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ILO inquiry on the Philippines should include unions

20 February, 2020Unions in the Philippines are calling on the government to include trade union representatives in the technical working group for International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) inquiry into the killings of labour activists in Philippines.

Following the announcement of Philippine labour secretary, Silvestre H. Bello III, on 14 February that the Department of labour and employment (DOLE) was ready for the ILO high-level mission, the national executive vice president of Integrated labour organization, Abraham Reyes, says:

“We welcome DOLE’s decision to allow ILO to probe into the killings of trade unionists and continued red-tagging of labour activists. However, there must be union representatives in the working group to provide a balanced view and ensure impartiality.”

According to DOLE’s statement, the working group consists of undersecretary Claro A. Arellano, labour assistant secretary Benjo M. Benavidez, members of the National labour relations commission, Bureau of labour relations, as well as other state agencies.

“As some of the alleged perpetrators are from state security units, we doubt that true stories will be revealed if the preparatory work is done by other state agencies,” says Reyes.

Agreeing with Reyes, IndustriALL Global Union regional secretary Annie Adviento says that Philippine unions should be included in the process of determining the terms of reference of the mission, and which eye witnesses and families of victims to be summoned to the inquiry.

On 10 December 2019, unions around the world came together for a global day of action against the killing and red-tagging of trade unionists in the Philippines. At least 43 labour activists have been killed in the Philippines in the last few years.