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Philippines: Threats to kill labor leaders

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The militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Workers Movement) condemned the harassment, threats and intimidation towards known labor leaders in Cebu, January 18.

The group expressed deep concern over the safety of progressive individuals and their organizations after an unknown number blasted text messages containing outright threats to the activists’ lives and safety.

In the morning of January 17, labor leader Jaime Paglinawan, chairperson of Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo (AMA SUGBO KMU) received texts that he, along with other Cebu leaders and organizers, are targets for the week, most probably to be harmed, because they are “hard-headed.”

The rest of those threatened include Greg Perez and Ronilo Gahator, chair and vice chair of transport group Piston Cebu, and Aldo Serat of ALSA Kontraktwal Cebu, an organization of contractual workers in the province.

Further reports include in the list of threatened individual leaders from the youth and student, urban poor and teachers sectors and even staffers of non-governmental organizations.

“We deplore this cowardly and traitorous act. If anything untoward happens, it is on the government and its troops,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

Labog further asserted that the threatened individuals are not criminals. Paglinawan, he reiterated, is the vice chairperson for the Visayas of KMU and a staunch advocate of workers’ rights. Amid the pandemic, AMA SUGBO had launched campaigns for free mass testing and treatment of COVID-19 and safe workplaces. Their campaigns also included demands for economic aid and subsidy for distressed workers and the jobless.

“People’s livelihoods are in great peril and workers are left with no recourse but to demand accountability and social justice. And Duterte is afraid of protests and resistance, that’s why he is hellbent in silencing dissent and criticism,” Labog added.

KMU asserted that the repression towards the labor movement ultimately aims to railroad anti-worker policies that will benefit big businesses within Duterte’s clique.

“Duterte will unleash the fangs of the ATL and sow state terror nationwide to suck more profit from the blood and sweat of the workers and all toiling people for his gang and masters,” Labog said.
The Anti-Terrorism Law is set to be discussed in Supreme Court oral arguments starting February. The terrorist law is facing 37 petitions questioning its constitutionality.

KMU will file additional complaints at the Commission on Human Rights and Department of Labor and Employment. It will also seek to expedite the High Level Tripartite Mission of the International Labor Organization to investigate the string of attacks against labor leaders and organizations, with the police surveillance of the KMU national headquarters being the latest case.


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