Philippines: Labour leader disappeared after he was followed by persons believed to be military personnel in Cavite

On 27 August 2013 Benjamen Villeno, a full-time staff member of the Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture – May First Movement (Kilusang Mayo Uno) (OLALIA-KMU) went to Cavite to perform his task as a labour organiser. On the same day, Villeno sent an SMS to his colleague saying that he would visit his relative. The last SMS message that he sent was to inform his colleague that he was being followed by persons he believed to be military men somewhere in Cavite.

According to Wenecito Urgel, Secretary General of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU), “there is no other place to search” and they believed the victim is being held by the security forces. Like many other human rights and political activists, Villeno has been subjected to surveillance, allegedly by the military, the police and intelligence units.

Villeno is known for his commitment in organising unions and promoting good governance through campaigning for Bayan Muna, a political party. Villeno’s colleagues believe that he has been targeted by the security forces.