On June 14, 2022, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) formally filed a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights, a week after it publicly denounced the malicious statements made by elements of the NTF-ELCAC against their institution.
In its complaint, CTUHR narrated that they received a report that they have been red-tagged in the program, “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” aired last June 6, 2022. One of the topics discussed in the said episode was “Labor Infiltration Operations of CPP-NDF-NPA in CALABARZON, Central Luzon and NCR,” where they zoomed in on the strike conducted by J&T Express workers in Cabuyao, Laguna.
The guest Charlie “Steve Alejandro” Ponclara and one of the hosts Jeffrey “Eric” Celiz, in a series of exchanges, purported that the strike of the workers was illegal and that they were infiltrated and instigated by operatives of the CPP-NPA-NDF. CTUHR was tagged as one of these, together with Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU).
CTUHR decried the red-tagging and spreading of fabricated narratives against its institution which has been advocating for workers and trade union rights for nearly (four) 4 decades. “We will not let this kind of attack pass. We are a government-registered non-government organization. We owe it not only to the pioneers of the organization, but more importantly to the workers and trade unions we have always vowed to serve,” CTUHR said in a statement.
CTUHR expressed that they are highly alarmed by this threat, as the human rights situation in the country continues to deteriorate and lives of human rights defenders are put at risk. “Through our work, we have seen how red-tagging endangers the lives of persons, organizations and their families. We have documented, monitored arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings of trade unionists and labor organizers who have been red-tagged,” CTUHR added.
To date, CTUHR has documented 56 labor rights defenders who have been extrajudicially killed under the Duterte administration and not one was brought to justice. Elements of the NTF-ELCAC continues to hound unionists in their homes and workplaces, red-tag, harass them and force them to disaffiliate from their unions and/or federations.
The said segment in the program Laban Kasama ang Bayan, went on for more than an hour. They further attacked and maligned other labor groups, not only KMU which they have consistently attacked. They further vilified unions saying that they cause closure of companies and loss of jobs, undermining the importance of trade unions and worker organizations in advancing decent work for all and their inherent right to do so.
The Center averred that this kind of vilification and terrorist tagging is one of the many barriers, hindering trade unions to flourish in the country. In fact, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), as of 2018, only 6.3% in enterprises with 20 workers or more, are unionized.
“Tagging unionists and labor rights defenders as terrorists and saying that they conduct strikes just because they want to destabilize the government is insulting and a direct attack against workers’ freedom of association. How could workers form or join unions to advance their basic rights when the government mandated to protect these rights, spreads this kind of black propaganda and tags them as terrorists? Indeed, the Duterte government has become the biggest union-buster in the country!”
CTUHR reminded the NTF-ELCAC that the Philippines is a signatory of 38 international conventions including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO Conventions 87 and 98 that guarantee freedom to organize and collectively bargain.
Stop the Attacks!
Stop Red-tagging Labor Rights Defenders!
Unionism is a Right!
Defund and Abolish NTF-ELCAC!