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Mayor Sotto appeals to food company to drop charges against workers

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By Jhon Aldrin Casinas

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Sunday called on the management of Regent Foods Corporation (RFC) to rethink their position on the charges filed against 23 people who have been arrested after a violent picket dispersal of striking Regent workers last week.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto  (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto
(KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“To the management of Regent Foods Corporation, these people are not criminals; they do not have the goal of hurting you. They are fighting for what they believe to be just,” Sotto said in a Facebook post.

“I condemn the misuse of your privileged position to suppress the rights of your protesting workers. If you want to have a healthy relationship with our city, I highly suggest you rethink your position,” he added.

On November 9, police have arrested 23 people following a violent picket dispersal of Regent workers at the RFC factory along Elisco Road in Barangay Kalawaan, Pasig City.

According to Eastern Police District, a commotion erupted between the striking workers and the security personnel that led the anti-riot police to disperse the groups and arrest the 23 strikers.

Labor group Defend Job Philippines slammed the violent dispersal of striking workers, where two of their members were also arrested.

The mayor said that he had asked Regent to drop the charges against the 23 people arrested.

“Yesterday, upon multiple follow-ups, Regent’s lawyer informed us that they would NOT withdraw the charges,” he said.

“Instead, they will “just trust the judicial process” — which is of course easy to say as multimillionaires who will eat 3x a day no matter what happens here; while the people they have sued have recently lost their main source of income and are now even torn away from their families,” he added

According to Sotto, the complaints were filed by the private security agency hired by Regent to disperse the workers on strike, “but the management has admitted that they are behind the complaints.”

Sotto said he will help for the release of the 11 arrested protesters who until now is still in jail. He said that 12 of them have already been released after posting bail, including a tricycle driver “who just went down to see what was going on.”

He assured those who are still detained at Pasig City Police headquarters that he will make sure that they will be released by Monday.

“From the start, I have made it clear to both sides: as the Local Government, we cannot interfere with the labor issues at hand, as this is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and Employment,” Sotto said.

“HOWEVER, when my constituents are being deprived of liberty as they fight for their rights as workers, I cannot sit around and do nothing,” the mayor added.

Over 50 members of Regent Foods Workers Union went on strike on October 16 over reported cases of cases of unfair labor practices and union busting moves of the company, the Eastern Police District said.

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