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Labor groups urge gov’t to end red-tagging of trade unions

Various labor groups in the Philippines held protest actions on Tuesday to commemorate International Human Rights Day and to call for an end to the red-tagging of trade union members and activists.

Local affiliates of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Global Union Federation (GUFs) reiterated laborers' rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining when they gathered at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City and at different Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) offices nationwide.

Other protest activities were also held at Plaza Salamanca, Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola in Manila.

The labor activists also called for the release of detained unionists who were allegedly arrested through trumped-up charges that were crafted in an attempt to silence them.

"Through the practice of 'red-tagging', labor organizations are labelled as legal fronts of an underground armed struggle movement and the arrested activists are routinely alleged of possessing firearms and ammunition planted by state officers to justify fabricated charges," Federation of Free Workers (FFW) vice president Julius Cainglet said in a statement.

The groups also urged Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to ensure that state security forces do not violate the rights of the workers to organize and hold strikes.

They also requested the government to allow the High-Level Tripartite Mission of the International Labor Organization to visit the country and launch a probe on the supposed extrajudicial killings involving 43 workers.

Moreover, they pushed for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao as they reiterated that the police and military have already assured that the security situation in the region has already stabilized.

“We hold that the lifting of martial law will create more jobs and remove potential investors' doubt about setting up businesses in Mindanao. We are also certain that the lifting will contribute to the increase in the volume of foreign and domestic tourists in southern Philippines," said FFW president Sonny Matula.

"We hope, likewise, that this non-extension of martial law will improve the human rights image, and more importantly, the situation of rights defenders such as trade unionists, in the country,” he added.

The Federation of Free Workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno, National Union of Bank Employees, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, National Union of Building and Construction Workers, Public Service Labor Independent Confederation, BPO Industry Employees Network, and the United Filipino Service Workers are among the allies of the ITUC and GUFs in the Philippines. — Dona Magsino/BM, GMA News