Camp Aguinaldo is the main military camp in the Philippines.
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One month after Benjamen Villeno, a leader of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Tagalog, sent his last text message to comrades saying he is being trailed by military men, KMU picketed Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to demand that Villeno, now declared disappeared, be surfaced.
Villeno, 43, was on his way home to Dasmariñas City in Cavite last Aug. 27 when he sent the text message to his comrades in the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik), KMU’s regional chapter in Southern Tagalog.
Pamantik declared Villeno disappeared after weeks of trying but failing to find him in places where he might have gone to.
“We condemn the enforced disappearance of our comrade and leader Ka Ben and we demand that he be surfaced immedately. If the Aquino government thinks human-rights violations like this will weaken protests against the pork barrel scam, then it is mistaken,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
Villeno is a former president of the Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda and chairperson of Pamantik and the Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture or OLALIA, a KMU federation.
He also served as coordinator of partylist group Bayan Muna and of the Satur for Senator Movement for former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo’s senatorial bid in 2010.
“Ka Ben’s last text message says it all. We point to the military as responsible for Ka Ben’s abduction. He has been under surveillance and has been subjected to intimidation by the military for the longest time,” Labog said.
Shouting “Pangulong Ben Villeno, lider-obrero! Ilitaw! Ilitaw!” the workers carried placards bearing Villeno’s photo and the word “Surface” written under it.
“When the Arroyo regime faced severe political crises, it resorted to violating activists’ human rights. That’s what we are seeing now with the Aquino regime facing its most severe crisis caused by the pork barrel scam,” Labog said.
KMU vowed to continue holding protests condemning Villeno’s abduction and calling for his immediate surfacing.
“Ka Ben does not deserve to be kept away from his family, friends and comrades any longer. We are calling all workers, unionists and labor advocates across the country and around the world to condemn Ka Ben’s abduction and demand that he be surfaced immediately,” Labog said.