We, the officers and members of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at mga Progresibong
Manggagawa Food and Beverage Council (SENTRO F&B), together with its various union
affiliates all over the Philippines, condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent dispersal of
a peaceful picket staged, on April 2, 2018, by, more or less, eighty (80) workers of the COCA-
COLA FEMSA Philippines, Inc. to protest their malevolent, oppressive, repressive and arbitrary
dismissal from their respective works, leaving their respective families in economic limbo.

About ten (10) picketing workers, who participated in the picket, were also arrested by police
officers who barged into the workers’ picket lines in blatant violation the joint guidelines issued
by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Interior and Local
Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Justice (DOJ), the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

The Guidelines mandate, among others, military and police elements to stay fifty (50) meters
away from the picket lines and to exercise utmost neutrality in the prevailing labor feuds
between the workers and the company, and not to unnecessarily disrupt the exercise of the
workers of their constitutional right to peaceably assemble for redress of their grievances. Labor pickets are constitutional tool that the workers can use to balance the power landscape between the workers and owners of capital.

The violent dispersal of the peaceful pickets of the dismissed COCO-COLA workers, and the
consequential arrest of some of them, is a blatant of violation of a constitutional injunction which mandates the state and its instruments, like the military, the police and the city government of Davao, to give full protection to labor, organized and unorganized, being a primary social and economic force.

These high-handed, arrogant and illegal actions of the police, with the imprimatur of Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio, deserve strong condemnations from all well-meaning sections of society, owing to the fact that these dubious actions are perpetrated through the orders of a public official who postures in public to be pro-poor and to be protective of the welfare and interests of the masses.

It is not true, as we are made to believe by government authorities, that the picketing workers are the employees of the Work Experts and Allied Services, Inc., which is notoriously known in
Davao City to be illegally operating as a labor-only contracting agency. The picketing workers,
having been victims of labor-only contracting and as workers who are performing works which
are necessary and desirable to the business or trade of the company are deemed regular workers of this same company, in this case, by COCO-COLA, by operations of law, not with standing existence of a work contract to the contrary (Purefoods vs. NLRC).

The proper thing that Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio should have done, as one who
publicly professes her love for the workers and as the daughter of the President of the Republic
who promised to kill the capitalist who oppressed the workers, was to facilitate the honest-to-
goodness dialogue between COCA-COLA and the hapless workers. On the contrary, however,
City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio showed her real color by ordering the violent dispersal of the
picketing workers, and the arrest of some of them, for the purpose of filing criminal charges
against them.

By her acts, Sarah Duterte-Carpio has proven to the world that she is not different from any other elected officials who are pro-capitalist trapos, but who cleverly hide their true character behind the sterling curtains of their pro-poor rhetoric and cosmetic programs and projects. Good for her!

But the workers’ dream for a humane and dignified life will not die. The fate that befalls them
during this fateful day in Davao City will keep the fire burning in their hearts and minds. It will
serve as the propelling force which will prod them to finally cut the chain that ties them from
poverty and unfreedom for so long a time.

Organise! Fight! Win!

Written by sentro01

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