Bruise marks on Eric Tandoc’s face are clearly still visible, days after the July 30 violent breaking down of the picket line outside NutriAsia’s company grounds.
Tandoc and four other journalists, including his wife Hiyasmin Saturay, were among the 19 people arrested and held by Bulacan police.
Tandoc, Saturay, and Avon Ang of Altermidya were at the picket line covering the mass being held for the striking NutriAsia workers — when the company’s security guards and local police started to aggressively order them to stop filming, according to Saturay.
Tandoc and Saturay recounted their traumatic ordeal after they were released two days later. The two Long Beach, California residents and three other journalists still face illegal assembly, public alarm and scandal charges.
They are not only calling for the charges to be dropped — but they announced yesterday, that they support plans by lawyers to file counter charges against the Philippine National Police and NutriAsia security guards in behalf of all 19 people arrested.
Activists BA spoke to told us that their phones were confiscated by police. Altermidya journalists said their camera equipment, including Tandoc’s and Saturay’s phones, were also taken.
Meanwhile, Philippine vice president Leni Robredo just issued a statement condemning violent arrests, saying there was no excuse for the way police and private security guards treated the workers and supporters.
The Philippine Commission on Human Rights already sent a team to Bulacan to investigate what happened.
NutriAsia workers have been on strike for almost two months.
Workers claim poor working conditions and demand the end to contractualization.
Meanwhile, the company has said the protesters are not NutriAsia employees, but another company’s hired contractors.