LOS ANGELES, California - The mother of a journalist who was arrested following a violent dispersal of NutriAsia's striking workers in Bulacan is appealing for the release of her son and daughter-in-law.
Amy Tandoc said her son Eric and his wife Hiyas Saturay are Long Beach-based activists and journalists who were volunteering for alternative press Altermidya to cover the two-months-long strike of workers who are protesting NutriAsia's alleged unfair labor policies.
"It broke my heart seeing him being dragged like an animal as if he is a criminal. He is not he’s just doing his job. He’s just very passionate of helping people," said a tearful Tandoc after watching the Facebook video of her son being arrested.
"If he does not get enough iron in him in his diet he might pass out and need blood transfusion. He’s also has a sinus problem that’s aggravated," she added.
NutriAsia, in a statement, claimed the workers threw rocks at the security forces at the picket line but video footage captured by the League of Filipino Students showed rocks were hurled at the direction of the protesters who were running away.
"Around 200 striking workers of Toll Packer BMirk and their supporters, fired a shot in the air and started to hurl rocks at police and guards tasked to maintain peace and order in the area," the condiment giant said in a statement.
NAI also claimed that the "aggressive action" by the strikers and their supporters violated the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Regional Trial Court in Malolos City, Bulacan on July 26, 2018.
But according to the workers, they were holding Mass with some of their supporters when the security forces attacked them. Several workers and supporters were arrested, the protesters recalled, with police reportedly accusing them of having guns and illegal drugs.
"Were they read their rights before they were arrested? Were they asked to get a phone call or something? I don’t know what other trumped-up cases did they do that made them arrested? I’m sure both of them never smoke. They never do drugs," Tandoc said.
The mom, who is also an activist, were joined by their colleagues as they rallied outside the Philippine consulate Monday night to appeal for the release of her son and daughter-in-law. They will be meeting with the Los Angeles consul general Tuesday afternoon.
A lawmaker had already sought a Senate inquiry into the labor issues hounding NutriAsia, which manufactures UFC Ketchup, Mang Tomas All-Purpose Sauce, and Datu Puti vinegar and soy sauce.
Workers at began their strike on June 2, demanding the management to recognize their union, regularize employees, and hire back those they say were illegally dismissed.