On August 31, 2022, unions from Southern Tagalog trooped to the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon city to file complaints of threats, harassment and intimidation against the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Trade unionists from Nexperia Philippines Inc., Gardenia Bakeries Philippines Inc., Technol Eight Philippines Corp. and Ebara Pumps Philippines Inc. decry the continuous visits that their officers and members get from the NTF-ELCAC. They expressed grave concern about their security, as they can never forget the Bloody Sunday Massacre where some of the victims killed and arrested are labor leaders like them and the brutal murder of their staunch labor leader Dandy Miguel.
Since March 2021, elements of the NTF-ELCAC have been hounding trade unionists in Laguna in their homes and communities, subjecting them to harassment, intimidation and threats.
Mario Fernandez, President of Technol Eight Philippines Workers Union (TEPWU), has been living away from home since he was targeted by the NTF-ELCAC, as he fears for his and his family’s life and safety. The most recent incident happened last August 16, where a riding-in-tandem threw a plastic bag with money, sim card and a threatening note, saying “Kung mahal mo ang pamilya mo, tawagan mo kami sa sim card na ibinigay namin sa iyo…” (If you love your family, call us using the sim card that we gave you…). These attacks against Fernandez and his fellow union leaders are happening in the midst of pending negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“NTF-ELCAC has no business interfering with whatever union or federation workers choose. Their right to freely choose, form or join unions is a basic right covered by the ILO Convention 87, which the Philippines ratified. Threats or harassment of trade unionists in whatever form is illegal and a direct attack to their freedom of association,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said in a statement.
The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) called on the Department of Labor and Employment to urgently address these non-stop attacks against unionists. It also reiterated the urgency of accepting the ILO High-Level Mission to investigate these workers’ rights violations.
CTUHR also joined calls to defund the NTF-ELCAC, amidst intensifying attacks against trade unionists. “This agency does not deserve the Php10Billion budget that it has proposed for 2023. In fact, it does not deserve any cent from the taxes of the people, for it has done nothing but red-tag individuals and organizations who are only advancing their rights. Zero budget for NTF-ELCAC! Rechannel the budget to social services that the people direly need.”