A labor leader in Eastern Visayas revealed in a Jan. 14 news conference that members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the region had abducted him last Jan. 8 and accused him of participating in the Jan. 7 raid of a military detachment in Albuera, Northern Leyte by New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas.
A labor leader in Eastern Visayas revealed in a Jan. 14 news conference in Quezon City that members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the region had abducted him last Jan. 8 and accused him of participating in the Jan. 7 raid of a military detachment in Albuera, Northern Leyte by New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas.
The militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement) also blamed Jan. 14 AFP soldiers in Eastern Visayas as suspects for the abduction and interrogation of Rafael Tarroza, KMU’s regional chairperson in the region.
Tarroza said he was abducted by eight armed men at about 10 a.m. last Jan. 8 while on his way to the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU-KMU) office in Libertad, Ormoc City. He was to write the federation’s position paper on the illegal dismissal of a woman employee belonging to one of their member unions. He said he was blindfolded and brought to a safehouse.
Based on his account, the armed men held him for almost six hours where he endured continuous interrogation. “I was blindfolded and handcuffed. Tinutukan pa nila ako ng .45 baril at tinadyakan papasok sa Tamaraw FX” (They poked a gun at me and even kicked me into a Tamaraw FX van), Tarroza said.
Tarroza said his abductors asked him questions related to the Jan. 7 NPA raid. “I am certain that the men who abducted me are members of the military,” he said. “I recognized one of them as an intelligence agent whom I see following me in various occasions. The military are monitoring my actions and schedules.”
“They forced me to admit participation in the raid and told me they would bury me alive if I don’t tell them the truth,” Tarroza added. “They also told me that if I cooperate and give them information about my work and my colleagues, they will ensure my safety and my family’s as well. They want me to be an informant for the military. I know very well that I am no longer safe in Leyte. I also fear for the safety of my family and my fellow KMU members in Eastern Visayas.”
Tarroza said he asserted to his abductors that his work is confined to trade union work in Eastern Visayas. “As the regional chairman of (NAFLU-KMU), my work is to organize labor unions and assist in labor disputes, collective bargaining agreements and to do other work related to trade union and legal progressive mass movement,” he recalls having told his abductors.
The labor leader said he was released at around 4 p.m. that same day, on condition that he would contact his abductors the next day.
He said his abductors are still sending him text messages and warning letters to his family.
Meanwhile, KMU executive vice president Joselito Ustarez said that what happened to Tarroza is “a clear violation of human rights perpetrated by no less than the AFP and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government against a legitimate labor leader.”
Ustarez also said KMU will investigateTarroza’s case and will file legal actions against military units in Leyte. Bulatlat.com