Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the filing of trumped-up charges against five leaders and five participants of the Mendiola Campout protests, saying the Aquino government is harassing activists holding peaceful protests against intensifying hunger and poverty in the country.
Yesterday, the Manila Police District filed before the Manila City Prosecutors Office charges against Vencer Crisostomo (Anakbayan chairperson), Joel Maglunsod (vice-chairperson of Anakpawis Partylist and KMU), three other leaders and five other participants of the Mendiola Campout protest.
“This is political harassment from a president who promised us change. Pres. Aquino has not changed the dire economic situation in the country and he has not changed the government’s repressive approach to protestors,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“This early, the Aquino government is exhibiting the symptoms of the Arroyo regime in its late, desperate stages. We suspect that it is preparing to use greater force in the future, given the intensifying economic crisis and intensifying protests from the workers and people,” he added.
“We demand that these charges be junked immediately,” he said.
The MPD charged the protestors with sedition, violations of the Public Assembly Act of 1985, resistance and disobedience to a person in authority, causing tumults and other disturbances of public order, malicious mishief and physical injury.
“The real issue here is why the Aquino regime chose to pool together police forces from various regions to thwart a peaceful protest against hunger and poverty. And why is there an overkill use of force against protestors,” Labog said.
“The Aquino regime is so paranoid because it cannot deny that poverty and hunger is getting worse. For all its talk of ‘inclusive growth,’ it knows that it has not brought about growth for the workers and people,” he added.
When asked about their basis for the charges, Manila City Hall officials said the campout protest’s website and Facebook postings by participants indicate that the protest will lead to an “uprising” against the Aquino regime.
“It’s not the Mendiola Campout protest that’s leading to an uprising against the Aquino regime; it’s the intensifying hunger and poverty in the country. By refusing to give immediate relief to workers and poor people, the Aquino regime is indeed laying the ground for an uprising,” Labog said.
“It is further fueling possible uprisings with its paranoid and repressive moves towards protestors,” he added.
KMU has been calling for a significant wage hike, the junking of contractualization, controls on the prices of basic services and goods especially oil, and an end to demolition of urban poor communities – as forms of immediate relief from the intensifying hunger and poverty in the country. Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU Chairperson