Twenty trade union leaders murdered in the Philippines over the last decade

Antonio Petalcorin, President of the Network of Transport Organisation (NETO) has been shot dead on his way to a union meeting. Antonio is one of twenty trade union leaders to have been murdered over the course of the last decade, and one of up to 1,000 politically motivated killings in the Philippines.

Submitted by working class … on July 15, 2013

This latest murder follows that of Romy Almacin last month, who like Antonio Petalcorin – was executed in broad daylight by a masked individual on a motorbike.

A spokesperson for the trade union federation (ITF) said that:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this cowardly slaughter of a man representing his members. We further condemn the continuing murders of other trade unionists, and the climate of impunity which is allowed to exist by the Philippines government. We offer our sincere condolences to the grieving family”.

There have been over 140 reported political killings in the Philippines under the presidency of Benigno Aquino – including a group of 30 journalists who were slaughtered by a group of masked gunmen. Other sources claim the real number of ‘political’ killings or disappearances to be around the 1,000 mark.

A list of trade unionists murdered in the Philippines since 2002:

1. Felipe Lapa, 49 years old, union president of Milagrosa Farm Workers Union – NAFLU-KMU, in Nagcarlan, Laguna, killed by CAFGU- paramilitary group on 25 October 2001 several meters away from his house. The day before he was killed he collected food supplies (meat, sweet potato) from the union members and sent this food support to the striking workers of Nissan Motors Corp, in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. As union president, he was elected community leader, and his advice often sought by residents. Prior to his death, he has been warned by CAFGU, to stop supporting union activities and for several occasions accused of being an NPA supporter. (ANNEX C1 – Copy of Certification from Liliw Municipal Police Station – Police Blotter of Felipe Lapa’s Case

2. Nenita Labordio – member of Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Footjoy Manufacturing-Independent, Marilao-Bulacan. Although not affiliated to a labour federation, the local union is member of KMB or Kilusan ng Manggagawa sa Bulacan (Bulacan Workers Movement) – a provincial workers alliance under Workers Alliance in Region III- KMU regional chapter. Labordio died when a company truck overran her at the picket line on
December 2002.

3. Angelito Mabansag – KADAMAY organizer from Tondo, Manila, was killed near his house in August 2003 by SPO4 Bartolome Tupaz of PNP anti-terrorist group. KADAMAY — an organization of informal workers and urban poor is an affiliate of KMU.

4. Samuel Bandilla, 40 years old, KMU organizer in Tacloban, Leyte, Eastern Visayas, and at the same time, Anakpawis leader, shot dead by unidentified man on motorbike on his way home after speaking in front of striking workers of Metro Tacloban Water District, on May 4, 2004.

5. Seven (7) Victims of Hacienda Luisita Massacre, November 16, 2004, during the most violent and bloodied strike dispersal in the post-Marcos era, committed by composite forces of Philippine Army and Phil. National Police as an implementation of the Assumption Order issued by then DOLE Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas. The strike was jointly led by the United Luisita Workers Union or ULWU-NLU (the farmworkers’ union) and Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union – CATLU (the mill workers’ union). ULWU and CATLU, though not affiliated to any KMU federation, are in fact members of Workers Alliance in Region III – KMU’s regional chapter.

5.1 Jesus Laza, 34 years old, male, farmworker and an active member of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), sustained two gunshot wounds in the chest.

5.2 Jun David, 28 years old, farmworker since he began working and an active member of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), sustained gunshot wound on the shoulder that penetrated downward to his left lung.

5.3 Adriano Caballero, 23 years old, male, part-time caddie at Hacienda Luisita Golf and Country Club and supported the strike. Sustained a gunshot wound on the chest that penetrated and lacerated his left liver, stomach and heart.

5.4 Jhaivie Basilio, 20 years old, male, worker of Central Azucarera de Tarlac, member of CATLU, sustained gunshot wound on the left buttocks and on the chest that penetrated his left lung and the base of his heart.

5.5 Jaime Pastidio, 46 years old, male, farmworker and ULWU member, sustained a gunshot wound in the mandibular area lacerating the neck and his left carotid artery and vein.

5.6 Juancho Sanchez, 20 years old, male, son of retrenched farmworker of HLI and a jeepney driver, sustained gunshot wound at left pelvic area that penetrated his stomach. His family supported the strike that his father, a unionist actively participated.

5.7 Jessie Valdez, 30 years old, male, farmworker of HLI and ULWU member. He sustained gunshot wounds on the right thigh but brought by the Army to the military camp instead of hospital. He died of severe blood loss.

