Picket line at Philippine Embassy in Ottawa on Friday

Chers members et ami(e)s du CAP-CPC,
Dear CAP-CPC members and friends,

Il y aura deux évenements majeurs -- ce vendredi le 29 février et samedi le 1 mars. Vous êtres aussi invités à notre réunion régulière du CAP-CPC lundi prochain, le 3 mars avec Connie Bragas-Regalado de Migrante International des Philippines.
There are two major events coming up this Friday, February 29 and Saturday, March 1. You are also invited to a special meeting of the CAP-CPC on Monday, March 3 with special guest Connie Bragas-Regalado from Migrante International in the Philippines.

1. Vendredi - Ligne de piquetage de solidarité avec le peuple philippin à Ottawa pour exiger la démission de la Présidente Arroyo
Quand: le vendredi 29 février 2008 à midi
Lieu: devant l'ambassade des Philippines à Ottawa (rue 130 Albert)
Un convoi partira de Montréal à Ottawa vendredi matin. Svp contacter Joey Calugay par courriel: jcalugay [at] gmail.com
(il y aura aussi une vigile à 18h00 devant le Consulat philippin à Toronto, 161 Eglinton est)

Friday - Picket line in Ottawa
to support struggle of Philippine people to oust Arroyo regime

When: Friday, February, 29, 2008 12 noon to 1 pm
Where: Philippine Embassy in Ottawa (130 Albert St.)
Lift available from Montreal to Ottawa Friday morning, contact Joey Calugay by email: jcalugay [at] gmail.com
(A vigil will also be held in front of the Philippine consulate in Toronto (161 Eglinton East) at 6pm)

2. Samedi - Les femmes reprennent l'espace démocratique!
Saturday - Women Take Back Democratic Space!

Samedi le 1er mars 2008, 9h00 à 18h0
Saturday, March 1, 2008, 9 am to 6 pm
Université de Montréal, 3200 Jean Brillant, 2e étage (métro Côte-des-neiges)
Une présentation du comité d'action et de coordination des femmes de diverses orgines pour le 8 mars
Organized by the March 8th Committee of Women of Diverse Origins
(Info: Comité 8 mars +1 514 342-2111 - service de garde disponible, child care available)

3. Lundi - Réunion spéciale mensuelle du CAP-CPC
Monday - Special monthly meeting of CAP-CPC

Quand: le lundi 3 mars 18h30 à 20h30
Lieu: Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrants (CTI-IWC), 6420 Victoria Avenue, Suite #9 (métro Plamondon)
When: Monday, March 3, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Where: Immigrant Worker's Centre (CTI-IWC), 6420 Victoria Avenue, Suite #9 (Metro Plamondon)

Avec / Special guest: Connie Bragas-Regalado - Migrante International



Statement by the Lamour Workers Campaign Committee
February 14, 2008

We are a group of former workers of the apparel company, Lamour Inc, in Montreal, Quebec. We were unceremoniously laid off in 2007. Many of us have on average been working for this company for more than 10 years. Some of us have been there for more than 20 years of service. During this time, Lamour Inc. has become a very profitable company for its owners. It goes without saying that it was principally our years of hard work that produced profits for this company.

Lamour Inc. boasts that it is a leading company in the apparel industry and has operations in places like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India with over 2500 workers worldwide. A long-time partner of the retail giant Walmart, it recently broke into the US market in July, 2007 by taking over Terramar Sports, a company based in Tarrytown, New York, USA.

Despite this, many of us suffered horrible working conditions over the years. One example of this was that the front doors were locked and chained during the night shift. Under these conditions, we were always in danger of being trapped as escape routes were limited in the case of an industrial fire. For those of us doing piece work we were not paid when our machines broke down and we could not produce our quota. Even then, we felt that we could not go home because the front doors were locked. Some of us were forced to have our meals at our stations while we continued to work, which meant that we virtually had no breaks.

As if this was not bad enough, we felt deceived when a union was set up in 2004 that we believe to be a "pro-management" union to prevent us from organizing ourselves into a genuine and militant workers’ union that would have fought for our rights, our jobs and our dignities. After years of collecting our union dues, we feel this union has not produced positive results for the workers' conditions, welfare and job security.

