ILO confab Told: Philippines not Making Progress on Labor Rights

June 7, 2024

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) welcomes the inclusion of the Philippines in the agenda of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 112th International Labour Conference, currently being held in Geneva, Switzerland.

We tell the ILO’s ILC: the Philippines is not making any progress in protecting labor rights and human rights. The data speaks for itself: under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr presidency, the country has seen the piling up of cases of extrajudicial killings of labor activists, now at 72 and no one was served justice, six (6) cases of abductions involving 10 labor organizers, 117 cases of violations of the right to assembly, 115 cases of anti-union activities, 53 trumped-up charges against labor activists, and 44 arrests of labor activists based on trumped-up charges.

The Marcos Jr government has not taken any action to hold accountable the alleged perpetrator/s of the extrajudicial killings, abductions and other labor and human rights violations. It has also not done anything to free the 28 political detainees who are labor activists in the country who were hounded and imprisoned by the Rodrigo Duterte administration.

Labor and human rights violations continued after the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission in January 2023. In recent months, for example, labor leaders were slapped with terrorist financing charges. In Cebu, a leader of national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May First Movement), Mr. Jaime Paglinawan, together with 26 NGO workers in the province, and Unyon ng mga Panadero sa Gardenia Bakeries Philippines, Inc.-OLALIA-KMU vice-president Mr. Rhoel Alconera were charged with such cases.

Meanwhile, William Lariosa, veteran Mindanao labor organizer of KMU, remains missing after he was abducted by military personnel on April 10. Witnesses claim that Lariosa underwent surveillance by the military before the abduction. Appeals from Lariosa’s family and colleagues in KMU have so far been ignored, with the military even doubling down on harassing and red-tagging Lariosa’s colleagues in the labor movement in Mindanao. The Commission on Human Rights expressed alarm over his disappearance, reiterating that arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of liberty is a grave violation of human rights as provided under Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act.

Before the end of April, the Marcos Jr government released its “Omnibus Guidelines on the Exercise of Freedom of Association and Civil Liberties” which virtually ignores the recommendation made by the ILO-HLTM and UN Special Rapporteurs to abolish the government’s red- and terror-tagging machinery, the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which is responsible for many labor and human rights violations.

CTUHR will issue a separate statement on the guidelines.###