MAC: Mines and Communities

Following the threats to, and murder of, prominent anti-mining campaigners, and the recent assassina

Published by MAC on 2005-10-10

Following the threats to, and murder of, prominent anti-mining campaigners, and the recent assassination of a Filipino union leader, Diosdado Fortuna, who was in dispute with Nestlé, there has been an attempt on the life of the union president who is fighting Atlas mining on the island of Cebu.

"Atlas Mining Corporation Union President Tony Cuizon, ambushed; trade union leaders targets for assasination"

KMU Press Statement

10 October 2005

Another labor union leader was ambushed this morning and was rushed to the Chung Hua Hospital. Tony Cuizon, union president of Atlas Mining Corporation based in Cebu City, was shot by still unidentified assailants at around 8:30 this morning.

Cuizon, together with his mother, 2 grand daughters and their household help were on board a car when 4 motorcycle riding men wearing bonnets fired at their car. Cuizon bore three gunshot wounds near the shoulder and one on his right hand. The assailants used .45 caliber weapons. He is now in serious condition.

Cuizon is also a former National Council member of Kilusang Mayo Uno. He heads the Pagkahiusan ng mga Mamumuo sa Atlas (PAMA; Unity of Workers in Atlas) employees union who are facing an enduring labor dispute that started after the company closed and stopped operations in 1994 and failed to pay the separation pay of almost 1000 miners and employees of the mining company. Atlas is one of the biggest copper mining companies in Asia in the 1980s. According to Elpie Caterbas, Secretary General of Alyansa ng mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo (AMA-SUGBO-KMU; Sugbo Workers Alliance), the regional chapter of KMU in Central Visayas, Atlas Mining Corporation will soon resume its operations, as around 400 retrenched workers filed petition for their separation pay to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

KMU Chairman Elmer Labog said the killings and attempts to kill trade union leaders has now spread throughout Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and bear common modus operandi. First with the killing of Nestle Union President and chairperson of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU; Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog) Diosdado Fortuna last September 22, followed by the brutal killing of Vicky Samonte, Vice Chairperson of KMU CARAGA and union president of Andres Soriano College in Bislig, Surigao del Sur last September 30.

"Labor leaders who are leading workers' struggles for job security, higher wages and trade union rights are now actual targets of terrorism coming from the management of companies and elements of the state including the police, military and intelligence agents."

Until now, Philippine National Police Calamba has not yet solved the killing of Diosdado Fortuna and maliciously dismissed the case as an internal rift among Nestle employees. "We will not be surprised if police forces will maliciously regard the shooting of Cuizon as an internal rift among Atlas workers also."

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