Workers, trade union leaders and labor activists from the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and LEARN trade union affiliates were violently dispersed in a labor mobilization to demand the immediate pull-out of Filipino troops in Iraq to save Angelo dela Cruz, an overseas Filipino worker taken hostage by Iraqi Islamic rebels. A phalanx of baton-wielding anti-riot policemen, police cars and vans blocked the demonstrators along Recto when a scuffle ensued and the police started dispersing the demonstrators.
The contingent of more than 500 workers marched the stretch of Espana Ave. towards Mendiola yesterday (12 July) at 5pm to voice their concern over the possible beheading of hostage Angelo dela Cruz unless the Arroyo government withdraw its troops in Iraq. The Filipino hostage was given another 48 hours to live unless the Philippines agree to pull-out its troops in US-occupied Iraq by July 20, a month before the scheduled withdrawal of the Philippine military contingent. The rally intended otherwise to be peaceful turned violent when the anti-riot police decided to push back the labor demonstrators from Recto until they reached the gates of FEU along Morayta avenue. The trade unionists and labor activists however, vowed to return to Mendiola on Wednesday for a bigger demonstration to protest the plight of Filipino worker, Angelo dela Cruz, taken hostage in Iraq and facing certain death unless the Iraqi rebels’ demands are not met.
The Filipino overseas worker is one of the recent three prisoners scheduled to be beheaded unless the US occupation troops and the military forces from other countries pulls-out from Iraq. There were already three prisoners, an American, a Korean and a Jordanian, beheaded by Iraqi militants in recent months to protest the war on terror launched by the United States last year.