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    URGENT ALERT: Another union leader in Cavite murdered; workers suspect management involvement

    IMMEDIATE DISSEMINATION AND ACTION REQUESTED
    04 April 2011

    Dear Friends,

    The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) calls on everyone to take action with regards the murder Celito Baccay, a union leader in a steel factory in Dasmariñas, Cavite province.  Baccay was killed while driving his motorcycle on his way home after his work shift last March 8, 2011. A fact-finding team composed of staff of the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Workers Assistance Center (WAC), and members of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) found out that Baccay’s killing could be union-related.The team also discovered that continuing threats to security of his co-unionists prevent their union activities to take place.

    Case details (Based on the Fact-finding mission report of CTUHR, WAC and SCW)

    Please note:  Identities of the witnesses and workers withheld due to fear of retaliation from the perpetrators. Their names were changed.

    At around 10 pm of March 8, 2011, Cielito Baccay, board member of MAGIKWO (Maeno-Giken Workers Organization, went out of Maeno Giken Inc. plant in the FCIE after working overtime. Riding his red Honda Wave motorcycle, he took his usual route eastward going to his home at Carmona Cavite. He drove along Governor’s Drive with two other co-workers,  Alpha and Bravo who were also boarding their motorcycles.

    At approximately 10:20 p.m. Baccay passed the Baranggay Langkaan 1 Bridge of the Governor’s Drive, more or less one (1) kilometre away from FCIE. Alpha and Bravo then heard a motorcycle crash behind them.  Knowing that Baccay was behind, they stopped and checked for his condition. They then saw Baccay and his motorcycle crashed at the sidewalk of the opposite lane approximately 50 meters away from the bridge. Alpha then immediately called through a cellular phone co-worker Charlie.  At that time, the Alpha and Bravo presumed that it was just a common motorcycle accident since they didn’t notice any gunshot wound or hear any gunfire. Charlie who is staying outside of the FCIE compound flagg ed the company transport service vehicle (Hyundai Starex van) full of co-workers to ask for help. They arrived at the scene and saw Baccay lying on the ground unconscious. They immediately rushed Baccay to the De La Salle University Medical Center (also in Dasmariñas) where he was immediately treated.

    Baccay arrived with vital signs at the hospital but was did not survive. He was then declared dead by his attending physician at around 10:45 p.m.  It was in the hospital that the workers discovered that Baccay was assassinated when police officers came and told them.

    At the scene of the motor crash, PO2 Aaron Abesamis and PO2 Figueroa of Dasmariñas Police (PNP) conducted initial investigation. According to PO2 Abesamis, they responded at the incident after the village police (Baranggay Tanod) of Baranggay Langkaan requested their assistance. In a Baranggay blotter dated March 8, 2011, the Baranggay police accounted that they heard gunfire at 10:30 p.m. They then immediately went to the area where they heard the gunfire and saw Baccay’s body beside a Honda Wave motorcycle with plate # 7937 PU.

    The police blotter showed that the responding police officers found one (1) empty shell of .9 mm calibre pistol while one (1) deformed bullet slug of the same firearm was found inside Baccay’s jacket. As of March 22, 2011 PO2 Abesamis said that a follow-up investigation is yet to be made.  Baccay’s remains were examined for autopsy immediately after the incident but the result is not yet available.

    Most people in the area denied any knowledge of the incident simply claiming that they heard gunfire during that night. Co-worker Alpha and Bravo accounted that they never observed any vehicle that passed through them when they turned back to see Baccay.

    It appears that no eyewitness could completely determine the identity of the perpetrators.

    Fellow unionists of Baccay however suspect that the Maeno Giken Inc. management is behind the killing.  According to them, they cannot recall any other enemy of Baccay except the Maeno Giken management and that it has sole motive of killing Baccay because the management does not want to recognize their union and is doing everything to destroy the union.  The management is also aware that Baccay is one of the most staunchest leaders of the union.