On February 21, 2008 we will be holding a demonstration outside the office of the Commission des normes du travail (CNT) in Montreal to expose this situation. We wish to expose Lamour Inc. as leading the industry in the art of exploiting workers.

Our demands are simple. We want to be compensated fairly for the years of loyalty we’ve shown this company. Most of all, we want our dignity back and call for justice for the dismissed Lamour workers!

On Thursday, February 21, 2008 at noon support us by joining our demonstration in front of the CNT Montreal office on 500, boulevard Rene-Levesque West. We will be asking out loud, “Hey Lamour, where is the love in this Valentine's season?”

With the support of:
*Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrants / Immigrant Workers Centre
*Centre d'appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns
*PINAY - Filipino Women's Organization of Quebec


Workers Assistance Center gets peace award in South Korea

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: February 12, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – The Workers Assistance Center, a militant group advocating the protection of laborers’ rights, has been awarded the 2008 Justice and Peace Award by the Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Foundation (THSJPF) based in South Korea.

“The award is a fitting tribute to the more than 12 years of WAC’s unwavering advocacy for the rights and welfare of the Filipino working class,” Bishop Ephraim S. Fajutagana of the Philippine Independent Church and WAC chair, said in a press statement sent to the Inquirer.

Fajutagana said the principles practiced by WAC for the benefit of thousands of workers who are exploited, manipulated, harassed and exposed to various forms of human rights violations are worthy of the prestigious award given by the foundation.

Workers’ defense

WAC was established in 1995 in Rosario, Cavite to empower, assist and defend the workers against all forms of human and labor rights violations for the realization of their socioeconomic well-being.

The center has offices in Cavite and Batangas provinces.

It is the 11th Justice and Peace awardee of the Korean foundation since it was founded in 1997.

The award consists of $10,000 and a medal, which will be formally presented to WAC in a ceremony to be held in Seoul, South Korea on March 10.

Fr. Jose Dizon, WAC executive director, will accept the award on behalf of the center.

“The WAC is not only honored by the award. It is also deeply inspired by this kind of recognition coming from a Korean foundation whose own compatriots investing at the Cavite economic zones are the biggest number of cases handled by WAC in terms of labor rights violations,” said Fajutagana.

He said that with the award, former WAC chairperson Bishop Alberto Ramento, who was murdered in 2006 in Tarlac City, “has already been provided a share of his justice even not from the rule of law but by way of recognition for what he had fought and died for as one of the staunchest advocates of the workers rights.”


Msgr. Kim Byung-Sang, THSJPF chair, in his letter to WAC on Jan. 28, said: “We were very impressed by your organization that has been continuously fighting for the rights and welfare of [day] laborers, no matter what hardships your organization has undergone.”

The award is presented annually by the THSJPF to individuals and organizations who fight for justice, peace, and human rights even in the face of an oppressive system and at the great risk of their lives.

It was set up to honor the late Bishop Daniel Tji Hak-soon, a forerunner of the human rights movement in Korean Catholic Church and who had campaigned for justice and peace in Korea since the 1970s and died in 1993.

See original article - Philippine Daily Inquirer

U.S. Troops Sighted During Sulu Massacre - Bulatlat

Vol. VIII, No. 2, February 10-16, 2008

U.S. troops were present during the Feb. 4 assault by combined Army and Navy elite forces on Barangay (village) Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu that killed eight non-combatants, including an Army soldier on vacation. Worse, they tolerated what had taken place.

Soldiers from the Army’s Light Reaction Company (LRC) – a unit composed of Philippine soldiers who had received training from U.S. troops during the RP-U.S. joint military exercises –and the Navy’s Special Weapons Group (Swag) attacked Brgy. Ipil early morning, while most villagers were still sleeping, on Feb. 4, said Concerned Citizens of Sulu convener and former Jolo councilor Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie in an interview with Bulatlat.

