Report of ILO High-Level Mission A Cause for Serious Concern- CTUHR

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights finds the recent report of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) to the Philippines issued on February 24 a cause of serious concern.

In its report:

“The Committee once again recalls the importance it attaches to the Government making all efforts to ensure that workers may exercise their trade union rights in a climate free from violence, threat and fear. It notes with interest from the Government’s latest report that, in keeping with the High-level Mission’s recommendations, the Executive Secretary, speaking on behalf of the President, confirmed the Government’s commitment to create a high-level tripartite monitoring body to review the progress made in investigating and prosecuting the cases of violence brought to the attention of the ILO supervisory machinery.”

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With this statement, the ILO CEACR seems to be unduly if not dangerously overlooking the facts on why trade unions filed complaints with the ILO and why they asked for an ILO high-level mission.

Trade unions and labour rights organizations had been reiterating all these time that in the Philippines, what the Arroyo government says is often a complete opposite of what it does to the people. The report apparently missed the point that the Arroyo administration’s brazen attacks on workers through outright militarization, anti-union laws, condoning violence and repression in the workplace and perpetuating the culture of impunity in society are at the very core of the union complaints primarily filed by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement).

The report further stated:

“It (the ILO Committee) further notes the Executive Secretary’s statement that, with the repeal of the anti-subversion law, those opposing the Government are no longer regarded as subversive or targeted in this regard and any such persecution will not be tolerated.”

CTUHR is seriously concerned that despite numerous reports of violations, and despite the Alston Report, the ILO continues to rely on the claims of the current administration, as if the Committee is oblivious to these prior reports. Executive Ermita’s statements are lies. The anti-subversion law was repealed 17 years ago, during the Ramos regime, and yet, activists and trade unionists are still being hounded and killed. Under the Arroyo administration, there are more than a thousand victims of extra-judicial killings in the country, 95 of whom are from the labor sector. And there are more than 200 cases of enforced disappearances. No suspect was prosecuted. Instead they were applauded as in the case of Gen. Palparan, and awarded as in the case of soldiers who arrested in Morong the 43 healthworkers.

Despite the ILO High-Level Mission on Sept 22 -29 last year and the government’s ‘commitments,’ violations of workers’ rights, particularly their rights to freedom of association, persist. In fact, on September 25, during the ILO-HLM itself, an illegally detained worker of Karnation Industries, Mr. Leo Paro, died of respiratory complication due to inhumane prison conditions. His case was also brought to the ILO-HLM even after the mission, but the Arroyo administration did not raise a finger to look into this case.

Worse, there have been five more cases of intimidation and harassment, one of which led to a stroke and eventual death of the victim, and one case of extra-judicial killing of a known trade union leader in Negros Occidental, since the ILO-High-Level Mission last September.

These cases are as follows:

  • Surveillance by suspicious men of Butch Rosales, HR Correspondent of CTUHR and Cebu Workers Center, last October 2, 2009
  • Murder of Reynaldo Bucaling, Chairperson of Pakigdaet sa Kalambuan sa Kambayugo (PSK), an NFSW affiliate organization in Negros Occidental, by members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, RPA-ABB last October 4, 2009.
  • Harassment and intimidation of Maureen Hermitanio, former staff of Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod on October 24, 26, and 28 by two men claiming themselves to be members of the San Mateo Police. They insisted a background investigation of the victim.
  • Threat and harassment leading to stroke and subsequent death of Danilo Belano, an organizer of International Seafarers Action Center, and former organizer of KMU, on November 25 to 26, 2009 by alleged members of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
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