Leonardo Escala, labor union president of Manila port operator International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI), was shot dead on Sunday evening, February 7, in Tondo, Manila.
According to the police report, Escala, 59, was with his niece, 4, when unidentified assailants shot them multiple times before speeding off aboard a scooter at around 7:20 pm.
The victims had just gotten off their vehicle at their residence when the gunmen attacked.
Escala died around an hour later at the hospital. His niece, who was shot in the back, is currently undergoing medical treatment.
According to the police, Escala had received death threats in relation to his work as ICTSI union president.
In a joint statement on Monday, February 8, Escala’s union Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa Pantalan Incorporated (NMPI)-ICTSI and umbrella group National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) demanded justice for the slain labor leader, also known as Ka Esca.
They called the killing an act of cowardice.
“Ang mga inutil at duwag na gumagamit ng dahas sa pamamagitan ng gatilyo ng baril ay tunay na mga salot sa lipunan – na ang intensiyon ay tuluyang patahimikin o kitilin ang tuloy-tuloy at prinsipyadong pamumuno ni Ka Esca bilang lider-manggagawa sa loob at labas ng pantalan, bilang tagapagtanggol ng karapatan at kagalingan ng uring manggagawang anakpawis,” the groups said.
(The pathetic cowards who use gun violence are the true pests of society – who had the intention to silence the principled leadership of Ka Esca as a labor leader inside and outside the port, as a defender of the rights and well-being of the working class.)
According to NMPI-ICTSI, Escala had served as president of the union for two terms since 2012. Escala also served as the 2nd vice president of the union for 4 years. He was also the vice chairman of Arya Progresibo, a group championing workers’ rights.
In his years as union president, Escala pushed for a more efficient workflow for ICTSI’s quality control operators. He also worked to improve the benefits of port workers through their collective bargaining agreement.
ICTSI on Monday condoled with Escala’s family and labor groups NMPI-ICTSI and NAFLU.
“We have lost a member of our community, a friend, and a leader who, through decades as both employee and labor representative, was the key driver in the positive and productive collaboration between the company and our employees,” said the port operator, led by magnate Enrique Razon Jr.
The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition also condemned Escala’s killing and called on the government to allow the entry of the International Labour Organization’s high-level fact-finding mission into the Philippines.
“We are outraged with the unending cycle of violence and impunity against trade unionists. These killings have to stop,” said labor lawyer Sonny Matula, chairperson of Nagkaisa.
In 2020, the International Trade Union Confederation listed the Philippines among the most dangerous countries for unionists. – Rappler.com