    Also, various incidents and circumstances involving Baccay and Gart Dennis Melchor, Maeno-Giken Vice president for operation had prompted the workers in thinking that Melchor could have had knowledge on Baccay’s killing.  The workers strongly believed that the previous unpleasant events between Baccay and Melchor could be related to the killing.

    Circumstances before the incident

    At 9:00 a.m. of March 8, few hours before Baccay was killed, a heated argument between him and Human Resource Manager Annaliza Melchor (wife of Gart Dennis Melchor) occurred. The argument started when Baccay tried to defend co-worker Delta who was being forced by Melchor to sign a memorandum accusing the co-worker of not wearing the complete PPE (Personal protective equipment) during duty.  Baccay ordered Delta not to sign the memorandum. This irritated Melchor which then accused Baccay of tolerating his co-workers’ misconduct. Baccay insisted that Delta did not violate any policy because he saw Delta wore his complete PPE during the day he was accused of not wearing it.

    On March 7 at 6:30 a.m, a day before Baccay’s murder, Gart Dennis Melchor went out of the plant and talked to co-worker Echo at the company parking lot.  Melchor then pointed at two red motorcycles while still talking to Echo as if they are talking about it.  About 15 meters away, Baccay together with co-worker Mike saw what Melchor is doing from the window of the company’s locker room.  He then jokingly told Mike, “Pare pustahan tayo, motor ko ang hinahanap ni Garto.” (I bet that Gart is looking for my motorcycle).

    On March 9, a day after Baccay was killed Mike got the chance to approach Echo. He then asked what Echo and Melchor chatted about last March 7.  Echo then told that Mr. Melchor during that time was asking who are of the owners of the red motorcycles at the parking lot and told him that one of those motorcycles is owned by Baccay.

    Leonila Baccay, Celito Baccay’s wife, also reported that the management seemed to be angrier towards her husband lately when he turned down a promotion offer.  The management offered Baccay the position for a company team leader but he declined the offer because he knew that it would disqualify him from being a union leader. Leonila said that “Si Bucks ay ang taong naninindigan sa prinsipyo niya” (Bucks is the type of person that is steadfast to live with his principles).

    Workers of Maeno Giken Inc. also claimed that harassment against them heightened when they  organize the union.  They narrated that Melchor is the most strict and rigid among all management officials against the unionists. The workers also described him as assertive and intimidating.  They felt alarmed about Melchor’s attitude of bringing his firearms often, cleaning and loading the pistols with bullets, at the workplace.  The workers are also aware of Melchor’s connection with the army and police officers because he is a gun enthusiast and a member of a gunners’ club.

    Baccay, according to the workers is the archrival of Melchor inside the workplace. Melchor’s dominant attitude clashes with Baccay’s adamancy.  According to the workers, Baccay is the only one who can resist Melchor’s authority.

    During the height of the certification election campaign last August 2010, Melchor also dissuaded the workers from voting for the union.  Some of the workers recalled Melchor’s announcement to the workers during a company general assembly: “hindi ako mangingiming mag-laglag ng ilan sa inyo (I will not hesitate to eliminate some of you).  The workers believe that the announcement is the threat of the Maeno Giken management to those who campaign in favor of the union.

    When MAGIKWO lost in the certification election over a No union choice last September 17, 2010, the workers’ conditions reportedly worsened.  All known union supporters and officers including Baccay reported to have experienced anti-union discrimination such as excessive implementation of disciplinary actions and malicious transfer of their work assignments.  Also, after the said date the management duplicated the programs and services being provided by the union to dissuade other workers from seeking help from the union.  But despite its loss, the union has continued to exist defending the workers inside the company from abuses.

    Co-worker Oscar also narrated that Baccay was frequently being hounded by men in a motorcycle every time he went home after his work shift from the month of September to November 2010.  The hounding temporarily stopped when Baccay was assigned to work for Terumo Corp. from November to December to isolate him from the other workers. During the past months, Oscar also reported that Baccay was frequently being insulted by company president Shinichiro Maeno, and Gart Dennis Melchor.

