PALEA slams arrest of another member, sees impending arrest of 37 others

File photo of a PALEA protest-action, September 2011.Joseph Agcaoili/
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) on Friday condemned the arrest of another of its members as the group prepares for another protest-action at the airport area in Pasay City.  

Esther Gonzaga was arrested Thursday noon in Makati City and was granted temporary freedom at 6:30 p.m. the same day after posting bail, PALEA said in a statement. 

Gonzaga, a community leader, was nabbed near her residence while attending a barangay meeting. 

The arrest of Gonzaga followed the apprehension of Romeo Sayas, who was detained in Malvar, Batangas for several days before he was released on bail. 

The arrests stemmed from the August 15, 2012 order by Judge Bibiano Colasito of the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 44 to issue warrants against 39 PALEA members who were charged with grave coearcion by the PAL management. 

The case is in connection with the September 2011 PALEA's blockade of the PAL Inflight Center along the city's MIA Road to protest the flag carrier's outsourcing program. 

PALEA said it "believes that the warrants of arrest on the remaining 37 PALEA members may also be served in the coming days."

PALEA said that it was a "harrassment case," but the management claimed that it was the group that harassed airline staffers and service providers during the blockade. 

The management also filed another case against 234 PALEA members, who were accused of violating Republic Act 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Law. 

The case was filed after PALEA members staged a protest at the Manila International Airport on September 27, 2011. 

The management claimed that protesting PALEA members violated Section 81(b)(5) of the CAAP Law, which sanctions “any person who destroys or seriously damages the facilities of an airport or disrupts the services of an airport.”

According to Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chairperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa, "no criminal information can be filed against workers without the required clearance from the Department of Labor and Employment." 

He said this prohibition is stated in the Department of Justice's Ministry Circular No. 15 (Series of 1982) and DOLE Order No. 40-G-03 (Series of 2010)

“Absent such clearance, the courts are mandated to dismiss the charges outright. Such a policy, started after the formal lifting of martial law, aims to resolve rather than aggravate labor disputes and regulate the proclivity of capitalists to engage in harassment suits against workers,” Rivera said in a statement. 

PALEA also assailed Colasito and Pasay Assistant City Prosecutor Orlando Mariano for finding probable cause and ordering the issuance of arrest warrants against 39 PALEA members. 

“These officers of the court not only defied labor statutes but infringed on our members right to due process, and thus deserve to face administrative charges,” Rivera said.