Karapatan condemns arrest of trade union activist in Quezon City

Rights group Karapatan condemned the arrest of trade union activist Benjamin Cordero, the most recent in what they believed to be another round of attacks against trade union activists and workers’s rights defenders.

According to initial reports from Karapatan Metro Manila, Cordero was arrested at past 11:00pm on October 26, 2022 in his home in Quezon City. He was reportedly served with a warrant of arrest dated October 24 based on charges of frustrated homicide issued by Branch 77 of the San Mateo, Rizal Regional Trial Court. He is currently detained at Batasan Police Station 6, Quezon City. Recommended bail is at P72,000.

Cordero is the chairperson of the Labor Sector of the QC City Development Council, and member of Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Quezon City. He is also currently the campaign officer of the Urban Poor Coordinating Council - National Capital Region.

“We believe that Cordero’s case stems from another trumped-up charge maliciously filed in court by state agents who may have the possible motive to deter Cordero from conducting his activities as a trade union activist. Also, it should be noted that the charges of frustrated homicide against him were filed in San Mateo, Rizal, when he is obviously spending a large part of his work in Quezon City. Many similar trumped up charges against activists were filed elsewhere, far away from their work or residence,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan Metro Manila also reported that Cordero did not receive a copy of the subpoena and complaint affidavit on the case, which is why they were unable to reply on the charges against Cordero. He was unable to participate in the preliminary investigation because he was not informed of any case against him. However, authorities were quick to serve the arrest warrant one day after it was issued, which means that authorities readily know Cordero’s address and information.

“We urge the court to look into the filing of charges against Cordero, and see whether his right to due process was violated. None of Cordero’s activities make him a criminal. Despite the previous dismissal of trumped up charges that were rendered baseless in the courts, state forces continue to file criminal charges against activists and rights defenders, taking away from them significant and productive time from their work and service to communities and in defense of people’s rights. We demand the release of Cordero, and the outright dismissal of charges against him,” Palabay said.

The arrest of Cordero comes after the arrest of KMU international officer Kara Lenina Taggaoa and Pasiklab Operators and Drivers Association-Piston president Larry Valbuena on October 10, on charges of direct assault. Both are out on bail.