    Other workers were not spared by intimidation and harassments.  Oscar himself narrated having experienced some form of surveillance and intimidation when in September 19, 2010 around 10:0 a.m, two strange men riding on an unregistered motorcycle, wearing helmets, motorcycle jackets and dark pants passed at his house somewhere in Cavite twice while looking inside. Another group of strange men were observed staying near the house of co-worker Romeo also in Cavite.  Those men were reportedly asked information about the worker.

    About the victim

    Celito Baccay was one of the pioneer members of the Maeno Giken Workers Organization.  As one of the longest-serving worker (his working tenure was 5 years), Baccay was one of the pioneers of MAGIKWO.  Co-workers of Baccay consider him as their founder and the bravest among the union leaders. Having a background on unionism during his previous employment at Cathay Packaging, Baccay was also the mentor of the younger leaders of MAGIKWO.  It was Baccay who normally confronts the Maeno Giken management when co-workers are being scolded and given excessive disciplinary actions. Accoding to them, “Hindi siya natitinag, di natatakot, talagang tumatayo at lahat ng galit kaya niyang saluhin kaya sa kanya kami nahugot ng lakas.”

    About the company

    Maeno Giken Inc. is a Japanese owned company operating inside the First Cavite Industrial Estate (FCIE) in Dasmariñas Cavite. It has a total workforce of 100 where 90 are rank & file workers. The company manufactures steel structures and parts of heavy equipments like container crane, fuel and chemical tanks. Their products are used locally by different Japanese-owned companies while half of their products are exported to Japan.  Today the company is headed by Shinichiro Maeno as the President while Gart Dennis Melchor is the Vice-President for Operations.

    Suggested action

    Please write letters to the authorities below asking for.

    1.     An immediate, impartial and more thorough investigation on the murder of Celito Baccay be carried out;
    2.     Immediate filing of complaints on criminal court to bring the perpetrators to justice;
    3.     The families and co-unionists be indemnified;
    4.     An investigation on the reported harassments and surveillances on leaders and members of MAGIKWO;
    5.      Necessary and prompt steps to protect the right to unionize of the workers in Maeno Giken Inc.

    Kindly send your letters to:

    His Excellency Benigno Aquino III
    President
    Republic of the Philippines
    Malacanang Palace
    JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
    Manila 1005
    PHILIPPINES
    Fax: +63 2 736 1010
    Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

    Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
    Chairperson
    Commission on Human Rights
    SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
    U.P. Complex, Diliman
    Quezon City
    PHILIPPINES
    Fax: +63 2 929 0102
    Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
    E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

    Director General Raul Bacalzo
    Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
    Camp General Rafael Crame
    Quezon City
    PHILIPPINES
    Fax: +63 2724 8763
    Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
    E-mail: ruth_cossid@yahoo.com

    Hon. Leila de Lima
    Secretary
    Department of Justice (DOJ)
    DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
    1004 Manila
    PHILIPPINES
    Fax: +63 2 521 1614
    E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

    Hon. Rosalinda Baldoz
    Secretary
    Department of Labor and Employment
    7/F DOLE Building,
    Intramuros Manila NCR 1002
    PHILIPPINES
    Tel: +63 2 527 2131
    E-mail: secrdb@dole.gov.ph

    Kindly furnish us a copy of the mails you will be sending to the authorities. Cc  it to pie.ctuhr@gmail.com or to our mailing address Rm 702 Culmat Bldg. 126 E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City 1102 Philippines. You can also fax it thru +632.411.0256.

    Thank you very much for your support. Union organizing is a right not a crime. Defend Trade Union Rights, Protect the Workers. Stop the killings! Uphold Freedom to form Unions!

    Sincerely,

    Center for Trade Union and Human Rights
    702 Culmat Bldg, 127 E. Rodriguez Avenue
    Quezon city, 1112 Philippines
    Telefax No. 632.4110256
    email:ctuhr.philippines@gmail.com
    website: www.ctuhr.org

    CTUHR is an independent non government organization engaged in documentation, research and investigation of human rights violations committed against workers. It is also engaged in education, training and advocacy for workers rights and assist in the formation of workers and community organizations in the Philippines.

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