September 27, 2009 in columns
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
(Updates on the International Labor Fact-Finding Mission from reports on www.kilusangmayouno.org)
The ILO is a United Nations’ tripartite agency responsible for drawing up and ensuring the compliance of its member states to international labor standards. It was founded in 1919, and the Philippines has been a member since 1946.
ILO representatives from Geneva, Switzerland, in coordination with ILO Asia-Pacific, will conduct consultations with the Philippine government and workers’ organizations, and inspect two major manufacturing plants in Central and Southern Luzon.
The Mission is on September 22-29. They will also meet with the families of victims and survivors of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and labor-related harassment cases. Representatives of the ILO in the mission are Tim de Meyer (Standards Specialist, ILO Subregional Office, Bangkok), Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry (Director, International Labor Standards Department, ILO Geneva), and Karen Curtis (Deputy Director, International Labor Standards Department, ILO Geneva).
When the complaint was filed at the ILO on September 18, 2006, 64 workers have already fallen victims to extra-judicial killings since Arroyo’s presidency in 2001. After the complaint, 28 more workers were added to the list. Also, a relatively new form of repression hit the workers last year after the complaint: using trumped up criminal charges to detain workers.
Multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, arson, and other grave criminal charges were slapped at more than a hundred workers even without preliminary investigation. Six have already been jailed because of this. More and more factories have been turned into military camps to silence unions.
These are but some of the grave examples of trade-union rights violations we hope to highlight with the upcoming ILO mission. We hope that the Mission will bring added pressure on the government to stop its rampant violation of workers’ rights, and that the gravity of the issue will be exposed to, and will draw support from the international community. (by Juan Obrero)
Workers pickets Nestle Makati office on Ka Fort’s fourth death anniversary
Workers led by Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakpawis Partylist staged a picket in front of Nestle Philippines’ office in Makati to commemorate the fourth death anniversary of Nestle union leader Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna, one of the victims highlighted in the ILO high-level mission. Fortuna was chairman of the KMU regional formation PAMANTIK and Anakpawis in Southern Tagalog.
On Sept. 22, 2005, Ka Fort was shot dead while on his way home by suspected military agents alegedly hired by Nestle while the Nestle Cabuyao workers were on strike to protest illegal dismissal and non-negotiation of retirement benefits.
Motorcycle riding assasins, near-death stories and other testimonies
They were nearly killed but they still trooped to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Manila office to testify how elements of the Arroyo regime threatened and ruined the lives of many workers. They hope something substantial would result from the ILO first-ever mission to the Philippines to investigate the spate of trade union rights violations.
Vicente Barrios, president of the union in Suyafa Farm banana plantation in Compostela Valley, Mindanao, suffered two gunshot wounds when he and his companions were shot at by unidentified men riding a motorcycle in December 2006. His fellow union member Jerson Lastimoso was killed.
A few months earlier, two armed men broke into Barrios’ residence. He hid in his bedroom. Until now, Barrios notices armed men tailing him.
Nicanor Briones, Camarines Sur president of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW-KMU), sustained 5 gunshot wounds when two armed men riding a motorcycle fired at him. Briones joined a people’s caravan against Arroyo’s Charter Change and political repression when it happened.
Joel Ascutia, chairperson of Pinag-Isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nation-wide (PISTON-KMU) in Bicol was preparing for the nation-wide transport strike last July 13 when he was shot. It was before daybreak when a man riding a motorcycle stopped at the strike center and shot him 5 times.
“The Philippines is really one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a labor leader, an active union member, and a labor advocate,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog in his speech before the ILO.
“With our testimonies, we hope we have shown that trade union repression happens in all parts of the country where there is militant and nationalist trade unionism. This only points that there is in fact a national policy and campaign to crush and wipe out militant and nationalist trade unionism in the country.”
Witnesses and co-workers of victims said they hope the ILO representatives will recommend the prosecution of members of government agencies, especially the military, who took part in these attacks against workers.
Another unionist arrested on false charges as ILO FFM begins…
Combined elements of the Philippine Army (PA) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arrested and detained another unionist from Southern Tagalog in an entrapment operation in Angono, Rizal at around 6PM on September 21.
Declard Cangmaong, 36 years old, a garments worker, was with his family for a holiday in his sister’s residence when he was handcuffed by two (2) army personnel in civilian and seven (7) CIDG men armed with 45 calibre pistols. The CIDG men reportedly wore white shirts and no nameplates except for their ID slings with “CIDG” on it.# nordis.net