The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights has called on the authorities to conduct an “immediate and thorough” investigation of the recent murder of Celito Baccay, union officer and founder of Maeno-Giken Workers Organization in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Celito Baccay was murdered in March 8 when he was on his way home from the Maeno-Giken plant by unidentified assassin/s riding a motorcycle. Co-workers were driving motorcycles ahead of him when they heard a motorcycle crash behind them. They immediately stopped and found out it was Baccay. Baccay sustained two gunshot wounds that caused his death.
“This incident is another attack on the workers right to life. The murder of Baccay should be immediately and thoroughly investigated by the authorities and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to jail,” Armand Hernando CTUHR documentation head said.
In a fact-finding mission conducted by the CTUHR, the Workers Assistance Center (WAC) and the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), the team discovered that there was an ongoing dispute between MAGIKWO and the management. Since the union’s inception, the management reportedly had been actively engaged in activities to frustrate union organizing. In the last certification elections (CE) in September 2010, the management was said to have dissuaded the workers from voting yes to a union. And when it succeeded in its ploy with No-union winning in the CE, the situation of the union members worsened. Workers also reported of continued harassment and harsher disciplinary actions.
Even after their loss in the CE, the union reportedly persisted in its organizing and union activities. This worsened the divide and animositybetween the union and the management especially between Baccay and the company Vice-President, Mr. Gat Denis Melchor. Baccay is said to have always been the staunchest member of the union especially in resisting discriminatory acts by the management against union members and officials. Coincidentally, a day before Baccay’s death, Mr. Melchor reportedly asked some workers who owned the motorcycles parked in the plant.
Mr. Melchor, as found out in the fact-finding mission, is also a member of a gunner’s club and constantly brings his guns in the factory where at he also sometimes cleans and replaces the bullets.
After more than three weeks, there remains no clear direction for the investigation of the murder as no witness can clearly identify the gunner/s or even the vehicle he/they used. Members of MAGIKWO however stated with caution to fact-finding team that there can be no other motive behind Baccay’s killing except his union affiliation and activities.
CTUHR expressed alarm over the future of the case and its implications on MAGIKWO members. “Intimidating and virtually crushing the union appears to be the most plausible motive behind the killing. Now, the the members of MAGIKWO are now very much fearful for their lives because of what happened. We urge the government to protect the other unionists and immediately bring the perpetrator to justice,” Hernando stated.
“We strongly condemn Baccay’s murder including the continuous harassment inflicted upon members of the union. Capitalists should be reminded that forming unions is a constitutional right and they should be able to organize themselves freely without fear of retaliation, worse of being killed. We call on everyone to join us in our call for justice for Baccay and for other trade union leaders who were murdered (See Urgent Appeal). Ultimately, we call on the government to bring this case to a close and end the culture of impunity,” Hernando added.#