Updated: Nov 10, 2018
For Immediate Release August 1, 2018 Contact: Janelle Viray, GABRIELA LA Chairperson, firstname.lastname@example.org
On July 30, 2018, striking NutriAsia workers and their supporters were participating in an ecumenical mass when the peaceful protestors were met with indiscriminate violence by NutriAsia security forces and a total of nineteen workers, supporters, and members of the media were illegally arrested and detained by the Philippine National Police. Since the launch of the strike in early June, this is the second instance in which the private corporation’s security forces in collusion with Philippine state forces inflicted brutal violence and repression against the NutriAsia workers. While we celebrate the recent release of the #NutriAsia19, we call for ongoing and unwavering support of the NutriAsia workers who continue to strike for their rights to regularized jobs, fair wages and benefits, safe working conditions, as well as the right to unionize to ensure these rights and protections.
From the ranks of the striking NutriAsia workers are women workers, who have endured harsh working conditions, including working in 100 degree temperatures without proper safety equipment, low wages and no benefits, as well as the continual threat of losing their jobs, especially as contractual workers. This scheme of contractualization allows companies to cut costs and maximize their profits, while stripping workers of their basic human rights. Marissa Momo, 31, had worked for NutriAsia for nine years before she was dismissed September 2017 with everyone in her “line.” They were the first batch of workers terminated by the company without prior notice. “They told us they had acquired new machines and they needed to cut the number of workers,” Marissa said.
The daily violence experienced by these women, and the workers as a whole, at NutriAsia are not limited to them alone. One of the people injured during the July 30 dispersal is Leticia Riza, 56, who attended the ecumenical mass at the picket line to show support for the striking workers, and was instead met with a bloody beating by the company’s security forces and the Philippine National Police. Furthermore, among the #NutriAsia19 arrested on July 30, two of the media correspondents were local community organizers and LA-based filmmakers, Hiyasmin Saturay and Eric Tandoc, who were documenting the strike as voluntary journalists for a progressive news outlet, Altermidya. Even with their eventual release, NutriAsia continues to obstruct justice by falsely claiming that it was the peaceful protestors who instigated the violence. Moreover, not all charges have been dropped. The five media correspondents who were arrested are still facing charges of illegal assembly and "alarms and scandal," while the 14 others are facing illegal assembly, alarms & scandal, and physical injury.
As GABRIELA Los Angeles, we condemn this worsening violence and abuse of power by the rich and wealthy elite in the Philippines as well as the Duterte administration and his security forces. We firmly detest the repression of people’s rights to freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. It is no surprise that these criminal attacks against the people have occurred under the same President who has publicly said he would give a pass to the Philippine military to rape women; who has encouraged to shoot women “rebels” in the vagina to make them useless; who has failed to properly protect Overseas Filipino Workers from their employers’ abuse, while also killing off the children of OFWs, like Kian de los Santos, through his bloody drug war; who has threatened to bomb the schools of Lumad children and ordered the militarization of their communities under martial law. This is the macho-fascist state we live in that enables this kind of violence against women, workers, and the poor. And as long as there is still blood in our condiments and the exploitation of workers, as long as state forces like the Philippine National Police and the security forces of the ruling elite continue to respond to the people and our calls for basic human rights with batons and bloodshed, as long as the fascist state continues to repress and silence the press and human rights advocates, we can not and will not stop building a movement for genuine democracy, justice, and peace in the Philippines.
Within 48 hours of the arrest of the #NutriAsia19, we went immediately to the streets, pressured the Philippine Consulate, and rallied for the release of the #NutriAsia19. We made a petition along with other organizations and allies and collected signatures to show support for the workers and to demand their immediate release. We boycotted NutriAsia products and told our families, friends, and peers to do the same. We raised funds to provide financial support for legal services. We created videos, memes, and articles to educate our peers about their arrest and the NutriAsia workers strike and build new supporters and allies for the struggle. After those 48 hours, the nineteen workers, supporters, and journalists were released. None of it would have been possible without the strength of our unity, without us being organized, and without taking collective action. The strike of the NutriAsia workers continues, and just as Hiyas and Eric will continue to be by the workers side, we too must continue to struggle, show up, and stay determined in educating, organizing, and mobilizing ourselves and our communities.
As Filipino women in the US, we follow the lead of the Filipino women workers at NutriAsia who embody the idea of “Babae Ako! Lalaban Ako!” as they vigorously assert their rights to lives of dignity and respect that is free of exploitation. We draw inspiration from their bold and fearless spirits as they continue to confront their employer, its security forces, and the macho-fascist state at the frontlines of the NutriAsia strike. We call on all Filipino women and allies to continue boycotting NutriAsia products and demand that the US hold the Philippine National Police accountable for their human rights violations and attacks against the people. Support NutriAsia Workers! End State Fascism!
Ipagpatuloy ang paglaban! Sulong mga kasama, huwag matakot! Continue the struggle! Onwards, do not be afraid!