Assaults on human and trade union rights are growing in the Philippines. As part of its ongoing solidarity campaign, the Council of Global Unions (CGU), has organised a webinar on Monday, 23 November, where trade union and human rights activists will explain the latest moves of the Duterte government and its supporters to spread fear and increase repression.
Among the most dangerous measures is the Anti-Terrorist Act, which further exposes trade unionists and other activists to charges of terrorism for normal trade union or opposition activity. It provides for detention without trial, which is renewable, and proposes dangerously vague definitions of terrorism. That lack of precision and the danger or arbitrary use of the law has led to challenges in the Supreme Court. The issuance of the implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) accentuate human rights concerns.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers, one of EI’s member organisations in the Philippines, has been a favourite target of the government and of Duterte followers. In addition to threats and intimidation, leaders and activists have been subject to surveillance.
Members of the Congress and human rights defenders, including those defending the rights of indigenous peoples, have also been targets. Independent media have been limited or shut down and journalists have been killed. Maria Ressa, founder of Rappler, an independent online newspaper, has been subject to harassment, arrests, and specious charges. The latest legal attack brought a conviction for “cyber-libel”.
Webinar registrations are open at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UMM-UgD0TE6NMwGqniHoJw.
The event will take place on Monday, 23 November, from 1 pm to 3 pm CET | 8 pm to 10 pm Manila.
Sustained global solidarity actions
This is the latest of a series of global solidarity actions. A joint fact-finding mission of the Council of Global Unions was conducted in July of 2019, under the leadership of the Co-Chairs of the CGU task force on the Philippines - Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of the Building and Wood Workers’ International, and David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International. The global union movement also organised demonstrations followed by virtual events in 2020, including a webinar in September. Action is also being taken at the International Labour Organisation, the UN Human Rights Commission, and in the European Union. Protests will be organised on 30 November, aGlobal Day of Action on the Philippines.
David Edwards encouraged participation in the two-hour webinar on Monday, the 23rd, saying “the attacks on trade unionists and others in the Philippines who dare to disagree are multiple and severe. Repression may intensify in the final period of Duterte’s last term, which will end in mid-2022. It is crucial that we intensify our solidarity with trade unionists and with all who fight for freedom and democracy in the Philippines.”