Canadian trade unionists hit criminalization of Philippine labour leaders

"MANILA, Philippines--Murder and arson charges against labor leaders? Very hard to believe, according to visiting Canadian labor organizers.

The Canadian Trade Union Mission to the Philippines has slammed the criminal charges against labor leaders in the provinces, saying such actions bars them from defending workers' rights.

In a press conference on Tuesday, visiting unionists Peter Leibovitch and Daniel Kinsella called on the government to ensure the safety of labor leaders from physical harm and legal harassment.

“This apparent abuse of the legal system appears to be a change of tactics to suppress activists and critics,” the two Canadians said in a briefing in Quezon City.

Kinsella, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a government union, cited the case of Lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1 Movement), who has been detained at the Calapan provincial jail.

“Saladero is a full-time labor lawyer and has diabetes, while some of his companions have polio and other serious illnesses,” he told reporters in an interview.

Saladero and 72 others have been charged with multiple murder, frustrated murder and arson in connection with alleged left-wing rebel activities.

“These are very serious charges and are too far-fetched for any reasonable person to believe ... I hope the President is aware of them,” he added."

Read more at Inquirer.net: Legal harassment of RP unionists hit - 11/25/08

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