Hundreds seek justice at funeral for slain labor leader Dennis Sequeña

Samantha Bagayas
Hundreds seek justice at funeral for slain labor leader Dennis Sequeña
Dennis Sequeña's colleagues vow never to stop demanding action on his case until his killers are caught

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of people joined the funeral march that brought the remains of slain labor leader Leonides “Dennis” Sequeña to Sta Cruz Memorial Park in Cavite on Wednesday, June 12.

Various labor groups including Partido Manggagawa (PM) led the funeral march wearing matching shirts, carrying banners, and sporting red ribbons around their arms, calling for justice for Sequeña.

Sequeña was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Barangay Bunga in Tanza, Cavite, while he was giving a lecture on trade unionism. The 48-year-old, known fondly by colleagues as Ka Dennis, was the vice chairperson of PM Cavite and the group’s 4th nominee for the party-list race during the 2019 midterm elections.

People who joined the procession raised their fists to honor Sequeña, calling him “bayani ng manggagawa sa EPZA (hero of workers in the Export Processing Zone Authority).”

Sequeña is best remembered for his work organizing laborers in the Cavite EPZA. He asserted their rights and spoke out against contractualization.

 

Cristeta Sequeña, wife of Dennis, promised to honor her husband’s memory by continuing his legacy of fighting for workers’ rights.

“Ipagpapatuloy namin ang iyong nasimulan. Masakit man, pero tatanggapin namin at hindi titigilan hangga’t mabigyan ng hustisya. Sana mapabilis,” she said.

(We will continue what you’ve started. It hurts, but we will accept it and we won’t stop until we get justice. Hopefully, things will speed up.)

 

Rene Magtubo, PM’s national chairman, said he and his colleagues would not stop demanding action on Sequeña’s case until his killers are caught.

“Ito’y huling paghahatid, pero alam natin hindi ito ang huli, sapagkat ang sigaw natin simula [nang siya ay] napaslang ay hustisya. Tayo po ay hindi titigil sa paghahanap ng hustisya, sa pagkatok sa lokal na gobyerno ng Cavite para tugisin ang pumaslang sa kanya,” Magtubo said.

(We may be laying him to rest, but we know this is not the end because we’ve been crying for justice since he was killed. We will never stop seeking justice, never stop knocking on the local government of Cavite’s doors to capture the people who killed him.)

Although Cavite has lost an influential labor leader, PM Cavite chairperson Ramil Cangayao said the funeral march proved that workers in the province are still as united as ever.

“Hindi ito ang huli nating laban…. Irerehistro natin sa buong Cavite na ang mga manggagawa ay patuloy na lalaban hanggang makamit natin ang katarungan bilang manggagawa,” Cangayao said.

(This is not our last fight…. Let’s make it known to all of Cavite that workers will continue to fight until we attain our rights.)

During the funeral, people sang left-wing anthem “The Internationale” in Filipino to celebrate Sequeña’s work as an activist.

 

They later placed their banners and red ribbons on Sequeña’s coffin right before his burial.

Finally, lit candles and signs calling for justice were placed on his grave. – Rappler.com

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Samantha Bagayas

Samantha Bagayas is a community and civic engagement specialist under MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm. Aside from writing stories about movements and civic initiatives, she works with movers and campus journalists across the Philippines to amplify issues affecting their communities.