Killed in the attack were Marisa Payian, 4; Wedme Lahim, 9; Alnalyn Lahim, 15; Sulayman Hakob, 17; Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43; Narcia Abon, 24 – all civilians. Also killed was Pfc. Ibnul Wahid of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, who was then on vacation.

“Wahid’s hands were even tied behind his back,” Tulawie said, citing an account by Sandrawina Wahid, the slain soldier’s wife. “He was forced to lie face down on the ground and they stepped on his back. His wife ran into their hut and back out, showing the soldiers his Army ID and bag, begging them to not hurt him. But still, they shot him.”

One of the victims, Kirah Lahim, was even mutilated. “They took out his eyes and cut off his fingers and ears,” Tulawie said.

Military officials have given varying explanations of the incident. One explanation was that the non-combatants were killed in a firefight between soldiers and “terrorists,” while another points to a “family feud” as having triggered the killings.

One Army general said what happened on Feb. 4 was a “legitimate encounter,” claiming that troops searching for kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao clashed with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and members of the terrorist Jema’ah Islamiyah.

The military did not say whether Lao, who was kidnapped on Jan. 28 while on the way home from her store, was being held in Sulu.

Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-“terrorist” task force in Sulu, said two soldiers and three bandits – including ASG leader Abu Muktadil – were killed in the “encounter.”

“It was a legitimate encounter,” Rafael told media. “As far as we are concerned, troops clashed with the Abu Sayyaf and Jema’ah Islamiyah. We have recovered the bodies of Muktadil, but soldiers also found eight more bodies in the area and we are trying to find out whether they were caught in the crossfire or slain by terrorists.”

Tulawie, however, said this was not true.

“That’s a lie,” Tulawie said. “Most of these people (who were killed) are just seaweed farmers. There is no ASG there. In the case of Wahid, they killed their own fellow soldier.”

“They were quiet people who had no enemies,” Tulawie said of the victims.

Meanwhile, Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said authorities are presently investigating reports that the killings were sparked by a family feud.

As the killings were taking place, there were U.S. troops nearby. Tulawie said Sandrawina was taken into a Navy boat, where she saw four U.S. soldiers.

“They were just nearby and they tolerated what was happening,” Tulawie said. “There was only one who was heard shouting, ‘Hold your fire!’ but that was all. They tolerated these human rights violations committed by the soldiers they had trained.”

Westmincom chief Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga said there were no U.S. troops involved in the operation.

“There was no direct involvement of the Americans,” Allaga said. “It is strictly prohibited.”

Not the first time

Sulu Gov. Abdulsakur Tan said this was not the first time that U.S. troops were reported to have taken part in Philippine military operations in Sulu. With this, he corroborated what Tulawie had said in an earlier interview with Bulatlat.

When an encounter between the AFP and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) broke out in Brgy. Buansa, Indanan, Sulu in early 2007, U.S. troops who were a few kilometers away were seen running toward the direction of the gunfire. They were carrying their guns.

Military spokespersons said the attack was brought about by reports that members of the ASG were in the MNLF camp. The MNLF – with which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 – has repeatedly denied that it coddles ASG members.

During that same period, U.S. troops were busy with a road construction project in Brgy. Bato-Bato, Indanan. At that time, the area was the center of Philippine military operations in Sulu.

These were gathered by Bulatlat in its interview with Tulawie in March last year.

This, Tulawie said, is just part of a larger picture that has been developing in Sulu since 2004.

“Military operations always take place not far from where U.S. troops are,” said Tulawie. “The presence of U.S. troops has been visible in areas where military operations have taken place.”

While Tulawie says there is yet no evidence that U.S. troops have actually participated in combat operations, their visibility in areas where AFP operations have been conducted raises questions on the real reasons behind their presence in the country’s southernmost province.

U.S. military presence in Sulu

The presence of U.S. troops in Sulu started in 2004 and has been continuous since then.

U.S. troops would have entered Sulu as early as February 2003. The AFP and the U.S. Armed Forces had both announced that the Balikatan military exercises for that year would be held in Sulu.

This provoked a wave of protest from the people of Sulu, who had not yet forgotten what has come to be known as the Bud Dajo Massacre.

