MOn September 10, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) joined fellow labor and human rights defenders and advocates at the Commission on Human Rights’ public inquiry on the attacks on human rights defenders in the country. 

“We welcome these efforts of the CHR to hear the plight of human rights defenders in the country today. The human rights situation in the country has reached a record-low point where policies, state forces and agencies are all geared oriented to repress people’s dissent amidst growing discontent and poverty,” said CTUHR Executive Director Daisy Arago. 

For the past three years, the Philippines has consistently landed on the top 10 worst countries for workers according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Rights Index Reports. This is a clear manifestation of the dire state of workers’ rights in the country. 

Arago, in her presentation, highlighted the 43 workers, unionists and labor rights defenders extrajudicially killed under Duterte’s three years in power. She also noted that most of these killings happened under the pretext of Duterte’s policies such as the Oplan Tokhang, Martial Law in Mindanao, Oplan Sauron in Negros and the Executive Order 70 (whole-of-nation approach and creation of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and Oplan Kapanatagan.

Some of the victims of EJK among workers are Francisco Guevarra, a PLDT union member; Linus Cubol, former president of Manila; Merly Valgun and Dorie Mallari, Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of  Annex Vendors Association- KADAMAY Cavite; Dannyboy Bautista, Board Member of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (NAMASUFA-KMU) in Compostela Valley;  and Felipe Dacal-Dacal, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW). 19 of the 43 killed were sugar workers in Negros and part of the NFSW, including the 9 workers killed in the Sagay massacre. 

The CTUHR Executive Director highlighted the killing of one of their former staff in Cebu, Butch Rosales, who was killed in broad daylight in a public transportation. Since 2009, Rosales has been receiving death threats due to his work as a labor rights defender and recently, as a volunteer of the Rise Up for Life and Rights Network. 

“Even from the beginning of Duterte’s term, he has been vocal about his views against unions and strikes, so this atmosphere of violence and repression against workers come as no surprise. However, it is still very alarming, as this administration continues to connive with and favor capitalists over the exploited workers,”said Arago.

Arago further added that the attacks against workers, especially those who are organized or organizing their ranks, are systematic. The State employs a variety of tactics to silence and repress the growing discontent among workers – harassment, vilification, fabricated trumped up charges, red-tagging, violent dispersals, abduction and brutal killing.

We call on the CHR to urge and pressure the government to accept the Intenational Labor organization’s tripartite High-Level Mission to the Philippines, which shall investigate the strings of labor rights violations in the country,”Arago appealed to the Commission. She added that the workers are in urgent need of the CHR’s help and support in their fight for justice for all the rights violations that this regime, together with the capitalists, have committed. “Help us hold these culprits accountable and protect the rights of the workers,”Arago ended.###