Groups: Charge vs trade unionist another trumped up case

Groups: Charge vs trade unionist another trumped up case
Indignation rally at Batasan Police Station 6 where trade unionist Banjo Cordero was detained last October 26, 2022.
Released / Kilusang Mayo Uno

MANILA, Philippines — Labor and rights groups condemned Thursday the arrest of trade union activist and organizer Benjamin Cordero in Quezon City.

In a statement, rights group Karapatan warned that the arrest could mark the start of what it said was another round of attacks against trade union activists and workers’ rights defenders.

“We believe that Cordero’s case stems from another trumped-up charge maliciously filed in court by state agents who may have the possible motive to deter Cordero from conducting his activities as a trade union activist,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

“It should be noted that the charges of frustrated homicide against him were filed in San Mateo, Rizal, when he is obviously spending a large part of his work in Quezon City. Many similar trumped up charges against activists were filed elsewhere, far away from their work or residence.”

This comes after the arrest of KMU international officer Kara Lenina Taggaoa and Pasiklab Operators and Drivers Association-Piston president Larry Valbuena on October 10, on charges of direct assault. Both are out on bail.

What happened?

Cordero was arrested around 11:40 p.m. Wednesday in his home in Quezon City, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said Thursday in a separate statement, after cops arrived in an unmarked vehicle.

The labor group said that Cordero “was not accorded his rights and was denied the due process of law,” saying cops pointed their guns at Cordero before serving him the warrant.

The group said Cordero was reportedly served with a warrant of arrest dated October 24 based on a charge of frustrated homicide issued by Branch 77 of the San Mateo, Rizal Regional Trial Court.

Cordero is chairperson of the Labor Sector of the QC City Development Council and a member of Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Quezon City. He is also currently the campaign officer of the Urban Poor Coordinating Council in Metro Manila.

“The state has long utilized this scheme - arbitrarily filing trumped-up charges against activists then illegally arresting and detaining them…While the government fails to address pressing issues such as skyrocketing prices of goods and services as well as low wages, they spend enormous time and resources on the harassment and the arbitrary arrest and detention of rights defenders,” Kilusang Mayo Uno said in its statement.

Kilusang Mayo Uno said Cordero was given provisional liberty on Thursday afternoon after paying bail.


In a Facebook Live video by alternative news outlet Manila Today, Cordero asserted that the allegations are false and that he did not even know the other individuals cited in the warrant.

Karapatan Metro Manila also pointed out that Cordero did not receive a copy of the subpoena and complaint affidavit on the case, which is why they were unable to reply on the raps against Cordero.

Cordero was also unable to participate in the preliminary investigation because he was not informed of any case against him.

However, authorities were quick to serve the arrest warrant one day after it was issued, which means that authorities readily know Cordero’s address and information.

“We urge the court to look into the filing of charges against Cordero, and see whether his right to due process was violated. None of Cordero’s activities make him a criminal. Despite the previous dismissal of trumped-up charges that were rendered baseless in the courts, state forces continue to file criminal charges against activists and rights defenders, taking away from them significant and productive time from their work and service to communities and in defense of people’s rights. We demand the release of Cordero, and the outright dismissal of charges against him,” Palabay said.

NCRPO: File complaints

Police Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, Metro Manila police chief, said in a statement that any official complaints against the arresting officers would be entertained and would prompt an investigation.

“Our men merely implemented an order from the court. It is not our intention to harass or maltreat anyone on account of their personal beliefs and opinion,” he said.

“Should the investigation disclose lapses, rest assured that we will not tolerate nor condone any unlawful conduct within our rank…I commit to personally ensure that those liable will face complaints both criminally and administratively,” he also said.

The Quezon City Police District also said that Cordero was “apprised of his constitutional rights” during the arrest.

“We strictly instruct our police about respecting the rights of our countrymen in every operation they do,” Police Brig. Gen. Nicolas Deloso Torre, QCPD Director said in Filipino.  — Franco Luna with a report from James Relativo

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