We, the members of CONTEND UP, express our strongest condemnation of the violent dispersal of the workers and their supporters at NutriaAsia, Bulacan on July 31, 2018. After an ecumenical mass, the workers and their supporters, led by Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia, Inc., were violently dispersed by the Marilao police and the security forces of NutriAsia. The workers, who are on strike since June 4, are demanding regularization and better working condition. But they were meted out with brutal dispersal by the combined forces of the police and security forces of NutriAsia using truncheons that resulted to the arrest of 19 workers and their supporters, including University of the Philippines Diliman students, Jon Bonifacio, MBB major, outgoing College of Science Council Publicity Officer, and Psalty Caluza, incoming 4th year Journalism student.
As teachers and workers at the University of the Philippines, we stand firmly with our students, Jon Bonifacio and Psalty Caluza, as they supported the just demands of the NutriAsia workers. Some of us had already went to the picket of NutriaAsia to listen to the real stories of the workers that are often silenced, if not muffled, in dominant media news and reports. We invited some striking workers to share their repulsive experiences with NutriaAsia with our students and UP workers. In these dialogues, our students expressed disgust against the management of NutriAsia while sympathizing with the workers’ struggle.
As the national University that upholds social justice and respect for human rights, it is only expected of our students, workers and teachers to immerse themselves with the workers as part of their continuing education. Immersing in the lives of the marginalized sectors of our society, especially the workers, has been part of the radical tradition of our University. These are opportunities to broaden learning, to try out new ideas, and to do engaged and participatory research. As educators we value the wisdom of the past and present activists educated by our University that education does not only consist in the formal settings of the classrooms. Education also includes real and passionate engagement with the lives of our fellow poor Filipinos who are excluded from social progress and economic growth.
We are therefore alarmed when the police and security forces of NutriaAsia falsely indicted our students of possessing fire arms and drugs so that they could arrest and detain them. These sickening schemes of the police, which they perfected against poor criminals in the notorious Operation Tokhang, should be exposed and denounced. We demand the immediate release of our students and all other individuals arrested and detained including Einstein Recedes, Anakbayan Secretary General and Mark Quinto of the League of Filipino Students. They should be treated humanely and should be given speedy proper medical attention.
We call on our fellow teachers and educational workers to stand with our students who are now victims of chilling state repression. The violent dispersal at NutriAsia today is just a symptom of the failure of the US-Duterte regime to end contractual labor and uplift the worsening condition our workers. If we truly stand for social justice and human rights, then, it is our duty as educators to support striking workers. We do not teach our students to become docile workers in the future who will simply allow their basic rights to be violated. We cannot provide transformative education if the future of our students is compromised by cheap contractual labor and rampant violations of workers’ rights. This is not the future we wish for our graduates.
Release the UP students Jon Bonifacio and Psalty Caluza now!
Hold the police and the security forces of NutriAsia accountable for the violent dispersal of the workers and their supporters!
Denounce state fascism!
End contractualization now!
Iskolar ng bayan, maglingkod sa bayan!