MANILA— Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on Tuesday filed before the Geneva-based UN agency International Labor Organization (ILO) a complaint against the Philippine government over its alleged participation in killings and harassment of Filipino workers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"KMU respectfully submits to the ILO–Committee on the Freedom of Association a complaint centered on cases of extrajudicial killings (EJK), illegal arrests, unjust detention, grave threats, harassment and intimidation of trade union leaders in the Philippines in 2020-2021," the group said in their complaint, a copy of which was sent to ABS-CBN News.
KMU accused the government of violating ILO Convention 87 on "Freedom of Association" and ILO Convention 98 on "Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining" when it allegedly committed the following:
- Killings of workers, 56 since Duterte took office in 2016, based on data from Center for Trade Union and Human Rights
- Arrest and torture of workers
- Intimidation by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC
- Red tagging of labor leaders
The labor group cited the "Bloody Sunday" massacre in Southern Tagalog in March that saw the killings of 9 activists, among them Manny Asuncion, provincial coordinator of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Cavite; and Melvin Dasigao and Mark Lee Bacasno of peasant organization San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran, at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD K3).
"Our union leaders are being killed so they cease to perform their roles in the trade union movement. Their lives are threatened and being taken away precisely because they lead workers’ struggles and represent genuine trade unionism," KMU said.
Also included in the complaint are the alleged harassment and threats of the government's anti-insurgency arm NTF-ELCAC against union leaders to convince them to renounce affiliations with labor centers such as KMU.
"Since the first quarter of 2020, agents of the NTF-ELCAC have been intimidating union leaders and members to disaffiliate with their unions, federations and labor centers, through persistent harassment and threats during visits... The heavily-funded NTF-ELCAC has become the main instrument of human rights abuses in the country," KMU said.
KMU identified Nexperia Philippines Inc. Workers Union and Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union as targets of alleged "repeated" harassment by NTF-ELCAC.
"The NTF-ELCAC is behind a disaffiliation resolution which workers are now being forced to sign," KMU said.
As a redress, KMU is asking the ILO to send an independent team to the Philippines to conduct its own investigation into the alleged violations.
It also wants the ILO to "institute independent mechanisms for the monitoring of cases of trade union rights violations in the Philippines and require the Philippine government to submit regular reports in its compliance with Conventions 87 and 98."
To mark the filing of the ILO complaint, KMU and other progressive organizations held a caravan protest outside the offices of the Departments of Labor and Employment, Justice, Interior and Local Government to ask government to "stop the attacks" and defund NTF-ELCAC.
KMU said the complaint was transmitted to the ILO office in Switzerland on Tuesday and they are expecting acknowledgement of receipt within the next 3 days.
ABS-CBN News sought Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III's comment regarding the ILO complaint but he has yet to respond as of this writing.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said they would simply wait on the ILO's decision on the complaint.
"Hintayin po natin kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng ILO," Palace spokesman Harry Roque told a press conference following KMU's filing.
(We will wait for the decision of the ILO.)