On labor leaders’ 25th death anniversary] Workers pay tribute to Rolando Olalia


On labor leaders’ 25th death anniversary] Workers pay tribute to Rolando Olalia


12 November 2011

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Workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno marked the 25th death anniversary of renowned labor leader and former KMU chairperson Rolando Olalia, Sr. yesterday with a short program in the site where his lifeless body was found in Antipolo City, Rizal in Nov. 13, 1986.

Leaders of the KMU and Olalia’s federation, the National Federation of Labor Unions or NAFLU, underscored the lack of justice over the death of the labor leader 25 years ago. They also highlighted the significance of Olalia’s life and untimely death for Filipino workers.

The commemoration was attended by Olalia’s son, Atty. Rolando Rico Olalia, Jr. as well as the labor leader’s friends and comrades in the labor movement. Flowers and candles were offered at the site, while a marker was enshrined.

“It angers us that after 25 years, no one has been punished for the death of an important labor leader in the country’s history. Olalia is a victim of the injustice that he fought against in his entire life,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“His life of struggle for the Filipino workers and people and his untimely death provide important lessons to unionists, labor activists and workers. For one, we cannot rely on pro-capitalist and anti-worker governments to uphold workers’ rights and seek justice over violations of workers’ rights,” he added.

After attending a meeting of a KMU member-union in Nov. 12, Olalia and his aide Leonor Alay-ay were reported missing. The following day, their lifeless bodies were found bearing clear marks of brutal torture.

Workers blamed the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa or RAM, a right-wing group within the military, which was carrying out assassinations in seeking to destabilize and topple the newly-installed government of Cory Aquino.

“Twenty-five years after Olalia’s death, worker activists are still being killed extra-judicially. The difference now is that the killers are not groups who want to grab power but who are already in power,” Soluta said.

“The extra-judicial killing of workers and the repression of workers’ rights remain unpunished. We continue to struggle for justice for Olalia, Alay-ay and the hundreds of worker activists who have been killed,” he added.

Independent labor NGO Center for Trade-Union and Human Rights reports that 96 worker activists were killed extra-judicially under the Arroyo administration while six worker activists have been killed under the current Aquino administration.

“As long as the government is essentially pro-capitalist and anti-labor, worker activists will continue to be killed and workers’ rights will continue to be violated. Olalia and Alay-ay struggled for genuine social change, and that is still our call,” Soluta said.




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