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Wednesday, 21 September 1983
Page: 1073


Mr MILTON —Is the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that the Philippines Constabulary Security Group has called before it two women, Norma Pineda and Monica Gondo, together with two other officers of the union at the Judric Canning Co., a subsidiary of the Australian company, Safcol, in Manila, in the name of national security? In view of the fact that a number of union organisers have been killed or have disappeared in the recent past in or near Manila and that 35 union officials and members at the Judric Canning Co. are in gaol or under house arrest, will the Minister ask the Australian Embassy to make inquiries as a matter of great urgency of Colonel Ishmael L. Rodrigo regarding the attentions that the security police have afforded these two women?


Mr HAYDEN —As coincidence would have it, I know a little about this matter largely because the honourable member took the insurance of mentioning it to me. The strength of the coincidence is weakened by the fact that he mentioned it more than a week ago and I have forgotten a great deal of the details in the interim. However, my recollection of the circumstances is this: Following the honourable member's approach to me on this matter I had formal and official inquiries made on the matter in Manila. My recollection is that the information elicited from those inquiries was that the two women concerned are involved in an internal union dispute. They are active members of their union. The dispute is as to whether funds collected to cover union members employed at the establishment to which the honourable member referred should be paid to the parent body or should go into the hands of the local job site representatives. My understanding is that the Philippines Government authorities in Manila have not been involved in this matter. Of course, we will maintain interest in this matter and should anything develop which requires our attention I will make sure that the honourable member is informed about it.