Labor organizer nabbed: Group calls arrest ‘unjust, illegal,’ cops say it’s legitimate
MANILA, Philippines — Long-time labor organizer Benjamin “Banjo” Cordero has been arrested by authorities over alleged frustrated homicide in Quezon City, police said.
The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said that Cordero was collared Tuesday night at Barangay Commonwealth as a warrant of arrest was issued against him by San Mateo Regional Trial Court Branch 77 in Rizal.
But the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said there might be something irregular about the arrest since non-uniformed police officers took Cordero, who was then brought to the Batasan Police Station 6 in an unmarked vehicle.
QCPD chief Brig. Gen. Nicolas Torre III, however, asserted in a statement Wednesday that Cordero’s arrest was legitimate and refuted KMU’s claim that the police operation was “unjust and illegal.”
“Police personnel raided Cordero’s house and pointed a gun at him before presenting a warrant of arrest indicating charges of frustrated homicide,” the KMU said in a Facebook post also on Wednesday. The group added that Cordero deemed the allegations false, stressing that he did not know the other people mentioned in the warrant of arrest.
The KMU further said that Cordero was not accorded his rights and was denied due process. “[T]he manufactured charges and the arrest are clearly intended to harass and intimidate Cordero, a long-time trade union leader and organizer.”
The Kilusang Mayo Uno strongly condemns the unjust and illegal arrest of labor organizer Benjamin "Banjo" Cordero!At…
Posted by Kilusang Mayo Uno on Tuesday, October 25, 2022
But Torre insisted that “during the arrest, the accused was apprised of his constitutional rights.”
“Mahigpit ang bilin natin sa ating kapulisan tungkol sa pagrespeto sa karapatan ng ating mga kababayan sa bawat operasyon na kanilang gagawin,” he added.
(I have strictly instructed the police to respect the rights of our fellow Filipinos in every operation they conduct.)
In a separate statement on Thursday, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo backed the QCPD. He said the police “merely implemented an order from the court.”
“It is not our intention to harass or maltreat anyone on account of their personal beliefs and opinion. We know that the public understands our position that as law enforcers, we are duty bound to obey legal orders from lawful authorities such as this,” he said.
Estomo also called for those who claim that Cordero was illegally apprehended to file necessary complaints against the arresting police officers as he vowed that due investigation will then be conducted.
“Should the investigation disclose lapses, rest assured, we will not tolerate nor condone any unlawful conduct within our rank. I commit to personally ensure that those liable will face complaints both criminally and administratively,” he added.
Other progressive groups like Bayan Muna and Business Process Outsourcing Industry Employees’ Network Philippines have likewise joined the chorus of calls to free Cordero and stop the attacks against activists.
Cordero’s arrest comes weeks following University of the Philippines student activist Kara Taggaoa and labor leader Larry Valbuena were apprehended after attending an arraignment hearing at the Quezon City Hall of Justice for a different case.
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