The ACTU condemns the latest wave of repression of trade unionists in the Philippines. On the evening of 31 October, simultaneous raids of union and human rights organisations were carried out in Bacolod City, capital of the province of Negros Occidental resulting in the arrest and detention of 57 activists. Twenty one bus workers were arrested during a union meeting when the building was raided; elsewhere in the city, eight people, including four children, were held at gunpoint by police. Witnesses reported that non-uniformed men entered the property and planted firearms. All 57 activists were arrested and have been charged with the illegal possession of firearms. The raids were held just before a long weekend meaning that those who were detained could not immediately challenge their detention. Since 31 October there have been subsequent raids.
These latest actions by the Duterte government is part of the ongoing crackdown on trade unionists and political dissent. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) ranked the Philippines as one of the ten worst countries in the world for workers in 2019: protests are brutally repressed, workers are regularly violently attacked, with 10 unionists assassinated in 2018. Both the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Human Rights Council have resolved to send high level missions to investigate the extra-judicial killings and repression of trade unionists.
The ACTU backs the ITUC’s call and demands that the Duterte government stop the killing and repression of trade unionists. We demand that the Duterte government immediately receive an ILO mission to investigate the situation as a matter of urgency.