Tag Archives: CTUHR

[Statement] Anti-Terror Bill to Worsen Plight of Workers, Labor Rights Group Says -CTUHR

Anti-Terror Bill to Worsen Plight of Workers, Labor Rights Group Says

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights joins the various organizations and individuals in strongly opposing the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) of 2020 and the efforts of the Duterte government and his cohorts in Congress to railroad this anti-democratic bill amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the deep economic crisis that the country is experiencing. The Center believes that this proposed law is intended to be used as a weapon against activists and critics, and not just real terrorists.

“What kind of government do we have? Did they really think that the people have lost their sense of critical thinking because of hunger and will simply bow down to this kind of law? We cannot fathom how they can stomach giving priority to railroading this kind of Bill instead of focusing on significant measures to combat COVID-19, such as free mass testing,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said.

CTUHR believes that the Bill will result in more human rights violations instead of addressing the primary concerns of the people – healthcare, employment, food, transportation. “People are dying, losing their jobs, and are going hungry. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently estimates that 3.2 million workers will lose their jobs because of the pandemic. And yet, you have these legislators who have the audacity to pass a law, because the President signed it as urgent,” Arago added.

The ATB, if passed into law, will repeal Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007. CTUHR also strongly opposed this law and called for its repeal, as it caused a drastic increase in the number of extrajudicial killings, abductions, and other human rights violations.

The House of Representatives passed the Anti-Terror Bill on its Third and Final Reading on June 3, despite the strong opposition of the people against it. A day after it was passed in the First Reading, Carlito “Karletz” Badion, Secretary-General of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) was murdered in Samar. On the day that it was passed in the Second Reading, 6 jeepney drivers and members of PISTON were arrested, as they held a peaceful protest to demand that they be allowed to resume their livelihood. These people did nothing but dissent the injustices that prevail and yet they were treated like criminals, or worse, terrorists, even without the ATB. CTUHR fears that more dissenters like them will be penalized when this proposed law is enacted.

The ATB expands the already vague definition of terrorism; forms an Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) composed of cabinet officials with the power to order warrantless arrests; allows detention of suspects up to 24 days without a formal case; permits surveillance up to 90 days and intrudes privacy by allowing access to private communications, bank records and other personal information. It also criminalizes “inciting to terrorism” which may be abused against the people’s right to freedom of expression.

“The COVID-19 virus that disrupted our normal lives cannot be defeated by this Anti-Terror Bill. The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) coupled with the government’s incompetence have derailed the livelihood of millions of Filipinos and the economy itself. For the past 3 months, the people have relentlessly called for the urgent needs of the people amid this pandemic – free mass testing, protection of jobs and livelihood, safe workplaces and access to transportation, assistance for displaced and most vulnerable and respect for workers’ human rights. The government should focus its efforts on these aspects instead of wasting the people’s taxes on legislations that will do more harm than good.

CTUHR also expressed concern on how the ATB could be used against unionists and labor rights defenders. With the vague and broad definition of terrorism and the absolute power it gives the state forces that often figured in labor rights violations, this bill can be used against the labor movement. Organizing is already difficult now. ATB will surely make it more difficult, as workers expressing dissent even through social media can easily be tagged as terrorist activity and be penalized.

Throughout history, unionists and labor rights defenders have been perpetrated by the filing of trumped-up charges against them, red-tagging and other forms of harassment. CTUHR believes that the ATB if passed into law, will worsen the struggles of workers in pushing for their rights and demands. In fact, just a day after Congress passed the bill, streamers red-tagging the Solidarity for Workers Network in Central Luzon have been seen hanging in some streets of Bulacan and Bataan.

“The workers and the people should strengthen our solidarity in opposing this measure that is meant to curtail our rights. They have locked us down for 3 months, let us not let them lockdown our rights,” CTUHR ended.

CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department

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MEDIA STATEMENT
04 June 2020
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0961 507 1418 / 7718 00 26

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[Statement] Free the Piston 6, allow jeepney drivers to resume their livelihood -CTUHR

Free the Piston 6, allow jeepney drivers to resume their livelihood

While public discussion on Anti-Terrorism Bill is raging, six (6) jeepney drivers and members of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) were arrested and detained on June 2 at Caloocan City Jail when 30 of them, wearing face masks and observing social distancing staged a “Busina Para Sa Balik Pasada“ protest in Monumento, Caloocan City. The jeepney drivers were calling on the government to allow them to travel and transport especially the workers returning to work who have been deprived of their income and livelihood as a result of almost three months of lockdown.

Detained are Severino Ramos, Elmer Cordero, Arsenio Ymas Jr., Wilson Ramilla, Ramon Paloma, and PISTON Deputy Secretary-General Ruben Baylon. Cordero, who is 72 years old and looks very frail, was not spared from arrest and detention. According to his wife, Elvira Cordero who was interviewed by CTUHR, ‘Tatay’ Elmer, was only given a chance to ply the route, once a week, so life was already difficult, even before the lockdown. They have not received any assistance.

The six were charged with violating Caloocan Local Ordinance #0863 or Violation of Social Distancing. The offense is punishable only by a reprimand and they should have been released yesterday morning. But the drivers were called by Northern Police District station for a dialogue with the Chief only to be slapped with charges of “disobedience” later. Regardless of appeals of various groups and individuals, including a city Councilor, the police remained firm on their continuous detention. As of this writing (June 4) the fiscal has not issued a resolution on the case and they remained in detention.

It is appalling that every night, they are transferred to a cramped cell together with other offenders with no physical distancing at all. Not only their detention is absurd and inhumane, but they are exposed to the possibility of contracting COVID 19, as an employee of the city hall was tested positive of the disease.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) strongly condemns the arrest and detention of PISTON 6 and calls for their immediate release. “To protest because the drivers are hungry and wanting to work, instead of depending on government assistance that never came, is not only legitimate. It is humane and logical. To arrest and detain them, is inhumane, height of insensitivity and a form of institutional violence”, said CTUHR in a statement. The Center also slammed the slow processing of their release which increases their risk of being exposed to COVID-19.


CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department

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[From the web] Philippines: Arrests and detention Marred International Labor Day 2020 -CTUHR

Philippines: Arrests and detention Marred International Labor Day 2020

Seventy-six (76) were arrested and detained yesterday in separate incidents, — the biggest number of arrests in the recent history of Labor Day celebrations in the Philippines.

Ten (10) volunteers of CURE COVID, a citizens’ alliance that included workers who were running a Community Kitchen and distributing food packs in their communities were arrested and detained in Marikina City. If not for the intervention of the good Mayor Marcy Teodoro, and as there was no crime committed, they were later released.

In Quezon City, eighteen (18) persons, including 4 volunteers of Tulong Kabataan simply echoing the call for livelihood, rights and health written on placards, as they were conducting relief operations were also arrested in Brgy. Central, Quezon City and detained at Camp Karingal. They were later charged of illegal assembly and violations of the lockdown rules even if they observed social distancing protocols.

Meanwhile, four (4) individuals, including Kilos Na Homeless leader Fidel Columna and 3 members of Liga ng mga Manggagawasa Valenzuela City, were arrested in Valenzuela City. They participated in an online protest and later on arrested as their pictures were seen on social media. Two (2) members of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) from Montalban, Rizal suffered the same fate.

In Jaro, Ilo-Ilo City, forty-two (42) were also arrested including a priest, Fr. Marco Sulayao when they conducted a caravan (while observing physical distancing), in grievance and protest of the brutal killing of Jory Porquia, an activist and member of Bayan Muna and a lawyer who offered his services.

While 16 workers of Coca-Cola in Laguna were falsely presented as NPA rebels who surrendered and used as black propaganda against the workers’ organizations.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) condemns these arrests and detention and calls for their immediate and unconditional release. “To feed the hungry and to protest and criticize the government for its ineptness, especially during Labor Day is an exercise of the right to freedom of expression,” says CTUHR Executive Director, Daisy Arago.

