We’ve done our part, it’s time to do your work, DOLE. Defend our unions!

We sincerely appreciate  the ILO statement asking the Department of Labor (DOLE) to investigate the trade union rights violations in PH. It was in the same spirit that we supported the Labour Rights Defenders (LaRD-Net) in a dialogue with Sec. Bello and Usec. Benavidez, September last year. Unionists decry the unwanted visits of elements of NTF ELCAC in their workplaces and homes to ask them and their family members to disaffiliate from their labor federations.

Unionists complain about being harassed by state forces. DOLE encouraged them to file complaints and report to their office. And when they did, they were hoping the Department will help them find remedy through investigations, bridging a dialogue or releasing a statement to respect workers’ freedom of association. But no, DOLE simply communicated with the alleged perpetrators (PNP and AFP) and referred the complaints. 

CTUHR and the concerned unionists learned about it when more state forces visited the complainants’ homes. Worst, is that this time, they were inviting them to the Camp or to a Zoom meeting to “clarify” 

“DOLE only added more damage to the situation and further endangered the unionists. Their addresses were exposed to the police and military. And they felt more harassed than before,” said CTUHR in a statement. 

May we also ask DOLE and Secretary Bello to stop having the presumption that labor leaders and the workers have done nothing to assert for justice. On the recent statement of Sec. Bello, he blurted that they have already investigating the growing number of harassment cases and other labor violations. It was followed by asking the labor leaders to report the violations and even filing criminal cases against red tagging. These cases wouldn’t even reach the tables of ILO if we haven’t exhausted every reasonable means and if DoLE have taken these cases with due diligence. 

May we also remind Sec. Bello that other than initiating investigation, DoLE should also have the accountability on being active part of the NTF-ELCAC. Most or almost all of the recent cases of harassment against our labor leaders were perpetrated by state forces representing NTF-ELCAC, the same task force led by Sec. Bello in  Cagayan Valley Region. This can’t be narrowed down into an Isolated case just to simply say it is “..being probed..” when the attacks were glaringly orchestrated by NTF-ELCAC to systematically suppress worker’s rights and their freedom of association.

We are aware and understand that DoLE doesn’t have any mandate toprosecute anyone but if they can conduct investigation and inspection against firms with alleged labor violations, then how come DOLE is becoming a Receive-and-Transfer Department when it comes to state forces who perpetrated labor violations? 

If DOLE or Sec. Bello can release a position that NTF ELCAC,’s discouragement of union affiliation is in fact anti-union or state interference to workers activities, it would be more helpful to workers and unionists than his recommendations to  file complaint or criminal case against those they are complaining against.  If Secretary Bello is sincere enough with his commitment to upholding worker’s rights, he will urge his own department to investigate and come up with its own result of the investigation if there is indeed a labor rights violation. If DOLE is really serious about serving justice for workers other than being a Receive-and-Transfer Department, then the department should have a strong resolve to stop the growing number of labor and human rights violations perpetrated by State forces themselves against workers and their organizations.#