Filipinas - New assassinations of trade union leaders and activists

Unions have condemned the wave of attacks and violence unleashed by the military of the Philippines against union organisers during “counter-insurgency” actions of 7 March 2020. These attacks are an escalation of the concerning trade union repression and human rights situation in the country.
During the 7 March operations, six trade unionists were arrested in Laguna. These arrests took place two days after President Duterte’s address to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), during which the president instructed the police and army officers to kill armed rebels and communists. Unionists note with grave concern the escalation of the NTF-ELCAC’s operations in southern Tagalog, Laguna and Manila. The task force’s actions have aggravated the environment of physical violence and impunity against trade unionists and have contributed to the troubling culture of impunity, with open sanctioning and “counter-insurgency” raids being used without regard for due process, often leading to deaths.
Unionists also note with concern the escalating practice of red-tagging against trade unionists in Davao. Police officers acting in the capacity of the ELCAC are labelling independent union leaders as members of the Communist Party and the Red Army, forcing them to disband their union. Harassment and intimidation caried out at workplaces and in industrial zones as part of the NTF-ELCAC “industrial peace mission” are clear interference in industrial relations.
The targeting of human rights lawyers has also increased in severity over recent years. Nine human rights activists were killed in southern Tagalog in the 7 March operations. Human rights lawyers have also become the target of red-tagging by the Philippine security forces. The Philippine police are accused of interfering with the judiciary in Calbayog City to extract information about the lawyers representing defendants allegedly associated with the Communist Party.

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