“These arrests only unmasks this government further, that in the midst of a public health emergency and social aid chaos, all it can do is arrest, detain and threaten people who are in fact, filling in the inadequacies caused by its incompetence. Workers’ welfare and people’s health should be at the forefront of this battle against COVID19 not attack on activists and critics,” Arago added.

On May 1, 2020, amidst the pandemic and a militarized lockdown, workers successfully claimed the International Workers’ Day as a Day of voicing out their legitimate demands for mass testing, sufficient food supply, and government assistance, guaranteed income and livelihood and respect for human rights. Different labor groups and other human rights organizations used creative ways such as online protests, selfie protest, noise barrage, community kitchen, etc. while ensuring that they are abiding by precautionary measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19. “Instead of recognizing its deficiencies and listening to the demands of the people, the Duterte government chooses the easy way out – threaten to silence dissenters. If only the government has heeded the call to increase the wage of workers to P750 nationwide, eradicated contractualization and ensured freedom of association in the workplace, then the workers would have been better prepared for this crisis,” CTUHR ended.#


CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department

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[From the web] Workers Demand for Guaranteed Income, Protection, Respect for Rights Before Returning to Work -CTUHR

Workers Demand for Guaranteed Income, Protection, Respect for Rights Before Returning to Work

“This year’s International Labor Day celebration is historically different, there will be no huge demonstrations on the streets in the Philippines and in other countries as well, due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the calls for a living wage, job security amidst lay-off, humane conditions of work, safe workplaces, right to organize and collectively bargain that send thousands of workers to flood the streets annually are even more glaring now than ever. The pandemic deepens the problems that workers have to face even before the public health crisis and they have no one to lean on but their solidarity and strength. The system has failed them and continues to fail them, said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

The workers are hit hardest with the suspension of most economic activities, while others in essential services or even in business process outsourcing suffer from difficulties in transportation, inhumane work hours, and unsafe temporary accommodations. The government’s sluggish and inefficient response and assistance even to the most affected only worsened the anxiety that engulfed them. A recent study of the International Labour Organization (ILO), estimated that around 1.25 billion workers are at risk of losing their jobs due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. The ILO also calls the current situation “the most severe crisis since the Second World War.”

Before the pandemic, millions of Filipino workers are beset with unemployment and underemployment. The government continues exporting Filipino workers abroad to ease unemployment and earn from them. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of unemployed increased ten-folds but the Department of Labor and Employment estimated only an additional 2 million. Yet, government assistance only reached less than 30% of those affected. OFWs suffer from job losses overseas and are coming home and also demanding the P10,000 assistance that they have not received.

Before the crises, workers were barely surviving from low income. The minimum wage remains insufficient for the basic needs of a family. (NCR), the highest at P537 while Region 1 at P282 is the lowest, and many of them are not members of SSS – the agency appointed by the Duterte government to give wage subsidy to workers allegedly in support of SMEs. The lockdown deprives them of this meager income and made them dependent to government assistance that in many places never come. When they find the means to eat, many were arrested and called them `pasaway’, (hard-headed).

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reports say that it has documented and apprehended more than 150,000 violators of enhanced community quarantine measures. This includes informal workers who are simply trying to earn a living like Michael Rubuia, the fish vendor whose brutal arrest (because he was not wearing a face mask) was caught on video and went viral on social media. In another incident, on April 5, 19 vegetable vendors were arrested for illegal selling.

Contractualization schemes that are rampant and take away the benefits of workers from job security, social protection, and unions or organizations can be exploited in the pretense of COVID 19 response as more employers resort to that under a `new normal’ situation. Similarly, unions and those striving to unionize are attacked by both the company management and state forces under the pretext of a crisis response that can resort to more abusive practices. On top of 48 killings in the ranks of unionists, farmworkers, and labor rights defenders that CTUHR has documented.

On this day and days ahead, we join the workers in calling the Duterte regime not to use the current crisis to heighten attacks against activists and critiques. A day before May 1, a known activist in Iloilo City, Jory Parquia was murdered in his house. A union of Coca-Cola in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and several workers were forced to surrender as NPA rebels.

We reiterate our calls and echoes the demand of the people, #AksyongMedikalHindiMlitar. We demand an urgent realignment of government funds to health, to strengthen hospitals, and to conduct mass testing to curb the spread of the disease. We call on all on government and employers to test all workers before resuming work operations, hazard pay, and give the necessary protection against COVID-19. Lastly, we demand that labor and human rights be respected at all times and not be abused in the pretense of crisis management.#

CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department

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[Statement] Priest Inspiring Workers to Access DOLE’s CAMP, Intimidated by Police Forces -CTUHR

Priest Inspiring Workers to Access DOLE’s CAMP, Intimidated by Police Forces

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9 )

“Fr. Gerry Jorge is simply living out Jesus’ mission in helping the needy. He should be commended, not intimidated by police forces. When the poor workers are in limbo about the government’s assistance program, then it is his responsibility as a parish priest to create the way for them. What is wrong with that?” says Daisy Arago, Executive Director of Center of Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR).

This is CTUHR’s reaction when they heard the news about the Mariveles local police intimidating Rev. Fr. Gerry Jorge of San Nicholas de Tolentino Parish in Bataan in connection with the workers’ mass filing for DOLE’s COVID-19 Assistance Measure Program (CAMP) last April 24,2020.

On April 27, 2020, Fr. Gerry Jorge was informed that the Mariveles PNP Chief was looking for him for allegedly “agitating” the workers through social media regarding their application for the P5,000 financial assistance of the Labor Department.

The Mariveles Ecumenical Workers Desk (MWED) – a parish-based program under the Social Action Committee, launched a petition thru Facebook on April 24, calling on workers who haven’t received the assistance from the DOLE to file en masse. Support for mass filing poured in and the desk was able to assist 632 individuals in filing their applications. MWED is currently assisting the processing of 10,000 more CAMP applications.

CTUHR is seriously alarmed by the police’s reaction. A population without income, livelihood, and hungry do not need agitation to cry out loud. “We condemn this act of local police as it imposes a threat, not only to the priest but to anyone who uses social media to air their grievances and criticisms to the government. Much more, in this difficult time with the pandemic, the intimidation is uncalled for as it adds to the burden of the most affected,” added Arago.

CTUHR knows Fr. Gerry who has a big heart for the workers and thanks to his initiative in setting up Mariveles Ecumenical Workers Desk to help workers, particularly to claim the aid that the government has promised. This, for CTUHR, is simply an act of compassion. Using social media, Father Gerry was able to foster unity among the workers to fight for their rights and welfare.

When the Pandemic COVID-19 hit the country, Fr. Gerry was relentlessly working on finding ways on how he can help the workers. Through the MWED, he was able to hear the grievances of the workers of the Freeport Area Bay (FAB) – an industrial enclave in Bataan comprising different companies for exports that employ 44,000 workers. Most of the companies operating in the FAB are in the garments and electronics sectors. The workers reported that they haven’t received the government’s promised assistance, as many of the companies have not applied for DOLE’s CAMP for unknown reasons.

More than a month into the ECQ, thousands of workers still have not received any assistance. CTUHR pointed out that the government’s incompetence and its militarist approach in handling the public health crisis deepen the burden of the poor. It added that the government should remove its bureaucratic processes that further delay the aid to the people. “As ECQ is extended, more people will go hungry and find means to survive. Threatening, arresting, detaining or killing them will do no good, but will only heighten the problem,” CTUHR ended.