The Bud Dajo massacre, which took place in 1906, is described in some history texts as the “First Battle of Bud Dajo.” It was an operation against Moro fighters resisting the American occupation.

The description of the incident as a “battle,” however, is disputed considering the sheer mismatch in firepower between U.S. forces and the Moro resistance fighters. The 790 U.S. troops who assaulted Bud Dajo used naval cannons against the 800-1,000 Moro resistance fighters who were mostly armed only with melee weapons.

In the end, only six of the hundreds of Moro resistance fighters holding Bud Dajo as a stronghold survived, while there were 15-20 casualties among the U.S. troops.

The announcement in February 2003 that the year’s Balikatan military exercises would be held in Sulu summoned bitter memories of the Bud Dajo Massacre and led to protest actions where thousands of Sulu residents participated.

The next year, however, U.S. troops came up with ingenious ways to find their way into Sulu – coming in small groups and bringing relief goods. This “neutralized” the residents’ resistance to their presence.

“Unconventional warfare”

The U.S. troops in Sulu are part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P). Based on several news items from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the JSOTF-P are in Sulu to train the AFP’s Southern Command (Southcom) and to conduct civic actions.

However, an article written by Command Sgt. Maj. William Eckert of the JSOTF-P, “Defeating the Idea: Unconventional Warfare in Southern Philippines,” hints that there is more to the task force’s work than training AFP troops and embarking on “humanitarian actions.” Wrote Eckert:

“Working in close coordination with the U.S. Embassy, JSOTF-P uses Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations forces to conduct deliberate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in very focused areas, and based on collection plans, to perform tasks to prepare the environment and obtain critical information requirements. The information is used to determine the capabilities, intentions and activities of threat groups that exist within the local population and to focus U.S. forces – and the AFP – on providing security to the local populace. It is truly a joint operation, in which Navy SEALs and SOF aviators work with their AFP counterparts to enhance the AFP’s capacities.”

These U.S. troops have always been seen near the sites of Philippine military operations in Sulu. The latest sighting was during the Feb. 4 attack on Brgy. Ipil, Maimbung where seven civilians and one Army soldier on vacation were killed.

View original article at Bulatlat.com


Sulu ‘massacre’ survivor claims seeing US soldiers

By Julie Alipala
Philippine Inquirer - Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 17:47:00 02/07/2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- American troops joined Monday's assault on a village in Maimbung town, Sulu, in which eight people, including two children and a pregnant woman, were killed, a survivor claimed.

Sandrawina Wahid said she saw four US soldiers when elite forces from Navy and the Army stormed Barangay (village) Ipil early Monday.

Wahid said among those killed by the government troops was her husband, Private First Class Ibnol Wahid, who was shot even after he identified himself as a soldier on vacation with his family.

Wahid said prior to the incident, which residents are calling a massacre, the soldiers burned down houses, including hers, and rounded up villagers.

"I was brought inside the Navy boat and I saw the US personnel," she said. Wahid said one of the Filipino soldiers blindfolded her.

"I asked him what the blindfold was for and he said so I will not see what's going to happen," she told reporters in Sulu on Tuesday.

But Major General Nelson Allaga, chief of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), branded Wahid's claim preposterous.

"There was no direct involvement of the Americans [during the operation]. It is strictly prohibited," Allaga said.

However, Sulu Representative Yusop Jikiri said the Maimbung incident is not the first in which US forces allegedly taking part in operations against suspected terrorists has been reported.

Jikiri, who called for an investigation, said during operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, US forces were also accused of direct involvement.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) that among the units involved in the Maimbung operation was the Army's Light Reaction Company (LRC) and the Navy's Special Warfare Group (Swag).

The LRC is composed of Filipino soldiers who received special training from US forces during the Balikatan joint military exercises.

Tan said soldiers indiscriminately fired at the residents and killed the eight victims.

"I was informed that several residents were also taken from their houses and brought inside a Philippine Navy boat before gunfire was heard," he said. But Allaga stood pat on the military's claim that an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf took place in the village.

