Philippine labor groups, employers to discuss workers’ rights with ILO

LABOR groups and other activist organizations hold a protest rally in Manila on Nov. 30, Bonifacio Day. — REUTERS

PHILIPPINE labor groups and employers are set to meet with a team from the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Manila this week to discuss cases of harassment and violence against trade unions.

In a statement last week, the Leaders Forum said it would push the rule of law and justice at the three-day meeting that will start on Jan. 23.

“Respect for labor rights as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution, national labor laws and ILO conventions is indispensable for investments and economic growth,” it said.

ILO Bureau of Worker’s Activities Director Maria Helena André has said the Philippine government should uphold the law since rights violations would deter investments and economic activity.

The ILO high-level tripartite mission to the Philippines will look into the killings of trade unionists and other violations of workers’ rights.

The Leaders Forum includes the  Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the Federation of Free Workers.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla has said the state does not sanction attacks, harassment or intimidation of activists and unionists.

He said an inter-agency task force on extralegal killings had investigated at least 17,000 police officers.

The Philippines has accepted 200 recommendations from member-states of the United Nations Human Rights Council, including investigating extralegal killings and protecting journalists and activists.

The UN Human Rights Committee has said the Philippines should comply with international human rights mechanisms.

Human rights abuses continued in the first six months of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s rule, Human Rights Watch said this month.

The Philippine Commission on Human Rights has said the government of ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte had encouraged a culture of impunity by hindering independent inquiries and failing to prosecute erring cops involved in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

Meanwhile, Jose “Sonny” G. Matula, a labor lawyer and president of the Federation of Free Workers, said government agents did not do enough to ensure the prosecution of 17 police officers in the murder of an activist.

This was after government prosecutors dismissed the murder complaint for lack of evidence.

“We are disappointed with the dismissal,” he said in a Viber message. “It appears that the authorities did not help the private complainant in gathering enough evidence.”

Mr. Matula said labor groups would bring up the murder of nine activists during a series of police raids in March 2021 with the ILO. — John Victor D. Ordoñez