Today, International Working Women’s Day, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), an NGO working to empower Filipino workers in the formal and informal sectors of the economy, calls for upholding the labor and human rights of all working and poor women.

Women despite its contribution to society remain invisible particularly in the labor and human rights field. CTUHR pays tribute to especially the working and poor women of the Philippines and the world who continue  struggle for their labor and human rights to make their rights recognized not only in  language but also in laws and practice.

We echo the calls of Filipino working and poor women  in this year’s International Working Women’s Day for a nationwide legislated significant minimum wage hike to curb prime commodity prices and a stop to the divisive Ferdinand Marcos Jr government’s scheme to change the 1987 Constitution.

A legislated significant increase in the minimum wage of workers in the private sector is a step forward towards the rights of women workers and all workers to a living wage, to just and favorable conditions of work, and other related labor and human rights and right to survive amidst increasing goods’ prices.

Marcos Jr’s Charter Change or Cha-cha scheme, with its thrust of further opening the country to foreign investors, endangers the robust labor and human rights provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Women workers in foreign invested companies who are laboring hard for years are still impoverished, some even contracted cancer and other diseases but cannot afford medication.

CTUHR also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in the country particularly women labor rights defenders. Unionism and labor activism are essential to the democracy and detaining them bode ill to the democracy we like to uphold.

We call for the immediate freedom and dismissal of all charges against the following women labor rights defenders:

Rowena Rosales (Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees, arrested Aug. 11, 2018), Antonietta Setias-Dizon (COURAGE, Sept. 17, 2018), Imelda Sultan (National Federation of Sugar Workers, Oct. 31, 2019), Linda Perocho (NFSW, Oct. 31, 2019), Romina Astudillo (Kilusang Mayo Uno, Dec. 10, 2020), and Teresa Dioquino (KMU, June 2, 2021).

CTUHR also calls for the surfacing of Elisabeth “Loi” Magbanua, a labor organizer of KMU, who disappeared on May 3, 2022 — as well as Ma. Elena “Cha” Pampoza and Elgene “Leleng” Mungcal, activists of the peasant and women sectors, respectively, who disappeared in July 2022.

We blame the government’s counter-insurgency program and anti-terrorism legislation for the imprisonment and disappearance of these women labor activists. The Philippine government must stop its ultra-militaristic approach to the ongoing armed conflict, resume and sit down in peace talks, and address the root causes of the armed insurgency. It must always find the best way to uphold the labor and human rights of working and poor women and all Filipinos.###