MEDIA STATEMENT
28 April 2020
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0961 507 1418 / 7718 00 26

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[Press Release] DOLE’S Closure of Assistance Program, Unjust, Irresponsible and Pointless -CTUHR

DOLE’S Closure of Assistance Program, Unjust, Irresponsible and Pointless

On April 15, 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced that its COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP) is now closed for new applications. OIC Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said that this is to give way to the transition to the wage subsidy for a small business program of the Department of Finance.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is strongly dismayed with this announcement. Since the lockdown was implemented, lots of families suffered from hunger as the promised assistance in the form of relief goods and cash aid comes slow or does not come at all. Displaced workers have been relying on DOLE’s P5,000 assistance for their families’ sustenance for the duration of the quarantine but have encountered numerous problems such as their employer’s non-compliance with the requirements, refusal of the company to apply, DOLE’s hotline that is not working, DOLE’s rejection of the company’s application and the slow and long process of the application with many workers not receiving anything even after a month of its implementation.

“This government is adding more harm than good to the workers and the poor, with their inconsistent and overly bureaucratic processes of giving the urgently needed aid. Why is the CAMP application being closed down when many workers are still in dire need of support? Why is the responsibility being transferred to the DOF who knows nothing about the workers’ situation? Instead of simply giving the promised assistance, this government is wasting precious time on its bureaucratic measures than providing urgently needed aid.” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

The Labor Department estimates that around 1.6 million workers are affected by the lockdown due to COVID-19. It also reported that the CAMP has provided Php1.2 billion aid to 236,412 workers and is in the process of distributing aid to 85,563 more workers in the coming days. “We cannot fathom how they can afford to stop the assistance program when it has given aid to barely 15% of their conservative estimation. Providing assistance to displaced workers is under the mandate of DOLE. Transferring it to another department is simply unjust, irresponsible and pointless. Give the Php51 billion wage subsidy to DOLE and expedite the process of distributing the aid,” Arago added.

Arago also noted that the data of the Labor Department is conservative. According to the think-tank Ibon Foundation, the number of workers who may be affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine, both from the formal and informal sectors is at 11 million. This is based on the 2018 labor survey force.

CAMP is one of the promised financial assistance programs of the Duterte Administration amid this COVID-19 pandemic through DOLE. Without economic activity, it is difficult for the workers to fend for their families’ needs. Thus, the P5,000 assistance from DOLE, insufficient as it may be, is a big help to meet the basic necessities of their families.

CTUHR also noted its continuous appeal to big companies to pay their workers despite work stoppage because of the enhanced community quarantine.

https://bit.ly/2XGifjp


CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department
MEDIA STATEMENT
17 April 2020
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0999 195 3195 / 7718 00 26

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[Statement] Labor Rights NGO Forwards More Complaints and Concerns about the DOLE CAMP Assistance -CTUHR

Labor Rights NGO Forwards More Complaints and Concerns about the DOLE CAMP Assistance

As the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) marked its 1st month, 66 more companies were reported to have not still provided their employees with the P5,000 promised assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). This was the results of the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) COVID-19 Workers’ Rights Watch” online survey on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and ECQ to workers that started last April 1. The partial results were forwarded to DOLE for their immediate action.

“It has been a month since the lockdown was imposed and many workers are still complaining about not receiving the promised assistance from the government to No work-No Pay workers. The P5,000 financial assistance is insufficient to sustain an average workers’ family but it makes a big difference in their struggle if they will receive it immediately. Workers also await for additional assistance as the quarantine has been extended for another 2 weeks,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

The survey also covers other workers’ rights violations such as illegal termination, unsafe working conditions, forcing them to work (despite lack of transportation services provided), non-provision of PPE and others.

CTUHR also appealed to DOLE to issue clear guidelines that will strongly compel the responsibility of big corporations (those with more than 1,000 employees) to continuously pay the salaries of their workers in the duration of the lockdown. DOLE’s Department Order 209 or the Guidelines on the Adjustment Measures Program for Affected Workers due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 prioritizes Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and only mentions that it encourages large companies to pay the full wages of their workers for the duration of the ECQ. It does not require them to do so. Workers and unions of big companies have been campaigning for paid quarantine amid the threats of COVID-19 and the lack of transport services, hazard pay and proper Personal Protective Equipment for those required to continue rendering their services.

DOLE issued an appeal anew to large companies to continue paying the salaries of their workers and employees despite them being unable to work due to the extension of ECQ. CTUHR welcomes this appeal and appreciates the companies who responded positively and echoes the call to Multi-National Companies (MNCs) to follow suit.

“These companies have been earning millions of profits for many years, from the blood and sweat of their workers. It wouldn’t cost them much if they will help their workers cope with this crisis. The Labor Department should oblige them to do so,” Arago noted.

DOLE also reported that the number of displaced workers in the formal sector according to their regional offices is now at 1,048,649.

“The current budget of the Labor Department to aid displaced workers is insufficient to assist more than a million displaced workers. Small local businesses must also be supported to withstand this crisis. More budget should be allotted to provide aid for those whose jobs and livelihood are affected by this crisis,” Arago ended.

MEDIA STATEMENT
15 April 2020

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 8718 00 26

CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department
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[Statement] #FreeSanRoque21 -CTUHR

“We are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the #SanRoque21. Their grievance for food and aid is legitimate, just and should be immediately addressed. The Duterte administration should see the spontaneous protest for what it really is, not an attempt to destabilize or defy the government or a simple show of Filipinos’ ‘katigasan ng ulo. It is a desperate call for help, an expression of their growing hunger and a courageous act of demanding for what is due them,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

On April 1, 2020, around 200 residents of the vast urban poor community in North Triangle, Quezon City collectively violated the community quarantine and took their demands for food and assistance along EDSA. Residents complained that they haven’t received any assistance since the lockdown was implemented last March 15. Elements of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) were quick to respond and arrested 21 of them, whom they considered as troublemakers.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) condemns the violent dispersal, arrest and continued detention of 21 urban poor residents and says that now is the best time for the government to show understanding and compassion.

Arago further avers that the protest bares the incompetence and the lack of plans by the government on how the poor, who are the most affected with the implementation of an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) against COVID-19 can be provided immediate and sufficient assistance so they don’t risk going out to find a living.

“Again, we appeal to the Quezon City government and the national government for compassion instead of detention for the poor. Release the SanRoque21! It is the best gesture to have cooperation in our unified battle against COVID-19. What the people need right now, in this time of crisis, is a government with a heart,” Arago added.

As of writing, the 21 urban poor residents are still detained at Camp Karingal and early intervention of the government for their release is imperative. The QCPD says it is determined to press charges for violation of RA 11469 (Bayanihan To Heal as One Act) and Resistance and Disobedience to a Person in Authority. Meanwhile, reports today reveal that the residents of Sitio San Roque finally received food packs from authorities.

It has been three weeks since Duterte placed Luzon and other parts of the country under ECQ yet other areas have not received any food aid. Emergency powers were swiftly granted to Pres. Duterte by Congress, through the “Bayanihan To Heal as One Act” giving him complete access to P275 billion. A National Action Plan was launched, headed by present and ex-military generals, instead of public health experts. It is the civil society and compassionate individuals and organizations that are filling in to address the needs of the vulnerable sectors and frontliners through various fundraising and donation drives.

Three weeks into ECQ and the people have yet to see concrete plans and a sense of urgency from the government, as the number of deaths and infected continue to spike. Aside from the dangers and fear posed by the pandemic, people continue to suffer from hunger and desperation. Some local government units and government agencies have distributed cash assistance and food packs but they barely suffice to the needs of millions of workers who lost their source of living.

“This is a health crisis. A militaristic approach, with arbitrary arrests and threats, will not solve the current crisis. The reality is that people are more afraid of dying from hunger than dying from the disease. Duterte’s threats to ‘shoot them dead’ only aggravates their suffering.” Arago ended.

2 April 2020
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 7718 00 26

#FreeSanRoque21
#StandWithThePoor

#BigasHindiRehas

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[Statement] Mandatory hazard pay for workers exempted from the community quarantine, urged -CTUHR

Almost 2 weeks have passed since President Duterte placed Luzon under an Enhanced Community Quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, causing work stoppage and suspension of mass transportation.

