The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) condemned the arrest of another of its members as it planned protests at the airport area in response. PALEA member Esther Gonzaga was arrested yesterday around noon in Makati City and was granted temporary freedom by 6:30 pm after posting bail.
Gonzaga’s arrest follows the earlier apprehension of Romeo Sayas who was detained in Malvar, Batangas for several days before he was released on bail. Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair declared that “The harassment case of grave coercion was filed by the management of PAL against the PALEA 39 who valiantly defended the protest camp when it was attacked by hired goons on October 29, 2011.”
Aside from the case against the PALEA 39, there are two more criminal suits pending against union members due to the labor row. Rivera called on new PAL President Ramon Ang “to facilitate the resolution of the labor dispute by dropping the trumped up charges against our members which were filed under the old company management of Jaime Bautista.”
Gonzaga was arrested near her residence while attending a barangay meeting as she is a community leader. She is one of two women among the PALEA 39. PALEA believes that the warrants of arrest on the remaining 37 PALEA members may also be served in the coming days.
Rivera explained that as enunciated under DOJ Ministry Circular No. 15 (Series of 1982) and DOLE Order No. 40-G-03 (Series of 2010), no criminal information can be filed against workers without the required clearance from the DOLE. “Absent such clearance, the courts are mandated to dismiss the charges outright. Such a policy, started after the formal lifting of martial law, aims to resolve rather than aggravate labor disputes and regulate the proclivity of capitalists to engage in harassment suits against workers,” Rivera elaborated.
PALEA also lambasted Pasay Assistant City Prosecutor Orlando Mariano and Judge Bibiano Colasito of the Pasay MTC Branch 44 for finding probable cause and ordering the issuance of arrest warrants against 39 PALEA members. “These officers of the court not only defied labor statutes but infringed on our members right to due process, and thus deserve to face administrative charges,” Rivera insisted.
He also denounced PAL lawyer Atty. Santiago “Sonny” Quial for “legal machinations.” Quial is running for district representative in Pasay for the coming elections. “As many PALEA members are Pasay voters, we will make sure that a law breaker does not become a law maker,” Rivera claimed.