6. Abelardo Ladera, male, 45 years old, Tarlac city Councillor, supporter of Hacienda Luisita strike, killed on 3 March 2005 and the only motive known was his strong support to the strike and for pushing for the investigation of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre at the Tarlac City Council.

7. Fr. William Tadena, 37 years old, priest from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, supporter of Hacienda Luisita strike, killed on 13 March 2005 immediately after he celebrated mass in his Church and called on parishioners to donate rice and goods to the striking workers
of Hacienda Luisita.

8. Edwin Bargamento, male, 46 years old, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSWKMU) Regional Executive Committee Member. He was murdered on 13 April 2005, sustained 22 gunshot wounds, on his way to a friend’s house after attending series of labour protests in Bacolod City, Negros. Prior to his murder, he received threats from members of RPA-ABB, an armed group linked to the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP), asking him to stop his NFSW organizing in Negros Occidental.

9. Mario Fernandez, 22 years old, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW-FGT-KMU) organizer, killed on 10 June 2005 in Silay City, Negros Occidental by suspected elements of Regional Mobile Group of Philippine National Police. The only possible motive known was to create an atmosphere of intimidation against organized masses who are set to join
the June 12 Day of Mourning rally.

10. Manuel Batolina, 50 years old, married and a resident of Hacienda Sangay, Barangay Purisima, Manapla, Negros Occidental. He was the National Federation of Sugar Workers president and organizes several haciendas in Manapla. He was killed on 13 June 2005 by unidentified armed men who opened fire at him while resting inside his nipa hut, killing him instantly. Prior to his murder – on the account of his daughter Laura Batolina at the
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) – he has received threats from RPA-ABB to stop his NFSW organizing in his area. (, an online magazine)

11. Antonio Pantonial, National Federation of Sugar Workers in Negros, killed on 6 July 2005. Incidents surrounding Pantonial’s murder resembled that of other NFSW organizers/leaders killed before him.

12. Diosdado Fortuna, president of the Union of Filipro Employees at Nestle Philippines, who led the workers strike since January 14, 2002. He was also the chairperson of PAMANTIK-KMU and chairperson of Anakpawis Partylist in the region. He was shot and killed on 22 September 2005, sustaining two gunshot wounds that pierced through his lungs. Prior to his death, he reported constant surveillances since their strike began. He was the second

Nestle Union president who was killed during the workers strike. Meliton Roxas, his predecessor, was killed in front of the picket line in 1989. Fortuna was elected union president a year after.
13. Victoria Samonte, female, 50 years old, president of the Andres Soriano College Employees Union, Vice-Chairperson of KMU-CARAGA region, killed on 30 September 2005. Her active involvement in different organizations as a long-time trade union leader was the only motive seen in her murder.

14. Ricardo Ramos, male, 47 years old, president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU), killed on 25 October 2005, inside a bamboo hut by unidentified armed men believed to be led by Sgt. Castillo and Sgt. De la Cruz of the 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army. Ramos was a leader of the strike and at the time of his murder, he just finished distributing to the union members the unpaid wages they won during the strike.



10 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by syndicalist on September 4, 2013

just saw this...yeah, the Philippines seems like the Columbia of that region. But it, sadly, appears that Guatamala has now overtaken Columbia.

Worth checking out, even if it's written from a social democratic perspective:


10 years 10 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Ablokeimet on September 5, 2013

It should be noted that none of these murders have been adequately investigated by the police, let alone the investigation resulting in an arrest and conviction. This is itself an admission that the State is responsible.

What I find most disappointing is that the KMU, of which most of the murdered unionists were members, has not responded to these murders in the way which should be obvious - with strikes. It has confined itself to protests only.

If I was in the KMU, I would be agitating for a policy to be adopted, through members' meetings across the federation, of holding a 24 hour strike after any unionist is murdered. Once adopted, the policy should be publicised. Further, the KMU should encourage workers in other unions, and unorganised workers, to join the strike in the event one is called. It is quite conceivable that this could lead to a general strike across the country in protest against the murder of union members.

Needless to say, the Government and the capitalists would criticise the KMU for adopting such a policy, because it would be outside the legal framework of industrial relations in the Philippines. To this, there is a simple reply. The KMU need only point out that the murders themselves are outside the legal framework and that there has been no adequate response to them by the State and its security forces.

If the capitalist class in the Philippines kills unionists, workers should respond by punishing it. Hit the b******s where it hurts - cut off the flow of profits. I bet that would be the most effective protection for union activists that is possible.