"The commanders on the ground maintain that the encounter in Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu was a legitimate encounter with the [Abu Sayyaf] terror group. In fact the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] suffered casualties," he said in a statement distributed to reporters here on Wednesday.

"The AFP adheres at all times to the rules of engagement, which is not to put any unarmed civilians in danger during fire fights and encounters," he said. But Tan, citing the result of his investigation, said the death of the two soldiers was due to "friendly fire" between the two units.

He said the information he got showed the Swag and LRC troops mistook each other for hostile groups and exchanged fire.

Striking workers in a Korean company dispersed, 13 injured, 4 nabbed

06 February 2008 -- More than 100 policemen violently dispersed workers upon their formal declaration of strike in Korean-owned Hanjin Garments Incorporated in front of the Gatchalian Industrial Subdivision in Barangay Banay-Banay, Cabuyao, Laguna at 7:41AM today.The dispersal, which lasted for nearly 30 minutes, left 13 workers seriously injured while 4 detained.

Cabuyao Police Chief Superintendent Chito Bersaluna, refusing to negotiate with the workers, ordered the dispersal as soon as he arrived on scene at 7:13AM.

Detained at the Cabuyao Police Station are Hanjin union vice-president Christopher Capistrano, Erica Lee Balane, and Edison Alpiedam. While Gerald Daria, a worker from another garments factory who happened to pass by the strike area and was supposed to go to work at that time, was also collared and detained by the police.

Amy Capistrano, Hanjin worker and wife of the union vice-president, was among the 13 injured workers. She was beaten black-and-blue.

Also injured were Eva Occidental, Riza Adiaton, Lilibeth Ilaga, Marivic Cresidio, Marife Loyola, Rosalinda Esquelito, Meljun Aquino, Ivy Villanueva, Edwin San Jose, Arnel Vito, Ricardo Basagre, and Melchor Magtibay.

Indignation rally

At 11:15AM, Hanjin workers and their supporters marched to the Cabuyao Municipal Hall to condemn the recent incident. After holding a program, they proceeded to
the Cabuyao Police Station calling for the immediate release of the detained workers.

The workers, through their legal counsel, negotiated with the police. However, Bersaluna, himself, refused to release the detained workers.

"Hindi kami aalis dito hangga't hindi nila pinalalaya ang mga kasamahan namin (We will not leave until they free our detained comrades)," cried Romina Ibarrola,
spokesperson of independent union Aniban ng mga Manggagawang Inaapi sa Hanjin Garments (AMIHAN).

"Sobra-sobra na ang pasakit na ibinibigay nila sa aming mga manggagawa. Dahas at pagkukulong ba ang kailangan nilang isukli sa aming paghihirap ng 12 taonŠ sa aming kahilingan ng regularisasyon at pagpapatupad ng minimum wage? (They are inflicting too much pain on us workers. Should harassment and detention be the worthy price for our 12-year sacrificeŠ for our demands of regularization and the implementation of the minimum wage?)," continued Ibarrola.

Hanjin workers and supporting workers from other factories continue to mass-up in front of the police station. They vowed to hold a vigil and gather more support until the detained workers are released.

"We don't see any reason why the police should brutally disperse and detain these workers who only hold true and strongly to their demands as their defense. Hanjin management, the local government, and the police treated these workers as if they are animals and criminals," said Romeo Legaspi, chairman of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU) or Solidarity of Workers in Southern Tagalog.

"In the final analysis of right and reason, after a series of carnage these workers have to endure, it is the Hanjin management, local government, and the police who are rightful of the title brutes and criminals," concluded Legaspi.

Hanjin workers established their barricades and formally declared their strike this morning at 5:15AM, 13 days after launching their picket protest. Workers demanded for the reinstatement of dismissed workers, regularization, implementation of the minimum wage, and union recognition.

Korean nationals Jeong Kee Min and Mak Rae Min own Hanjin Garments which employs more than 1,000 contractual workers. The company exports to the US pants and suits with expensive brandnames such as Mossimo, Limited, Kohl's, Croft and Barrow, Elle, and Merona.

Romeo Legaspi, PAMANTIK-KMU Chairman
Mobile Number: +639293313189