Labor group Defend Job Philippines denounced the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) for releasing what the group asserts as fake accusations and fabricated pieces of evidence against labor activist Juan Alexander Reyes.
The PNP earlier today disseminated copies of Reyes’ mugshot and photos of his “actual arrest” Saturday afternoon. The police also gave out photos of what they maintain as evidence gathered at the time of arrest: a black sling bag, a .38 caliber pistol, and ammunition.
Reyes was illegally arrested on June 2 shortly after a meeting with members of SMQC (Sandigan ng Manggagawa sa Quezon City), of which he is an organizer.
Authorities claim that Reyes is a member of the NPA (New People’s Army) and the National Organization Division of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines). He is facing an arson charge pending in an Agusan del Norte court and another for illegal possession of firearms on the day of his arrest.
Defend Job Philippines contends that the PNP’s photos on Reyes’ arrest and charges filed against him are merely concocted. The group published a video of Reyes facilitating a strike vote election two days before his arrest.
A long-time labor leader, Reyes has been active in organizing labor unions in government institutions and private corporations, including the Senate, National Museum, Department of Tourism, and Pearl Islands Commercial Corporation. He is also convenor of Defend Job Philippines.
The labor group condemns the filing of trumped-up cases against Reyes and sees the move as a form of harassment versus trade unionists and labor activists. “Reyes has been known to be a champion of workers rights and welfare — for regularization, higher wages, and better working conditions — both in the private and public sector,” the group said in a statement.
Reyes has been under the surveillance of state forces since 2015. He filed a statement attesting to a harassment incident that involved a man identifying himself as a military personnel visiting his home in Caloocan and offering to “help” in exchange for a meeting with him. According to Reyes’ testimony, the man claimed to know about his “position in the Party” and promised Reyes that he will not be hurt as long as he would cooperate.
Should the charges be formally filed against him, Reyes will be among the 500 political prisoners under the Duterte government.
In the last four months alone, rights group Karapatan has documented four illegal arrests by the PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), including two Dumagat peasants and a volunteer for Gabriela Women’s Party.
Government insincere about peace
With Reyes’ arrest and made-up charges, Karapatan Metro Manila puts into question the sincerity of the Duterte government in addressing the roots of armed conflict and bringing about peace in the country.
“This incident is another manifestation of the government’s tyranny and fascism. The harassment and crackdown on activists and progressive groups is worsening everyday which may obstruct the enabling climate for the continuation of the 5th round of GRP-NDFP Peace Talks,” the group said.
Peace talks are set to resume at the end of the month. On the agenda laid out by the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is an interim peace agreement consisting of a general amnesty proclamation for political prisoners, a coordinated unilateral ceasefire, and the CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms).