Washington, D.C. – Disturbing reports from the Philippines indicate that military police have raided the regional offices of several progressive and union organizations in Bacolod, arresting union organizer Mary-Anne Krueger (known as Anne) as well as an organizer for the BPO Industry Employee Network (BIEN), who was subsequently released. Witnesses to the raid report that those conducting the raid planted two pistols and eight bullets in two parts of the property as a pretext to make the arrests.
Anne Krueger, along with her husband Michael de la Concepcion, are longtime union organizers in the Philippines and allies of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), even hosting striking CWA members in their homes when a delegation visited during the 2016 Verizon strike. Today’s arrests, which may number as many as 60, appear part of a larger orchestrated crackdown designed to sow fear and chill worker organizing efforts.
According to Chris Shelton, President of CWA, “The arrest of Anne Krueger and larger raids and retaliation against union and progressive organizers are unacceptable and the latest evidence of the effort to silence and intimidate those seeking to improve the lives and conditions of Filipino workers.
“CWA strongly condemns the raids and arrests and stands in solidarity with Anne and her family and all those arrested in what appears to be a crackdown on workers exercising their human rights.
“We call on other international observers, including multinational corporations operating in the massive BPO industry in the Philippines, to use their voices to call for Anne’s release as soon as possible and to speak out against the climate of fear and retaliation targeting workers that is on the rise in the Philippines under the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
According to Tim Dubnau, Deputy Director of Organizing for CWA, “In 2016, I was part of a delegation of striking Verizon workers who flew to the Philippines to speak with call center workers who were working for Verizon contractors and who supported the CWA members striking at Verizon. I met with pro-worker activists from BIEN, including Michael and Anne who chaperoned our delegation throughout Manila. I went to their home, met their little kids, and spent long hours getting to know them both. It is clear that both Anne and Michael are loving parents to their children, and don’t have a violent bone in their body. It is simply not credible that either of them would be involved with any violence whatsoever, and there is simply no way they are involved in any insurgency. They are dedicated to lifting up working people who make low wages working for giant transnational corporations, and they are equally dedicated to lovingly raising their 5 young children. They deserve to be cleared of charges and reunited with their family as soon as possible.”
According to coverage in the Filipino outlet Inquirer.net:
“Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said on Thursday evening that combined forces of the police and military have raided the regional offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. According to information from Zarate, elements from the Philippine Army wrongly alleged that 57 persons, including 10 minors were undergoing firearms and explosive training in the offices.
…the lawmaker said this is merely a harassment of progressive groups critical of the government policies, adding that the raid was conducted at a certain time when courts are closed, as the persons apprehended cannot challenge their arrest.
… “Bayan Muna strongly condemns the dastardly Gestapo-like raid still being simultaneously conducted by state forces against the offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela and NFSW in Bacolod, Negros Occidental … They conducted the raid at night before a long weekend so as to ensure that the courts are closed tomorrow so that the planted pieces evidence and subsequent trumped-up charges filed cannot immediately be challenged.”