EconomyEditor's PickLabor groups report PHL govt’s rights violations vs workers to ILO mission

January 23, 2023
PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter 

PHILIPPINE TRADE unions submitted a joint report on Monday to the International Labor Organization (ILO) on recent human rights violations and cases of harassment against workers and union organizers.  

In the 155-page report, the groups highlighted what they called the consistent failure of the Philippine government to comply with ILO conventions on freedom of association and the right to organize.  

“These institutional failures are punctuated by periodic surges of extreme forms of trade union repression including killings, violent harassment and intimidations inflicted upon trade unionists,” the labor groups said. 

The report detailed incidents such as the killing of labor union leader Emmanuel Asuncion, who was shot to death during police raids in 2021; cases of harassment and tagging labor activists as violent communists; and trumped-up charges filed against labor activists.  

Last week, the Philippine Justice department cleared 17 police officers accused of involvement in Mr. Asuncion’s death as government prosecutors did not find probable cause to charge the cops with the crime.  

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Jose “Sonny” G. Matula earlier said government agents did not do enough to ensure the prosecution of the officers involved in the labor leader’s murder.  

FFW and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) were among the labor groups that provided information on rights violations for the report.   

ILO representatives Thomas Mikael Janson (Government), Felix Mark Anthony (Workers) and Scott Barklamb (Employers) will hold dialogues with labor groups and employers from Jan. 23 to 26.  

Following its mission, the team of officials will propose recommendations on improving the conditions of Filipino workers to the Philippine government.  

Labor groups on Monday said the ILO’s mission should lead to new policies that would uphold the basic rights of workers and stop instances of violence against them.  

“What we want is the protection of our Constitutional right to freedom of association — this includes putting an end to the killings and resolving ongoing cases of rights violations,” KMU Chairperson Elmer C. Labog said in a statement on Monday.  

“This requires policy changes from the government, which is why we also urge the ILO to call the attention of the Marcos Jr. administration on these violations.” 

The Nagkaisa labor coalition said in a separate statement that the ILO officials will meet with 52 trade union officials, while government officials and representatives from the employer sector would also meet with the team separately.  

“The mission, organized by the International Labor Organization, is a crucial opportunity for the Philippines to show its dedication to promoting freedom of association, decent work, and better working conditions for its citizens,” Nagkaisa said. 

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