Amid the current crisis, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) expresses great concern for our health workers and frontliners who continue to face the risk of being exposed to this deadly disease.

“We salute and give our highest recognition to all frontline and health workers who continue to risk their lives in taking care of patients. We also recognize workers in manufacturing companies, supermarkets, pharmacy, delivery services, security guards, janitors and all workers who continue to provide services despite the threat to health we currently face. They and their families deserve all the assistance and support they need,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

Aside from these kinds of workers, Dutere also exempted from the quarantine workers in export-oriented industries and employees in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

“Exempting BPO employees and economic zone workers only shows how this government puts prime importance to the profit of big, foreign capitalists over the safety of its people. Most of these companies do not provide essential goods but they are allowed to continue to operate despite the threat to the health of its workers. Some of these workers are even forced to stay at work to avoid getting late or avoid walking long distances. Until now, DOLE has yet to provide clear guidelines to companies that will ensure the health, safety and job security of these workers,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

CTUHR has been receiving reports of workers being forced to report to work, ‘No Work, No Pay’ workers facing the threat of losing their jobs and unsafe working conditions of those who opted to stay at their workplaces.

CTUHR says that the lack of clear guidelines for workers who are exempted from the community quarantine adds up to the vulnerabilities of these workers. Arago asserts that the government must ensure the protection of health and safety and the rights of these workers.

President Duterte has recently authorized the grant of hazard pay to government workers who are still reporting to work amid the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine thru Administrative Order 26. The COVID-19 Hazard Pay amounts to P500 per day. CTUHR welcomes this development, a clear product of tireless clamor of public sector employees.

CTUHR stands that all workers including ecozone workers and BPO employees who are continuously providing their labor or services despite the threat of contracting COVID-19 should be entitled to hazard pay. “Continuous provision of transport, temporary decent accommodations and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have to be ensured as well as the hazard pay as consolation for their hard work and sacrifice. The danger they face every day just to maintain business as usual, especially foreign businesses. They deserve to have additional take-home pay for their families.”

Furthermore, CTUHR maintains that workers who are affected by the work stoppage should be provided sufficient and immediate assistance.

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 8718 0026

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[Statement] ON THE COVID-19 CRISIS:Workers’ Rights NGO Appeals for the Suspension of the “No Work, No Pay” Policy And Bills Payment For Displaced Workers -CTUHR

On March 16, President Duterte announced the implementation of an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or Total Lockdown in Luzon to contain the spread of COVID-19, few days after it declared the community quarantine in Metro Manila.

The lockdown includes the suspension of all public transportation, the heightened presence of military personnel, regulated food and essential health services, and suspension of work (with exemptions). This militarist solution of the Duterte government exposed the lack of a comprehensive response that will ensure that no one is left behind. Its major lapses and inconsistencies resulted to further difficulties.

Those who have the means went into panic buying and hoarding of essential goods. A large number of people went into exodus to provinces, crowding terminals and public transport, increasing the risk of spreading the disease. Poor families can simply panic and thread between fears of passing through checkpoints, continuing work to feed their families and being exposed to the spreading disease.

“This health crisis deepens the economic divide in our society. It has the hardest impact on hand-to-mouth wage workers especially those under the “no work, no pay” scheme and the informal workers whose daily meager income is their only source of survival,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

In the 2 days of the implementation of the ECQ, CTUHR has been receiving reports of workers being stranded; BPO employees are still being forced to report to work, or stay at work to avoid getting stranded; export industry workers required to work and displaced workers worried sick about how to feed their families. Health workers and front-liners had difficulties of going to work, even having to walk for long hours because public transport was suspended.

“We appreciate the government’s intention to stop the and spread of the disease, but we are greatly disappointed by the lack of reality understanding and sensitivity of the measures being undertaken. Threatening to arrest and detain those who could not immediately comply is uncalled for. It adds to the mental stress and anxiety that these workers have endured,” Arago averred.

Arago observed that there is a lack of clear guidelines and plans as to how workers and front-liners who are exempted from the quarantine will go about their daily commute to their jobs or how are those displaced will have access to government support, except that responsibilities are handed over to local government units. Arago also lamented the low budget allocated for financial assistance for affected workers. The Duterte government was reported to have released a Php27.1 billion package for Covid-19 response, but only Php1.3 billion is allotted to assist the displaced workers compared to a whopping Php14 billion allotted for tourism programs and projects.

On March 17, 2020, DOLE released the Department Order 209 or the Guidelines on the Adjustment Measures Program for Affected Workers Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019. It includes the much-awaited financial assistance for affected workers. The Order says that affected workers of micro and small businesses will be provided Php5,000 one-time financial assistance in lump sum, non-conditional, regardless of employment status. Meanwhile, large businesses are only urged to cover the full wages of their affected workers in the duration of the 1-month total lockdown in Luzon.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) welcomes this development, but continues to assert that the government should mandate the suspension of the ‘No Work, No Pay’ Policy of companies. It should also oblige large companies to pay the workers their wage for the quarantine period. CTUHR also calls for the strict implementation of a “No Retrenchment Policy” to protect the workers’ job security. DOLE must also ensure that workers who are exempted from the quarantine receive proper protective equipment and are provided hazard pay by their employers. Free testing for COVID-19 must also be made available for workers and communities

The Center also appeals to companies providing basic services such as water, electricity, and the internet to suspend the payment of bills, at least during the 30-day lockdown period, as a humanitarian act, especially to informal workers, daily wage-earners and everyone disadvantaged by this crisis.

As of March 18, 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country is 187 and there have been 14 deaths, making the Philippines the country with the highest COVID-19 fatality rate at 8%. As minute update on television and radio is announced and known personalities get tested for infection, the poor majority cannot help but wonder, in testing for COVID-19, a reflection of class as well?

The Center calls on all Filipino workers to remain vigilant, be accurately informed and assert for their rights, amidst this confusing and trying times. “Protect your health and your rights!” the Center ended.###

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 871 800 26
CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department
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[Press Release] Honda Cars Phils. Sudden Closure, Unjust and Illegal; Immediate Dialogue Urged -CTUHR

“The sudden closure of Honda Cars Phils. Inc. (HCPI), without informing its workers is irresponsible, unjust and illegal. The management and the workers thru their union are bound by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and yet everyone was caught by surprise. It is the workers’ right to be informed of such drastic actions, especially as it costs them their jobs which their families have been depending on for years,” said Daisy Arago, Executive Director of CTUHR.

On February 22, a supposed normal workday for the Honda Cars Phils. manufacturing workers, became a nightmare when they were called for a general meeting wherein HCPI’s President and General Manager Noriyuki Takakura appeared on a video message announcing that Honda will cease operations in the Philippines. Before the workers could absorb the devastating news, HCPI immediately stopped its operations and other workers were refused entry to the plant’s premises. Around 70 guards were reported to be watching the plant and police were subsequently assembled at the Gate 1 of the Laguna Technopark Inc. (LTI). A firetruck was also deployed near HCPI.

“This is so unfair. We didn’t have any idea that the company will be closing down. We demand that the company management to sit down with us and explain the illegal closure and what it intends to do with the workers. We have families to feed and children to send to school,” says Christopher Oliquinio, Union Vice President of Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda (LMNH-OLALIA-KMU).

LMNH-OLALIA-KMU, in its statement, noted that prior to Honda’s sudden closure, they have been conducting dialogues with the management regarding the downsizing of their production. The management told them that it will lessen its production from 35 cars per day to 18 and that it will no longer be manufacturing the Honda City model. The management even assured them that no one will lose their job, as those who will be displaced from the downsizing will be transferred to a new department. That’s why they were completely surprised with its sudden closure.

“It is difficult to understand the claims of Honda Cars that it is closing its manufacturing operations in the Philippines, ‘to meet Honda’s customer needs in the Philippines for reasonably priced and good-quality products…’ It is putting a highest premium to customer’s satisfaction at the expense of the jobs and welfare of the very workers who labored very hard to make the costumers satisfied,” added Arago.

Honda’s closure will impact not only its 387 workers and their families, but also the workers of its 60 companies supplying parts and materials to Honda that are in the country. Most of the HCPI workers have been serving the company for 15-20 years. Some even served them for 28 years.

A day after the closure, Malacanang commented on the closure of the manufacturing plant of Japanese automaker Honda in the country. “It is very insensitive and uncalled for,” avers CTUHR on Malacanang’s statement that the closure will not affect the national economy and that affected workers can find jobs in country’s Build, Build, Build projects. It added that there are other foreign companies in the country apart from Honda Cars.

“Malacanang seems to be out of touch as it undermines the welfare of workers and their families. It also seems to ignores the reality that Honda Cars Phils. has Php1.9 billion investments in the country. It continues to boast its BBB projects which has cost the government Php 43 billion debt, while it fails to provide decent jobs it has promised. 5.1% Filipinos remain unemployed,” CTUHR added.

CTUHR calls on HCPI management to have a heart, face its workers, respect their rights and conduct a dialogue immediately. CTUHR also urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to exercise its power, intervene immediately and take appropriate measures to protect the jobs of those affected and ensure that foreign investors respect the rights of Filipino workers. CTUHR appeals to the public to support the illegally locked out workers. Guards and police are preventing supporters and fellow workers from bringing in food and other needs for the protesting workers.

Currently, hundreds of workers are still holding vigil inside the factory, as they demand a dialogue with HCPI management, which they rightfully deserve.

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[From the web] Creation of JIPCO: Institutionalizing the Massive Workers’ Rights Violations and Re-Affirming the State’s Policy of Cutting Militant Unionism -CTUHR

Photo from CTUHR FB page

Labor rights NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) condemns the creation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) in various economic and freeport zones in Central Luzon. “JIPCO is institutionalizing the massive workers’ rights violations in the economic zones. It is also a re-affirmation of the state’s policy of crushing militant unionism, under the pretext of its anti-terrorism campaign, to make capitalists happy. It is a clear abandonment of the state’s commitment to the workers’ basic rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining guaranteed in ILO Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which the Philippines is a signatory,” said CTUHR in a statement.

Last Wednesday, January 22, the Police Regional Office in Region III (PRO3) launched the JIPCO in the Clark Freeport Zone. They blatantly stated that they are setting up offices in special economic zones in Central Luzon to prevent militant labor groups from organizing workers’ union in factories and other business establishments.

“The formation of JIPCO to `thwart’ militant organizing is not new. What is new is its naked, shameless and blatant in its objectives. JIPCO formalizes the decades-long labor rights’ violations emanating from police and military intervention in the labor relations in the country,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

Arago recalled that in 2002, under the pretext of countering communism and terrorism, then Macapagal-Arroyo administration labelled unions as ‘factory terrorists and criminals. This signaled a drastic increase of violent attacks against workers legitimate collective actions. Most of the tactics/schemes they used to pacify unions are still being used to date, such as intelligence spying in the production line. These violations in fact, in fact prompted DOLE to issue a joint DOLE, PNP, PEZA Guidelines on the Conduct of Police, Military in the ecozone in 2011.[1] “This kind of tactics contribute to the decline of unionism in the country, making workers more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation of big businesses,” Arago added.

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[Press Release] ‘Hands Off Teacher-Unionists!’ -CTUHR

Labor rights NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) denounces the consecutive brutal attacks against teacher-unionists in the country.

Just a few days after the celebration of the World Teachers’ Day, wherein teachers in the country ‘celebrated’ through a huge protest nationwide to demand their call for living wage or the P30,000 entry-level salary for teachers, attacks against them escalated.

On October 15, teacher-unionists Zhaydee and Ramil Cabañelez survived an attempt to their lives. Teacher Zhaydee is currently in critical condition with two (2) gunshot wounds on the chest and two (2) on the feet. She was shot during the school’s flag ceremony, in front of horrified school children. Both teachers, Zhaydee and Ramil are active members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Region 10.

Meanwhile, on October 16, another teacher and member of ACT in Bulacan fell victim to what ACT considers as a systemic attack against teacher-unionists. Digna Mateo, a staff of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Bulacan and ACT Provincial Coordinator was illegally arrested at the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Malolos, Bulacan. A few days prior to the arrest, Mateo was tailed by two men riding-in-tandem who were later known to be members of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). Elements of the military have also visited her home as a form of harassment.

“Only the state stands to benefit from these attacks as warning that to keep them silent despite their low pay while they are breaking their brains and brawn to teach our children. This clearly undermines their legitimate demands for substantial wage hike and better working conditions that consequently undermines the future of this nation. This government’s utter disregard for human rights ignites more protests and hatred of this rotten system. The current government should have learned that the more they suppress and repress dissent amidst poverty, the more it encourages resistance,”Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said.

Since 2016, ACT has been a target of different forms of harassment – profiling, red-tagging, threats and vilification. “As the solidarity of teachers and other sectors nationwide grows, the Duterte administration also intensifies its attacks.” Arago added.

CTUHR calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Teacher Digna Mateo and a thorough investigation of Teacher Zhaydee’s shooting. The Center also urges the Commission on Human Rights in which ACT also testified in the latter’s public inquiry, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Employment to look into these matters and execute appropriate actions. It also calls on both departments to prompt the government to accept the ILO Tripartite High Level Mission into the Philippines.

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 718 00 26

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[Press Release] Network to Support Plight of Workers Launched -CTUHR

Several lawyers, artists, Church people, members of the academe and labor rights advocates launched the Labor Rights Defender Network (LaRD-Net) on October 9, 2019. The formation of this new network is a response to the growing need to consolidate the ranks of labor rights defenders in support of workers in the midst of continuing violation of workers’ rights and an alarming state of repression and violence. The network aims to conduct campaigns and activities to support the workers just calls for decent wages and dignified work.

“Just like how ordinary Filipinos showed the bayanihan spirit to help the farmers who lost their livelihood because of the Rice Tarrification Law, we would also like to extend our help to another basic sector in our society – the workers. Aside from low wages and inhumane working conditions at work, the workers are completely being stripped off their dignity as they are faced with violence as they fight for their legitimate rights,” said Atty. Fudge Tajar, spokesperson of the network.

Recently, the Philippines has once again been tagged by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as one of the World’s Worst Countries for Workers in terms of job security, safety at work and freedom of association. The state of workers’ rights in the country is very alarming. Even the International Labor Organization (ILO) has expressed concern about the growing repression and violence being experienced by workers in the Philippines. In fact, they have called on the PH government to accept an ILO High-Level Mission that will look into the various reports of trade union and human rights violations, especially the alarming number of killings of workers and labor rights advocates under the Duterte government, which has reached 43.

Atty. Tajar also noted that the current crises – food, economic and even the transportation crisis are pushing the workers to their limits and magnifies the need for the workers to stand up for their rights. “As the clamor of the workers grows, the response they get is different forms of repression and harassment. The past three (3) years have been filled with reports of violent strike dispersals, red-tagging of unionists, illegal arrests of labor rights advocates and other attacks on workers’ rights,” Tajar added.

