11 detained workers post bail with Vico Sotto’s help
MANILA, Philippines — Eleven workers of Regent Foods Corp. (RFC) who had been detained for over a week after policemen and guards broke up a picket line in front of the Pasig City-based company were set to be released after posting bail on Monday.
The workers—nine from RFC and two from labor group Defend Job Philippines—had been kept at the Pasig City police headquarters since Nov. 9. Twelve other colaborers were freed earlier after they managed to post bail.
The release of the 11 workers came after Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto criticized RFC for its refusal to withdraw the charges it had filed against the so-called “Regent 23.”
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Sotto pledged to “do everything within my power” to ensure that the 23 would “regain/maintain their liberty.” The president of the RFC workers’ union, Tita Aclan Cudiamat, confirmed on Monday that the mayor had extended assistance for the release of the 11 still in detention.
“These people are not criminals,” Sotto had told the company. “You can continue with the labor dispute without sending the poor and powerless to jail. I condemn the misuse of your privileged position to suppress the rights of your protesting workers.”
Countercharges to be filed
Christian Lloyd Magsoy, Defend Job Philippines spokesperson, said countercharges would be filed against RFC as well as the National Capital Region Police Office and Social Justice Security Investigation Agency for their role in the “illegal, violent and overkill” dispersal of the strike.
The specific charges to be filed would be worked out later this week, Magsoy added.
Cudiamat said that the bail for the 11 workers was set at P11,500 each. It was unclear how much of the cost was shouldered by Sotto who met members of Defend Job at City Hall on Monday morning.
“We are fighting to be given decent wages,” Cudiamat added. “We are fighting for those who have worked 26 years for RFC but are still contractual employees.”
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