Surface Lariosa! Minda Labor Organizer’s Abduction Reaches 1 Month

May 10, 2024

Today, May 10, is the first month of the abduction and enforced disappearance of veteran Mindanao labor organizer William Lariosa in Quezon, Bukidnon. We demand that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his government surface Lariosa now! Stop the abduction and enforced disappearance of labor activists! Stop the attacks on the labor movement!

Eyewitnesses say that 63-year old Lariosa was abducted at gunpoint by elements of the Philippine Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion. Lariosa’s family has called on the Commission on Human Rights and other government bodies to investigate his case and release him, but the labor organizer remains missing.

Lariosa’s abduction and disappearance were followed by uninvited visits by men introducing themselves as belonging to the military to the homes in Southern Mindanao of regional labor leaders Paul John Dizon, Carl Anthony Olalo (both of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno or KMU, May First Movement) and Melodina Gumanoy of the Nagkahiusang Kababaye ang Mamumuo sa  Davao de Oro or NKMDDO. The labor activists were told to surrender to the government or they will face certain consequences. What is there to surrender, when labor activists are only calling for higher wages to lift workers out of poverty?

The KMU is a legitimate national labor center with a handful of federations and progressive organizations as its members. The State has often accused it of being a terrorist organization and its members have been hounded by the military over accusations that are not supported by evidence.

A few days after Labor Day, in fact, posters that red-tagged the KMU were posted on walls in Davao City. Homes of staff members of labor NGO Nonoy Librado Development Foundation Inc. (NLDFI) were also visited by men introducing themselves as belonging to the military. Former NLDFI executive director Emma Ricaforte was interrogated by agents of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and shown a list of labor activists who will supposedly be sought out for a meeting.

Pres Marcos Jr in his various pronouncements always say that he upholds the rule of law, yet he has simply continued the policy of attacking the labor movement in the guise of fighting the armed insurgency. Lariosa’s abduction and enforced disappearance is a case in point.

The International Labour Organization’s High-Level Tripartite Mission to the Philippines in January 2023 and the various United Nation Special Rapporteurs criticized and recommended the dismantling of the NTF-ELCAC. Yet, Marcos Jr continues to allow the operation of the NTF-ELCAC.

In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling about red-tagging, Marcos Jr should instead hold officials of the NTF-ELCAC accountable. He should make strong and unequivocal statements and take decisive steps to protect labor and human rights in the country, including surfacing the forcibly disappeared and immediately stopping rights violations.###