“At a time like this, when the government is inutile and insensitive to the needs of the people, we have to step up to help them, both by engaging in campaign initiatives in support of their calls on the government and business owners for accountability and also by conducting activities that would support their needs such as free legal aid, donation drives for striking workers and families, jail visits to imprisoned unionists, dialogues, etc. We are calling on professionals, lawyers, patriotic business owners, and labor rights advocate to join this network. Let’s make use of our knowledge and abilities to support and uplift the workers’ conditions. Together, let us make this government and their capitalist friends whom they serve, accountable to the workers and the people, ” Tajar ended.###

References:
Atty. Fudge Tajar (LaRD-Net Spokesperson)-0915 342 2304
Kamz (Network Secretariat) – 0998 478 8574

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[From the web] Workers, Labor Rights Advocates in PH Join Global Climate Strike -CTUHR

Photo from CTUHR,org

September 20, marks the Global Climate Strike organized and spearheaded by the youth and supported by different sectors around the world. This aims to make a strong call for Climate Justice, in time for the United Nations’ climate talks leading to the 26th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Workers are one of the most vulnerable sectors affected by the climate change inside and outside the workplace, from frequency of workplace accidents and illnesses to loss of love ones and livelihoods from extreme weathers events like extreme heat, floods, landslides and typhoons. Workers must not only support but also mobilize e for the Global Climate Strike before we get wiped out by climate change, ”Daisy Arago, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) Executive Director said.

Every day the continuous changes in temperature are sending especially the workers in the agriculture and construction sectors in increased precarious working conditions. Too much heat had put them in greater risk of heat-related hazards and illnesses and landslides and joblessness when it is raining. Not only their productivity is greatly reduced due to heat stress but their income as well as no work, no pay system, regardless of weather exists.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the work lost due to heat stress in the agriculture and construction sectors is expected to soar to 6.5% by 2030. Arago also emphasized the findings of a recent study that revealed that only 100 transnational corporations are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions burning the earth. Big oil companies are heating up the planet, while the poor are choking from high fuel prices.

Aside from the scorching heat, extreme weather events or natural disasters such as floods, landslides, storms, droughts and wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense. Worker populations, who suffer from low wages, lack of job security, inadequate housing, poor social services and low access to health services and clean water, also bear the heaviest brunt from natural disasters. “Workers and their communities have to be resilient from climate change impacts, and the only way for them to do that having decent jobs that pay them well and enable them to have decent housing and better access to social services,” adds Arago.

The Philippines is one of the five (5) countries most vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters and climate change due to our geographic location and economic activities. Activities that are very destructive to the environment and to the planet like large-scale deforestation, mining activities, dependence on coal-fired power plants and even use of chemicals in the manufacturing sector etc.

The Center vows to help in raising awareness and building the capacity of workers to cope with natural calamities, mitigate and address the impacts of climate change individually and in an organized way. Holding corporations to account and to stop their destructive activities for increased profit is everyone’s responsibility and we owe this to our children and future generation that they have safer place to dwell, CTUHR ended.

Stop deforestation now!
No worker shall be suspended from work due to climate disaster!
Hold Corporations to account!
Climate Justice Now!

Read more @ctuhr.org

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 718 00 26

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[Statement] CTUHR Reports on EJKs and other Human Rights Violations Among Workers at the CHR Public Hearing

10 September 2019

On September 10, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) joined fellow labor and human rights defenders and advocates at the Commission on Human Rights’ public inquiry on the attacks on human rights defenders in the country.

“We welcome these efforts of the CHR to hear the plight of human rights defenders in the country today. The human rights situation in the country has reached a record-low point where policies, state forces and agencies are all geared oriented to repress people’s dissent amidst growing discontent and poverty,” said CTUHR Executive Director Daisy Arago.

For the past three years, the Philippines has consistently landed on the top 10 worst countries for workers according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Rights Index Reports. This is a clear manifestation of the dire state of workers’ rights in the country.

Arago, in her presentation, highlighted the 43 workers, unionists and labor rights defenders extrajudicially killed under Duterte’s three years in power. She also noted that most of these killings happened under the pretext of Duterte’s policies such as the Oplan Tokhang, Martial Law in Mindanao, Oplan Sauron in Negros and the Executive Order 70 (whole-of-nation approach and creation of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and Oplan Kapanatagan.

Some of the victims of EJK among workers are Francisco Guevarra, a PLDT union member; Linus Cubol, former president of Manila; Merly Valgun and Dorie Mallari, Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of Annex Vendors Association- KADAMAY Cavite; Dannyboy Bautista, Board Member of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (NAMASUFA-KMU) in Compostela Valley; and Felipe Dacal-Dacal, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW). 19 of the 43 killed were sugar workers in Negros and part of the NFSW, including the 9 workers killed in the Sagay massacre.

The CTUHR Executive Director highlighted the killing of one of their former staff in Cebu, Butch Rosales, who was killed in broad daylight in a public transportation. Since 2009, Rosales has been receiving death threats due to his work as a labor rights defender and recently, as a volunteer of the Rise Up for Life and Rights Network.

“Even from the beginning of Duterte’s term, he has been vocal about his views against unions and strikes, so this atmosphere of violence and repression against workers come as no surprise. However, it is still very alarming, as this administration continues to connive with and favor capitalists over the exploited workers,”said Arago.

Arago further added that the attacks against workers, especially those who are organized or organizing their ranks, are systematic. The State employs a variety of tactics to silence and repress the growing discontent among workers – harassment, vilification, fabricated trumped up charges, red-tagging, violent dispersals, abduction and brutal killing.

“We call on the CHR to urge and pressure the government to accept the Intenational Labor organization’s tripartite High-Level Mission to the Philippines, which shall investigate the strings of labor rights violations in the country,”Arago appealed to the Commission. She added that the workers are in urgent need of the CHR’s help and support in their fight for justice for all the rights violations that this regime, together with the capitalists, have committed. “Help us hold these culprits accountable and protect the rights of the workers,”Arago ended.

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 718 00 26

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[Urgent Appeal] 17 NutriAsia Workers Illegally Arrested, Falsely Charged and Jailed for Exercising Right to Strike -CTUHR

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) seeks for your solidarity and support in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of 17 workers of local condiment company, NutriAsia Inc. arrested and detained more than a month ago.

More than a year after the workers’ strike in Nutri Asia-Marilao, Bulacan, the workers of NutriAsia in Light Industry and Science Park (LISP), Cabuyao, Laguna, led by KASAPINA-OLALIA-KMU, also launched a strike on July 6, 2019, at around 5:00 in the morning. Workers complained against the following unfair labor practices of the company: (1) labor-only contracting, (2) illegal deduction of wages, (3) forced overtime, (4) underpayment of overtime pay and (5) harassment and fabrication of cases filed versus especially union members.

The strike came two (2) years after the Department of Labor and Employment Region IV A (DOLE IV-A) issued a decision in 2017 ordering NutriAsia to recognize as regular employees the 714 contractual workers at the time employed by ANR, B-Mirk at Serbiz agencies. The latter, according to the Order are engaged in prohibited practice of Labor Only Contracting (LOC), thus, the workers they hired and deployed in NutriAsia are deemed to be regular workers of NutriAsia. NutriAsia and its strings of manpower agencies however, defied the order and workers remained contractual.

Few hours after the strike commenced on July 6, at about 9:30am, while they were cooking breakfast, combined forces of Philippine National Police (PNP) Laguna, NutriaAsia security guards and hired goons attacked the strikers. The goons and security guards used a bulldozer to forcibly open the gate of the plant and threw stones against the workers who held their strike inside the plant. The police, headed by PNP- Laguna Chief Colonel Eleazar Mata and PNP Cabuyao OIC Zeric Soriano, used their batons and shields against the workers. In the middle of the commotion, the police arrested 17 striking workers (14 male, 3 female) were taken. There were also reports of sexual harassment, wherein some of the arresting cops and security guards touched the breasts of an arrested woman striker. The violent dispersal also left scores of workers injured.

All the 17 arrested striking workers of Nutriasia were brought to Cabuyao police station and were later charged with Arson,Serious and Slight Illegal Detention, Malicious Mischief, Robbery, Grave Coercion and Theft following complaints filed by police and company guards.

