PNP, NutriAsia use tanim-suspect scheme to criminalise workers, their supporters and journalists - Karapatan

“Philippine National Police and NutriAsia used an inmate who has already been imprisoned since 2016, beat him to force him into a script of being among the striking workers, and used him as evidence to justify the brutality during the dispersal is an act of imbecility. This is reflective of how the PNP uses false stories to justify their crimes, and their complete disregard for the people’s rights. We strongly condemn the cheap tricks of these disgusting, spineless, shameless, and lying con artists,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

On July 30, at around 3pm, after an ecumenical mass held at the picketline in Marilao, Bulacan, at least 300 NutriAsia workers, their families and supporters were violently dispersed by more than 100 of the company’s security personnel and members of the Philippine National Police. Scores were injured while 19 were illegally arrested. The police have filed the following cases against those arrested, now collectively known as the NutriAsia 19: Violation of RA 9165 (Dangerous Drugs), Violation of RA 10591 (Firearms Law), illegal assembly, physical injuries, and alarm and scandal.

Meanwhile, NutriAsia released a statement alleging that one of the workers “fired a shot in the air”. A witness was subsequently presented by the PNP who claimed to be one of the workers who “admitted” to having a gun and firing it, which triggered the dispersal. On June 31, the witness recanted his statement and revealed that he was actually a prisoner for 2 years already, was taken out and beaten, and forced to play his role as the “armed NutriAsia worker”.

In a resolution released by the Office of the City Prosecutor in Meycauayan, Bulacan, the fiscal recommended the release of the fourteen of the detained, including nine NutriAsia workers and five supporters, to undergo regular preliminary investigation proceedings, while cases against five media personnel were recommended for dismissal. All the 19 have been released from detention, as of this writing. 

Palabay strongly criticized NutriAsia and PNP for such desperate attempts at implicating the workers to shift the blame. She added: “This cover-up is more urgent given NutriAsia’s statement that someone from the ranks of the striking workers held a gun. This is the extent that criminals and violators would go to. This is repulsive and sickening. The police, no doubt with the leadership of ex-Caloocan Chief Chito Bersaluna who have built expertise in falsifying and planting evidence during his stint as drug war implementer, has spearheaded this fabrication, even torturing someone to play the role.”

“Instead of regularizing workers and upholding the rights of workers, NutriAsia and the PNP have instead partnered to stage a script to deceive us all. They have imprisoned media personnel presumably to discourage the release of relevant footage, and they have planted evidence and a witness! They should be held accountable for the wounding and illegal arrest of workers, their families and supporters, and specifically NutriAsia for violating labor laws and worker’s rights,” Palabay said.

“This is the Philippines under the Duterte regime – crammed with economic, cultural, civil, political violations and impunity for the perpetrators, both State actors and big corporations,” concluded Palabay.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580