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Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto pledged to do everything in his power to save the arrested protesters and former workers of Regents Food Corporation after a strike happened last week Saturday, November 9. Wherein the security contractor of the said company filed charges to its former employees such as physical injury, resistance and disobedience, as well as alarm and scandal.
The police on their part also said last week that the strikers “became unruly” and threw stones, wood and metal bars at security personnel, which led to their arrest.
Sotto said violence only broke out after Regent management hired private security to disperse their striking employees.
Here’s the his full-statement regarding the case
VICO SOTTO’S STATEMENT
Several days ago, I told the owners/management of Regent Foods Corporation that if they did not drop the charges against the “Regent 23” by the end of this week, I would speak out in public.
From the start, I have made it clear to both sides: as the Local Government, we cannot interfere with the labor issues at hand, as this is under the jurisdiction of the Dept of Labor & Employment. HOWEVER, when my constituents are being deprived of liberty as they fight for their rights as workers, I cannot sit around and do nothing.
Here are the facts to the best of my knowledge:
1) On Saturday November 9, Regent management hired outside private security to disperse their employees on strike;
2) The situation was naturally tense and violence broke out. I have seen videos of the workers being kicked by the private security as they lay on the ground. As the situation escalated, the PNP got involved to pacify the situation;
3) 23 individuals were arrested — 20 workers, 2 members of another organization, and 1 TRICYCLE DRIVER WHO JUST WENT DOWN TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON;
4) I met with and listened to both sides;
5) I asked Regent to withdraw the charges against the 23. Mr. Irwin See and Ms. Susan See separately asked me to give them some time to ask their board.
(Technically, the complaints were filed by the private security, but the management have admitted that they are behind the complaints. They repeatedly told me, “pag-uusapan pa namin sa board” and “we will let you know pag nag-desisyon na ang board”);
6) Yesterday, upon multiple follow-ups, Regent’s lawyer informed us that they would NOT withdraw the charges.
Instead, they will “just trust the judicial process” — which is of course easy to say as multimillionaires who will eat 3x a day no matter what happens here; while the people they have sued have recently lost their main source of income and are now even torn away from their families.
In view of the foregoing, I will do everything within my power to help these 23 regain/maintain their liberty. 12 of them have already posted bail (including the tricycle driver, for whom around a dozen of us pooled in money to raise the amount needed). Yesterday (Sat) afternoon, I talked to the 11 still inside, and assured them that I will personally make sure that they are out on bail by Monday.
To the management of Regent Foods Corporation:
These people are not criminals; they do not have the goal of hurting you. They are fighting for what they believe to be just. You can continue with the labor dispute without sending the poor and powerless to jail! I condemn the misuse of your privileged position to suppress the rights of your protesting workers. If you want to have a healthy relationship with our city, I highly suggest you rethink your position.
This young Sotto obviously has the guts to go against a well-entrenched and influential company just to defend its abused workers who were not only deprived of their only source of income but were also slapped with many charges that would surely exacerbate their family’s financial crisis since those people detained were all breadwinners. The young Sotto was right – it would be prudent that the said company frees the said former employees. Otherwise, the consumers would have to think twice in buying products from Regents Food Corporation ever again.