The arrested workers are the following:

1. Reyniero Maarat (Union President, KASAPINA-OLALIA-KMU)

2. Jennifer Lagaya (Vice President of Education, KASAPINA)

3. Marnie Varona

4. Romar Varona

5. Joanne Galang

6. Emaylene Galang

7. Jonathan Francsico

8. Kenny Baguio

9. Junar Porte

10. Joselito Enate

11. Christopher Delmo

12. Lemuel Lalong-Isip

13. Joemar Arancel

14. Erickson Aliling

15. Christopher Azores

16. Antonio Montimor Jr.

17. Dindo Ocaya

A week later, they were transferred, even without court order to the Provincial Jail under the Bureau of Jail Management Penology. Circular No.15 series of 1982 Circular No 9 of 1982 enjoin government prosecutors to first secure clearance from DOLE and/or office of the President before taking cognizance of complaints for preliminary investigations and filing in the court of corresponding information of cases arising out of or related to a labor dispute.

This law was not observed in the case of the NutriAsia17 and still violated after nearly two months in jail. At the hearing, the judge recommended more than P700,000 (US$13,592) bail for their temporary liberty. The union however, is unable to pay.

It could be recalled that the workers in the NutriAsia plant in Marilao, Bulacan also faced similar incidents last 2018. They launched a strike due to same demands and complaints and were confronted with violence, harassment and illegal arrests. More than a year later, those issues have not been resolved, workers lost their jobs and NutriAsia and its owner, Joselito D. Campos, Jr.have not been held accountable for their labor and human rights violations.

Mr. Campos is an Executive Director of Del Monte Pacific Ltd. and the Vice Chairman of Del Monte Foods, Inc, Del Monte Pacific Ltd US subsidiary.He is also a Director of Field Fresh Foods Private Ltd., a joint venture of the Company with the Bharti Group of India. He was the former Chairman and CEO of United Laboratories, Inc. and its regional subsidiaries and affiliates. Unilab is the Philippines’ largest pharmaceutical company with substantial operations in the Asian region.

NutriAsia Incorporated prides itself for being the leading producer and distributor of sauces and condiments in the country. After all it has done to its workers to whom it owes its success, it is now known to Filipinos and the international community as a notorious labor and human rights violator that commits violations with impunity. It should be held accountable at the soonest possible time.

Recommended Actions:

Please support the workers and the union in calling the attention of NutriAsia Inc. and Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the PNP Laguna to demand the following:

1. Immediate and unconditional release of the 17 workers and unionists arrested last July 6, 2019

2. Full Compliance to the Philippine labor laws by immediately regularizing the 714 contractual workers ordered by the DOLE in July 2017, to be promoted as permanent employees, and stop the illegal practice of using Labor Only Contractors

3. Reinstatement of union members and all illegally dismissed workers and provision of all back wages in compliance with existing laws.

4. Stop busting the union and start the negotiation for Collective Bargaining agreement.

5. Stop all forms of harassment, intimidation and other discriminating practices against the workers and their supporters, regardless of employment status

6. Hold the dispersal team led by Cabuyao City PNP Chief Zeric Soriano and PNP Laguna Provincial Director Eleazar Matta accountable for the violent strike dispersal.

Please send your communication to the following:

H.E. Rodrigo Roa Duterte
President, Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel Manila Philippines
Telephone: (632) 736-8645
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail:op@president.gov.phor send message through http://op-proper.gov.ph/contact-us/

Hon. Silvestre H. Bello
Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
Muralla Wing cor. General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila, 1002, Philippines
Telephone: (632) 526-6976
Email:secshb3@dole.gov.ph, osec@dole.gov.ph

Mr. Menardo Guevarra
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila
Direct Line: 521-1908; 526-5462
Trunkline: 523-84-81 loc. 211/214
Telefax: (+632) 523-9548
Email: osecmig@gmail.com, osec@doj.gov.ph, communications@doj.gov.ph

Mr. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928 5655, 926 6188, 920 9510
Telefax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com

Gen. Oscar Albayalde
Director General
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Tel No.: (+632) 726 4361 0998 8698 888
Send message thru website: http://www.pnp.gov.ph

Mr. Joselito Campos Jr
JY Campos Centre
9TH Ave., Taguig, 1634
Metro Manila
Philippines
Tel- (02) 662 2888
Email:hello@nutriasia.com

Please send a copy of your solidarity statements or any communication to ctuhr.pie@gmail.com.

Thank you very much for your support and solidarity!

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[Press Release] Resist Martial Law in Negros, Stop the Killings! Build Peace in Negros Now! -CTUHR

What’s in Negros Island that killings, violence and poverty keep on pounding the province and its people seems to have not known peace in their lives? Why is the State is using it as a laboratory or testing ground for something so dangerous that they seem desiring for the entire country?

The series of extrajudicial killings in Negros against the farmers, sugar workers, teachers which Defend Negros recorded to have reached 87 victims since Duterte got into power is seriously alarming. Amidst hunger and poverty, Negros remains to be one of the 20 poorest provinces in the country. Since Marcos Martial Law, Arroyo’s Oplan Makabayan to Duterte’s counter insurgency operation and Oplan Sauron, Negros figured prominently in the number of killings and horrible human rights violations. The killings of hapless victims are now being used to condition the people’s minds into declaring Martial Law.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) joins the voices of those who reject the militarist Duterte government’s plan to declare Martial Law in Negros, amidst the numerous onslaughts on peasants, farmworkers, human rights advocates and activists.

Martial Law will only increase the killings, as the primary suspects for most of these murders are state agents themselves. For instance, one of the victims, Felipe Dacal-Dacal, an active member of National Federation of Sugar Worker (NFSW) in Escalante, Negros Occidental, who was shot last June 8, 2019, was able to tell his relatives that his assailant was a Philippine Army intelligence officer.

Extrajudicial killings escalated when Duterte issued Memorandum 32 in November 2018, which ordered more deployment of military and police in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Bicol region to suppress what they claim as lawless violence and acts of terror. Then on December 2018, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), implemented Oplan Sauron1 and Oplan Sauron2 last March 2019 – the government’s counter insurgency operation in the province.

The killings in Negros include two (2) massacres – the Sagay Massacre wherein nine (9) sugarcane farmworkers were killed and the Canlaon Massacre where 14 farmers were murdered. One of the most recent and the youngest victim is a one-year old baby who was killed alongside his father in Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Negros has had a long and bloody history of people’s struggle for land, higher wages for workers, against hunger and justice. For many decades, landlords with their vast haciendas rule over the island and worsen the oppression of peasants and farmworkers. The people, on the other hand, find means to fight back. They organize themselves into unions and people’s organizations, cultivate idle lands that Certificate of Land Ownership (CLOA) issued to them by the government to feed themselves and stand up for their rights.

A declaration of Martial Law in Negros will worsen the situation in the island for the alleged perpetrators will be given more power. They will sow more fear and trample on human rights of the people especially those who are actively standing up for their land and rights.

We join all peace-loving Filipinos in opposing and resisting this plan of declaring Martial rule in Negros. We urge the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the international community, especially the United Nations Human Rights Council to look into this matter and pressure the Duterte government to halt the plan to impose martial law, stop the killings, hold the real perpetrators to account and give peace a chance in Negros!

Defend Negros!
Stop the Killings!
Justice for All the Victims!
Peace in Negros Now!

MEDIA RELEASE
07 August 2019
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 718 00 26

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[Press Release] On the Violent Dispersal of Workers’ Strike of Champion Detergent Maker: ‘Hold the Company Accountable,’ DOLE Urged -CTUHR

The labor rights NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) vehemently condemns the barbaric and brutal attack against the striking workers of Peerless Producers Manufacturing Corporation (PEPMACO), manufacturer of Champion brand detergent and other surfactants.

At around 1:00 in the morning of June 28, 2019, hundreds of goons and security guards wearing masks forcibly destroyed the picket line, attacked around 200 striking workers with their batons, hurled big rocks at them and fired jets of water. Eleven (11) workers were reported to be seriously hurt and brought to the hospital, mostly incurring head injuries.

