The women’s alliance GABRIELA and CURE COVID-Marikina Chapter on Friday condemned the arrest and detention of 10 of their community volunteers in Marikina City.
They were identified as Batibot Teachers Relita Malundras and Ronel Artizuela, GABRIELA staff and Pinoy Weekly correspondent Joan Bernadette Paz, and seven jeepney drivers who were distributing food packs to the residents of Industrial Valley Complex village.
CURE COVID volunteer relief workers, in partnership with the Bayanihang Marikenyo’t Marikenya, have been providing hot meals for more than a month to Marikina residents following the Enhanced Community Quarantine and what the groups claim as the slow financial and food assistance from the national government.
The arrests happened as the country was observing Labor Day.
Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro on Friday immediately ordered the release of the 10 arrested volunteers.
“The police overreacted. [The volunteers] should never have been arrested because they were doing nothing wrong,” Teodoro said.
Teodoro said the 10 had been involved in a relief operation that strictly observed social distancing, and was in compliance with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
He said the policemen could have misinterpreted the placards the volunteers had been carrying calling for a mass testing.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday renewed his vow to uphold the rights of Filipino workers and urged the private sector to protect them as the nation observed Labor Day.
He said the government remained committed to upholding the workers’ rights even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today, we celebrate the Filipino worker whose hard work serves as the very foundation of our nation’s prosperity and growth,” Duterte said in his message.
“Globally renowned for its professional excellence and unmatched diligence, our workforce continues to benefit communities and industries across the world.
“As all work is vital in forging a more inclusive and more progressive Philippines, may each and every Filipino rightfully enjoy the fruits of their labor and lead more productive and dignified lives.”
The best way to honor workers is to provide them with job security and a safe work environment, the Commission on Human Rights said Friday.
Group spokeswoman Jacqueline de Guia said workers were especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, Labor Day, the commission praises the workers who continue to fight COVID-19 to ease its effects,” De Guia said.
Rallies go online
The leaders and members of labor organizations held online rallies for the first time as a result of the lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno held a “ZOOMama sa Mayo Uno Online Rally,” a virtual rally for workers in observance of Labor Day.
The group demanded medical solutions, mass testing and adequate assistance to the workers affected by the pandemic.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes called on law enforcers to stop the arrest of violators of the Enhanced Community Quarantine guidelines.
The quarantine should be implemented humanely, he said.
Other groups also observed Labor Day in other parts of the country to demand their labor rights.
Senator Nancy Binay said the country paid a grand tribute to all frontliners for their unwavering service and sacrifice during the observance of Labor Day.
She said every breadwinner was painfully dealing with the problem of not earning enough money or being out of work.
“We commend industry leaders and entrepreneurs who are willing to create and provide jobs to those who have been displaced here and abroad,” Binay said.
Senator Bong Go recognized the role of workers in the economy and called for the continued protection of their rights and welfare amid the COVID-19 emergency.
Senator Win Gatchalian said it was but fitting to recognize all Filipino workers and their contribution to the country.
Senator Joel Villanueva said he was grateful to the frontline workers.