MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment is now investigating the attack against a Philippine Airline Employees Association (PALEA) strike camp before dawn Saturday, which led to the death of a bystander.
In a press conference in Malacanang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the attack, which also resulted in the injury of at least 7 PALEA members, was “unfortunate and deplorable.”
She said, “while we understand that emotions are running high, we call on both PAL and PALEA to exercise sobriety in their dealings with each other.”
She added a monitoring team was already deployed by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz. “We expect a fair and thorough investigation on the incident.”
A bystander died from cardiac arrest when he was caught in the melee when some 50 men attacked PALEA’s camp. PALEA said the man was not a member.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño expressed dismay over the harassment allegedly being done by PAL management against striking ex-employees.
"It seems that PAL is involved in a war of attrition against its former employees and it is using its money and clout to get away with it. We are compelled to call on the PAL management and PALEA, as well as the so-called attackers and witnesses to explain their sides on the next hearing in Congress on the labor dispute,” he said.
Casino also warned PAL that, "Aside from the backlash from their patrons, we in Congress are drafting legislation that would stop or at least lessen these types of attacks against labor and punish employers that would use such means to cow or repress their employees."
Akbayan Representative Walden Bello also raised concern over the worsening situation at the PALEA protest camp, calling for a thorough, impartial investigation into the violent incident.
Who’s harassing who?
In a separate statement, PAL lambasted critics for laying the blame on them. .
The airline said it was grossly irresponsible for some left-leaning sectoral representatives to accuse PAL management of harassing former workers.
“It was clear from news reports and photos taken from the scene that former PAL workers barred the airline’s catering truck from leaving its own facility. They were armed with rattan truncheons, planks with nails and even burned a carton box all with the aim of inflicting harm should the truck driver insist on leaving PAL’s Inflight Center. So who’s harassing who?” PAL asked.
The firm also said police authorities “were nowhere to be found” when the truck was blocked.
Thereafter, the police “conveniently arrested” those supposedly hired by management to disperse the camp, it added.
“Worse, authorities were reportedly unable to apprehend those responsible for the death of a hapless bystander,” PAL said.