by Ghio Ong – The Philippine Star, 18 Dec 2021
MANILA, Philippines — Charges were filed yesterday against 44 employees of a company in Valenzuela who were arrested for going on strike on Wednesday night.
Pasta producer Soft Touch Development Corp. and the city police filed charges of illegal assembly, disobedience to a person in authority and alarm and scandal against the workers, according to lawyer and labor leader Luke Espiritu.
However, inquest prosecutor Evelyn Aguilar ordered that the 44 workers – not 50 as previously reported – be released from jail pending further investigation.
“The fiscal ordered us to get a certification from the Department of Labor (and Employment) that there is a pending labor dispute,” Espiritu said.
The workers are set to appear before the city prosecutor on Dec. 22.
Espiritu, who represents the detained employees, also said that Soft Touch was “asked to consider the solution to the problem, which is to maintain status quo without the workers being threatened with mass termination.”
Espiritu and the company’s representatives attended a dialogue yesterday with Mayor Rex Gatchalian, National Conciliation and Mediation Board-National Capital Region officials, city police chief Col. Ramchrisen Haveria Jr. and the manpower agency used by Soft Touch to hire the employees.
Haveria was “under fire for excessive use of force in a labor dispute” mandated by government regulations, according to Espiritu.
A video posted by Espiritu on Twitter showed the employees, who staged the strike after being informed they would be laid off on Dec. 24, being hit by police officers with water cannons and truncheons and being dragged to a police van.