A culture of impunity translated into extra-judicial killings (EJK) and other forms of human rights violations against leaders and labor organizers continue under the ‘tuwid na daan’, a coalition of major trade unions and labor organizations in the country, Nagkaisa!, said in a statement on the eve of the celebration of International Human Rights Day.
Since 2011, Nagkaisa! is engaged in dialogues with the Aquino administration on several labor issues, including some 62 unsolved cases of EJKs involving labor.
Nagkaisa! said the most recent in the cases of unsolved EJKs was the murder of a labor organizer in Negros Occidental. Rolando Pango, a full time organizer of Partido Manggagawa (PM) was gunned down in Binalbagan town in Negros Occidental on Novermber 29, 2014.
“Prior to his death, Pango was deeply involved in both the agrarian and labor disputes in Hacienda Salud, a 135-hectare sugar plantation in Barangay Rumirang, Isabela leased and managed by Manuel Lamata,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.
Pango was instrumental in organizing the plantation workers in Hacienda Salud who in June applied the land under CARPER coverage. Salud workers has also filed of a case of illegal dismissal before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) against Lamata for unlawful termination 41 workers.
PM and Nagkaisa is calling on both the national and local governments to render immediate justice to this case.
Josua Mata, Secretary General of Alliance of Progressive Labor–Sentro, said Nagkaisa will be raising this issue before the Tripartite Industrial Council (TIPC) and the DOJ panel investigating the EJKs.
“Like Ruby, solving cases of EJKs in the country is a slow-grind,” said Mata.
Before Pango, another PM organizer, Victoriano Embang, leader of Maria Cecilia Farm Workers Association (MACFAWA) in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental was also killed on December 29, 2012. A failed assassination attempt against his brother, Anterio Embang, followed few months later, February 28, 2013.
A Negrense himself, Magtubo said Negros remains a ‘labor hotspot’ because of strong resistance by landlords to agrarian reform and their outmoded serf-type treatment of their laborers.
“Perhaps this regional feudal context has escaped the eyes of the labor department and the national government. Or they simply don’t care,” added Magtubo.
Aside from EJKs, Nagkaisa! is also alarmed at the resurgence of other forms of human rights violations.
Last October, Antonio Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper, was arrested on trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The union and the management were then in the thick of labor dispute when the case was file against Quizon.
But the most widespread of human rights violations, Nagkaisa! said, is the violation of labor’s right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
“The onslaught of state-sanctioned contractualization schemes have effectively disarmed workers of their ability to defend themselves, through their unions, against many forms of abuse and exploitation,” concluded Magtubo.