ILO laments Philippines’ failure to give updates on probe into attacks on unionists

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) expressed its dissatisfaction with the Philippine government’s investigation of the various incidents of violence and harassment against Filipino trade unionists under President Rodrigo Duterte. 

The ILO said that it is "observing with regret" that the Philippine government has failed to update it on the progress of the probe.

In its 2022 report on the application of international labour standards released on February 9, the ILO called on the Philippine government to conduct “prompt and effective investigations into alleged killings of labor unionists.” It noted the “extreme seriousness of the allegations and their repeated nature.”

The country’s labour department responded to the ILO, saying that the investigations on trade union rights violations are progressing accordingly.

However, Filipino trade unionists belied the claim made by the Philippine government. 

“We add our voice to the call of Filipino trade unionists to expedite the investigations on various trade union rights violations, especially those that resulted in the death of trade unionists.  Like the ILO, our trade union affiliates protest the Philippine government’s lack of transparency in the conduct of the probe and how it is crawling at a turtle’s pace,” BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator Apolinar Tolentino said. 

BWI reiterated its call to the Philippine government to immediately investigate all cases of killings and other trade union rights violations. It also called on the country’s Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to strengthen its monitoring of labour rights abuses, particularly the full operationalisation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons as provided in the Office of the President’s Administrative Order No. 35 series of 2012, with meaningful trade union representation and renewed mandate.