MANILA, Philippines – A bystander died from a heart attack while eight protesters from Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) were injured when the terminated airline workers’ camp was attacked by at least 50 men in Pasay City Saturday, police said.
Palea and PAL management traded accusations later in the day, each one accusing the other of harassment.
Arvin Macalalad, who was in his late fifties, died of cardiac arrest when he was caught in the middle of a what was described as a veritable riot while waiting for a bus ride on the corner of MIA and Baltao Road, near the Palea protest camp outside the In-flight Center of Philippine Airlines.
Case investigator Dennis Desalisa said that Macalalad, a construction worker, was declared dead on arrival at 6:20 a.m. at the San Juan De Dios Hospital. Macalalad was identified by a co-worker but the victim’s age and address were not known.
The eight injured Palea members were identified as Froilan Tancinco, Ester Gonzaga, Tranquilino Simplico Jr., Noel Penetrante, Lover Manibo, Rosmar Elaurza, Pablito Leonardo and Ronald Salazar. The Inquirer could not immediately determine the extent of their injuries.
Salazar confirmed that Macalalad was not a member of Palea.
Salazar, the Palea protest camp manager, said they were caught unprepared by the “early morning attack” by a group of security aides in civilian clothes wearing helmets and shields who tried to clear out their tent.
The Palea protesters tried to defend their ground when a bus without a plate number parked near the site and fifty more men alighted and attacked the protesters.
“These people were hired by PAL management and were geared up to forcibly remove us from the tent,” Salazar claimed.
One of the men, identified as Johnny Dela Cruz, was cornered by the protesters, according to Desalisa.
He was taken to the Pasay City prosecutor’s office for inquest on charges of physical injury, malicious mischief and robbery.
The robbery complaint stemmed from the loss of bracelets and watches by some of the Palea protesters, Desalisa said.
Dela Cruz admitted that he was hired by “management” but did not elaborate or name who hired his group, according to a report prepared by Chief Inspector Joey Goforth, Pasay police chief investigator.
Salazar told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that while Palea had no evidence to prove that the goons were hired by the PAL management, he said PAL “was the only one that has the motiive, it’s the only one interested in dispersing Palea’s picket camp.”
“On the eve of Halloween, the bad spirits of greedy corporations are haunting the workers. This is the second time that PAL has attempted to disperse Palea’s camp – out but they are getting more brazen,” added Palea president Gerry Rivera.
Last week, a commotion also happened at the Palea camp Pasay City sheriff Virgilio Villar and his men arrived to implement a 72-hour temporary restraining order from the city regional trial court to stop Palea’s demonstration. Palea claimed the TRO was no longer in effect as the case had just been raffled off to another judge.