By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
Regent Foods Corporation (RFC) on Monday hit back at Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, saying that it will “contemplate” of bringing their business elsewhere and that they “will not be cowered by the mayor’s threats.”
Sotto publicly called on the snack food company on Sunday to rethink their position on the charges filed against 23 people who have been arrested after a violent picket dispersal at RFC’s factory in Pasig City on November 9.
The mayor told RFC’s management to drop the charges against the 20 workers, two members of a labor group and a tricycle driver “who just went down to see what was going on.”
“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.
In a response to Sotto’s Facebook post on Sunday, RFC said that the strike of its workers, which began on October 16, was “never legitimate and never peaceful” until its dispersal on November 9, contrary to how the situation was depicted by the mayor.
The snack food company said they had sought help from the office of the mayor and other government offices to address the situation early on.
“In his post, Mayor Vico deliberately failed to disclose to the public that, before any of this had happened, RFC actually wrote his office to ask his assistance in amicably pacifying the situation,” it said in a statement.
“This request merely fell on deaf ears, which is precisely what constrained RFC to resort to private security assistance for the sole purpose of reopening the gates of the company and resuming its usual business operations,” the food firm said.
Despite the call of the mayor to rethink its position on the charges, the RFC maintained its stance on the charges filed against the arrested people.
“RFC still maintains its position and will not be cowered by the mayor’s threats. RFC trusts the justice system, not because it can afford to, but because it has to,” it said.
It added that the company “may simply accept its fate that the Pasig City administration will unjustly make life hard” for the company and its 400 workers, and “contemplate simply bringing its business elsewhere—a truly painful outcome for a corporation that has considered Pasig City its home for a total of three decades now.”
In earlier phone call and meeting with the mayor and RFC representatives, it said that the mayor had lectured the company to be more humanitarian.
“Mayor Vico, however, refused to listen to RFC’s side and consciously turned a blind eye to the plight of the majority of RFC’s employees,” it said. “He also failed to see the company’s humanitarian effort in providing its affected employees financial assistance during such a dark time in the company’s history.”
According to the RFC, the strikers not only resisted the security personnel but also “blatantly attacked” them using “sharp weapons.” It said that several security agents were injured, with “one of them is, in fact, still in critical condition.”
The company further said that Sotto cast aspersions on RFC being “anti-labor” and portrayed the company as an “evil corporation ready ‘to put poor and powerless people to jail.’”
“When RFC said that it trusts the judicial process, it did not only speak on its own behalf but, more so, in behalf of those non-strikers who were also affected during the illegal strike and in behalf of those individuals who were hurt by the illegal strikers,” it said.
Sotto earlier said that 12 of the 23 arrested people were already released after posting bail, including the tricycle driver.
The mayor, in his post, acknowledged that the local government should not interfere with labor issues.
“However, when my constituents are being deprived of liberty as they fight for their rights as workers, I cannot sit around and do nothing,” he said.