“This is a desperate move by the Taiwanese business tycoon owner, Simeon Tiu to resume its production and amass millions in profit from lowly paid contractual workers laboring like slaves in his factory. This is in sharp contrast to what it projects in Champion brand detergent marketing (Tapat po sa inyo). PEPMACO has never been considerate of its workers, violates the law and those who complained are suspended. This is slavery. Meanwhile, DOLE has done nothing about it.” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said.

PEPMACO is the company that manufactures the detergent and fabric conditioner brand Champion, Calla, Hanna shampoo and conditioner and other surfactants for export. PEPMACO is based in Airstrip Silangan Industrial Park, Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna.

Last Monday, June 24, the workers, led by the PEPMACO Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU launched a strike due to long-term contractualization, grave violations of occupational health and safety standards, excessive working hours, union-busting and illegal dismissal of union members and leaders since the workers formed their union in 2018. The strike successfully paralyzed the production of the company since then.

The workers had organized their union since last year, but even before that, the company management has been employing different forms of harassment against the workers. The dismissal of around 70 union members and officers is the latest of its brazen acts. The management also claims that they have no employer-employee relationship with the workers and refuses to attend the necessary hearings to arrive at a resolution for the labor dispute.

Arago added that CTUHR is alarmed at how corporations continue to commit labor rights abuses with impunity, while this government is either oblivious or is deliberately ignoring these violations of the law because they’re their friends. There have been a number of protests and strikes violently dispersed by goons and even state forces under Duterte’s almost 3 years as President, but his government continues to turn a deaf ear to their cries for justice and accountability.

CTUHR urges the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other responsible authorities to immediately address this incident. “We challenge DOLE Secretary Bello to intervene and hold PEPMACO accountable for its brutal dispersal of the strike, for union busting and for a string of violations of labor standards. To strike is right. We demand the immediate pullout of all armed persons close to the strike area as this does not only directly violate the sanctity of the picket line but also cause intimidation and violence against the workers.”

CTUHR calls on the public, especially Champion, Calla, and Hana consumers to support the fight of the workers and demand for PEPMACO’s accountability. “We can support the workers in many ways, one of which is by boycotting PEPMACO products. This shall serve as a strong signal to the company that we, as consumers demand that they stop exploiting their workers and give them the respect and the rights they deserve.”

Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 718 00 26

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[From the web] Attacks on Workers and Unionists, Sinister Move to Deflect on Duterte’s Failure to Improve Their Lives -CTUHR

“In its 3rdLabor Day, the Duterte regime continues to fail on its election promises to end ENDO, provide substantial wage increase and halt the skyrocketing prices. Yet, it never has second thoughts on busting unions and blaming workers’ restlessness for factory closures. It astutely used Mindanao Martial Law to militarize workplaces, forced unionists to surrender and violently dispersed picket lines,” says the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR). Today, the regime’s candidates are parading what they deemed as their own accomplishments sans an end to contractualization and wage increase, perhaps scared that voters will collect them.

Left Behind, Job Cuts amidst DOLE Alleged Regularization

`Walang maiiwan, lalo na ang mga taga probinsya’ (No one will be left behind, especially those in the provinces), these are the popular campaign words by Duterte. In reality, workers are not just left behind, they are pushed further to the margins. The DO 174 and EO 51touted to axe labor-only contractors are not ridding LOCs and manpower agencies, they are ridding the workers employed by them when the companies ‘terminate’ the agency’s services or suddenly declared bankruptcy.

Some classic examples of these practices of terminating workers simultaneous to terminating agencies are Jolibee Corp. and PLDT. More than 12,000 were axed, instead of regularized. In Hanjin Shipyard in Zambales, almost 17,000 workers lost their jobs when the company instituted voluntary resignation allegedly due to its inability to pay bank loans and banckruptcy. This is on top of the 18 factories with 31,280 workers which closed down due to economic losses and additional 2,800 workers dismissed in companies retaliation for their union organizing, CTUHR monitoring revealed. This does not include the more than 900 Sumitomo Fruit Corp (SUMIFRU) workers who had been fighting day by day to keep their jobs.

Where are the 500,000 workers that DOLE regularized? Were they regularized in the company or the manpower agencies?

A recent study of think-tank IBON Foundation revealed that the Duterte administration has only created an average of 81,000 jobs per year for Filipinos. Though Malacanang assailed the data and red-tagged the IBON Foundation, it was apparent that there are more illegal Chinese workers benefitting from Duterte’s so-called jobs creation than Filipinos. Even the government’s flagship program, Build, Build, Build which they claim to provide jobs for the Filipinos are ineffective job growth-wise. They not only create temporary and informal jobs but the roads and bridges funded by China bring with them the Chinese workers. In fact, at the Senate hearing, it was noted that around 119,000 Chinese workers are illegally working here. There are reports that Chinese workers are given priority and paid higher even in the construction sector.

The PNP in a recent statement blames unions, notably Kilusang Mayo Uno for job losses due to workers’ participation to rallies and strikes. It’s a Marcos Martial Law allegations that the government pulls from somewhere when it is convenient to transfer the blame or cannot answer the workers’ demands.

`Deadma’ and Numb on the demand for national minimum wage

Since Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, again, promised to make life lighter, Duterte regime continually squeezes particularly the poor from paying taxes from everything. It also significantly cut the workers’ below minimum salary and drove them to work killer hours to augment income. TRAIN generates P1.962 trillion in government revenues in 2018, which according to the Department of Finance (DOF) still fell short of its P2.044-trillion target.

Yet, until today’s Labor Day, the government refuses to grant the P750 national minimum wage and peddling only the job fair that build, build, build projects allegedly can provide. Since January this year, fuel prices have gone up more than 10 times, and yet the government is only keen in keeping businesses or in business as usual mode, even in times of earthquake. Workers are also complaining that work in poorly ventilated manufacturing plants and in the construction sector are becoming so unbearable due to extreme heat, and yet the government, with its Climate resiliency mantra is not pushing companies to provide their workers adequate protection and assistance.

Intensified attacks against the labor sector

CTUHR underscores that cases of trade union and human rights violations` dramatically increased during Duterte’s nearly three years in office. It cited 42 victims of extrajudicial killings of workers, unionists, and organizers primarily from the agriculture sector. It added that 3,508 were arbitrarily arrested, harassed, physically assaulted or falsely accused of criminal offenses. CTUHR further noted that it documented 13 cases of direct and open attacks against workers and unionists inside and outside the strike perpetuated by either police or military forces.

Martial Law in Mindanao has inflicted heavy damages against unions. Recently, three (3) union leaders were abducted, tortured and forced to withdraw their union membership along with 150 others from KMU-affiliate local union at Musahamat Farms in Compostela Valley on March 2019. They were also forced to sign a paper claiming that they were NPA surenderees. Last year in November, union board member of SUMIFRU workers was gunned down, killing him instantly and in December, the Union President’s house was burned to ashes by soldiers of 61stIB.

Duterte’s direct tirades against unions demonizing them, especially Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) – affiliated unions, had never been as damaging as it is now. Its inability to address unemployment and poverty is matched by its unequal attacks on unions and human rights defenders in every sector labeling them as communist fronts or aiding terrorism. This clearly violates ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on right to freedom of association and collectively bargain.

CHR has cautioned the government of this red tagging, as this clearly violates the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It brings more harm than good, it added. KMU also filed complaints at the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“This country is confronting labor and human rights crisis perpetuated by no other than the President and his administration. Thus, this labor day, CTUHR pledges again its unwavering solidarity with the workers in their continuing struggle for job security, national minimum wage, dignified work, and safe working conditions. His so-called `malasakit’ (concern) is only for bowed heads and sealed tongues and calls on workers to muster their strength and power to resist this multi-faceted assault. It reaffirms its call on companies and the Duterte government to stop the attacks against labor, human rights, and people’s rights defenders!

Source: ctuhr.org

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