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Pasay court orders arrest of 39 PAL union members over violent protest

Strike of Philippine Airlines workers, Sept. 27, 2011. FILE PHOTO
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - A Pasay court has ordered the arrest of 39 members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (Palea) over the violence that erupted in a labor protest last October 2011.

In an order dated August 15, Judge Bibiano Colasito of the Pasay court Branch 44 ordered the issuance of arrest warrants after probable cause was found against Jonas Agustin and 38 others over grave coercion charges.

Palea president Gerry Rivera slammed the arrest order which he said stemmed from "trumped up charges."

“On October 29, 2011, hired goons attacked the Palea protest camp and then PAL management tried to turn the tables by filing trumped up charges against active union members. This harassment case is meant to pressure Palea members to surrender our fight for regular jobs,” Rivera said in a statement.

Rivera vowed to challenge the court order. 

“This issue proceeds from the labor dispute between PAL and Palea, and thus before any civil court intervenes it must first secure a clearance from the Department of Labor and Employment or the Department of Justice which did not happen in this case,” he stressed.

In the October 29, 2011 incident, half of the Palea protest camp was torn down, a Palea member was severely injured in the face by an attacker.

Palea is gearing for a big protest on September 27, the first anniversary of Palea's airport protest against outsourcing.  

Rallies will be held in Manila and Cebu while actions will also be staged by airline and other unions in Sydney and Melbourne, Istanbul in Turkey, San Francisco in the USA, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, Lahore in Pakistan, and other countries. The protests are part of a global day of action for airline workers to highlight the campaign against outsourcing and for workers' rights in the aviation industry.

Apart from the grave coercion charge, 234 Palea members including its leaders are facing another case over the September 27, 2011 protest at the Manila International Airport. 

PAL filed the case for alleged violation of RA 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Law, specifically Section 81 (b) (5) which sanctions “any person who destroys or seriously damages the facilities of an airport or disrupts the services of an airport.”