The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights commemorates this March two trade unionists, Rogelio Concepcion and Gerardo “Gerry” Cristobal, both victims of human rights violations of the Arroyo administration, saying their legacy signifies the undying struggle of the workers for justice and trade union rights.

“The cases of Cristobal and Concepcion remind us that the fight for justice and trade union rights should live on even amidst unrelenting state violence, oppressive and exploitative social structures.” Dylin Lauron, CTUHR coordinator for Women WISE3 said.

Gerry Cristobal was President of Samahan ng Manggagawa Independent in EMI Yazaki. Cristobal survived three attempts on his life including an ambush that severely wounded him. On March 10, 2010, he was killed by unknown men in Imus, Cavite. On the other hand, Rogelio Concepcion, officer-in-charge of the Solid Development Corporation Workers Association (SDCWA), was abducted on March 6, 2006 at 10 PM by unidentified men near their factory in San Ildelfonso, Bulacan. Concepcion is still missing up to now.

“Many years have passed since Concepcion was abducted and Cristobal was killed; there was already a change of administration and yet, justice for these two union leaders is still a far away dream. Jovito Palparan, former commander of the 24th Infantry Battalion, Armed Forces of the Philippine, referred to as the “berdugo” (beheader), known to have perpetrated many human rights killings and disappearances during the Arroyo administration, remains out of prison.”

“Worse, human rights killings and other forms of human rights violations did not end in the Aquino administration.  On the contrary, Oplan Bayanihan, the counter-insurgency program of this administration, has added more victims of extra-judicial killings, criminalization and violation of trade union rights while previous cases remain unresolved,” Lauron added.

To date, there are 137 victims of extrajudicial killings since Aquino took office in July 2010. Eight of these are from the labor sector. CTUHR also documented more cases of criminalization against activists and unionists, with an average of 90 victims per year since 2010 compared to 42 victims per year between 2004-2009).

CTUHR reminded the Government of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) recommendations following ILO’s High level Mission in 2009, “In compliance to international conventions signed by the government, the Aquino administration should end human rights killings and other forms of violations committed against unionists who are merely exercising their union rights.” The group also urged the government to resolve past cases of human rights violations and scrap Oplan Bayanihan.###