Labor group press DOLE, DOJ to act on attacks vs workers

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2023 08:20 PM

MANILA — Various labor groups on Monday visited the Justice and Labor departments to demand action on what they call attacks against workers in the country, one week before a high level delegation from the International Labor Organization (ILO) is expected to visit the Philippines.

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), PAMANTIK-KMU, Liga Southern Tagalog and other groups first gathered in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Padre Faura, Manila on Monday morning before heading to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Mendiola in the afternoon.

“'Yung aming karapatan na makapag-organisa ay tuloy-tuloy na inaatake at ang aming karapatan sa pagkakaroon ng malayang pakikipagtawaran ay hindi namin nae-exercise dahil sa tuloy-tuloy na paghihigpit sa aming hanay,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU national chairperson.

“Kung kaya’t kami po ay nandito ngayon sa DOJ upang ipaalala sa Justice Department na may injustice na nagaganap sa hanay ng mga manggagawang Pilipino. Kaya nga dapat bigyan ng masusing atensyon ang mga inirereklamong pag-atake sa mga hanay ng mga manggagawa lalong lalo na ang mga nagaganap na pagpaslang,” he added.

Labog was referring to the Bloody Sunday killings on March 6, 2021 where 9 activists were killed from Cavite, Batangas and Rizal provinces during simultaneous pre-dawn raids in their houses and offices.

Among those killed was labor leader Manny Asuncion, whom police said fought back upon service of a search warrant but his family and lawyers said no warrant was shown.

Instead, he was supposedly brought into a room and killed.

His case is now being investigated by the Administrative Order 35 task force on extrajudicial killings of activists.

Also killed during Bloody Sunday were fisherfolk leaders Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista in Nasugbu, Batangas, whose killings were witnessed by Evangelista’s 10-year-old boy.

Seventeen cops are now facing murder complaints before the DOJ’s AO 35 task force.

An independent forensic examination by forensic pathologist Dr. Racquel Fortun showed the activists were “shot to be killed.”

But for Labog, the DOJ is not doing enough.

“Wala na silang tinutugunang kaso ng mga reklamo ng mga pagpaslang at pag-atake sa hanay ng mga manggagawa. Kaya 'yan po ang dahilan kung bakit nakikita niyo ngayon ang mga manggagawa sa mga iba’t ibang pabrika ay nagrereklamo na tila walang nangyayaring resolusyon sa mga kasong idinudulog ng mga manggagawa,” he said.

Labog pointed to cases of missing labor activists such as KMU members Elizabeth "Loi" Magbanua and Alipio "Ador" Juat, who remain missing despite their families securing a Supreme Court protection order.

They were last seen attending a KMU meeting in Valenzuela on May 3 last year.

Just recently, 2 activists — Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha — were reported missing after returning to Cebu City on January 10.

Aside from the killings and disappearances, Labog said they have lodged freedom of association complaints and are condemning red-tagging of labor leaders and organizers.

“Kaya nga po mahalaga na umaksyon ang gobyerno sa mga reklamong ito at hindi lamang magkaroon ng showy-showy sa pagdating ng ILO high level tripartite mission sa susunod na linggo,” he said.

The ILO High Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM) will arrive in the Philippines on January 23 and will stay until January 27.

“The HLTM will investigate the mounting cases of violations of ILO Conventions 87 (freedom of association convention) and ILO Convention 98 (right to collective bargaining convention) which KMU filed as a member of the Council of Global Unions-Pilipinas,” according to KMU’s press release.

The Commission on Human Rights, in November last year, welcomed the Philippine government’s announcement that it will accept the high level mission.

“We view this as an indication of the government’s willingness to address serious transgressions and gaps in the implementation of its obligations under the ILO Convention No. 87 or the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention,” the CHR said in a statement.

“The Commission stresses the importance of this mission in bringing justice to victims of violence against labor unionists, preventing the occurrence of human rights violations in the future by correcting the culture of impunity, and in promoting a society where the rights of workers to organize and form associations and unions will be fully respected and protected,” it added.

The ILO Committee on the Application of Standards called on the Philippine government to accept the mission during the 108th session of the ILO in June 2019, noting “with concern the numerous allegations of murders of trade unionists and anti-union violence as well as the allegation regarding the lack of investigation in relation to these allegations.”

The Philippines ratified the ILO Convention No. 87 in December 1953.