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Labor, militant groups defend Vico, chide Año

Progressive groups have defended Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año admonished him not to “take sides” in labor disputes.

Año earlier chided Sotto after the latter publicly rebuked Regent Foods Corp. (RFC) for filing charges against striking workers.

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But while the mayor has not issued a reaction, groups like Defend Job Philippines and Bayan Muna have taken up the cudgels for him as they urged Año to shift his attention away from Sotto and toward the “brazen anti-Regent workers prejudice” of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

“Instead of criticizing Mayor Vico for taking the side of Regent workers, he must bark against the clear bias of Bello for the RFC management,” Defend Job said in a statement, citing Bello’s admission that he had referred RFC’s concerns about the labor strike to the Philippine National Police.

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On Nov. 9, the PNP and a private security agency broke up the picket line at RFC’s Pasig City plant, a dispersal that led to the arrest of 22 workers and a tricycle driver who was merely watching the commotion.

While 12 of the so-called “Regent 23” were freed after posting bail, the remaining 11  stayed in detention for over a week until they were bailed out on Monday with Sotto’s help.

The RFC said on Tuesday that it might leave its headquarters of 30 years in the city amid the heat it was taking over its labor practices from Sotto, human rights groups and the public.

“Instead of chastising the laudable actions of Mayor Vico, Secretary Año should check the actions of his men, the national police, who [were] once again involved in the violent dispersal of another picketline,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite.

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TAGS: Año, DILG, Pasig, RFC, Vico Sotto
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