Thursday, July 16, 2020

Workers groups file petition vs Terror Act at Supreme Court

Workers’ groups led by the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno filed today a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to stop the implementation of the just enacted Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act for being inimical to workers’ interests and for being unconstitutional.

They filed a “Certiorari and Prohibition, with Urgent Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction,” with the Office of the President, Senate of the Philippines, and House of Representatives a respondents, for committing “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in passing into law the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.”

“The greatest concern is that the unrestrained power given to the executive department by the assailed law would be an instrument to terrorize the ordinary citizens who are not terrorists -- or be used to aggravate the situation of those who are already victims of terrorism,” said Atty Sonny Matula, chaiperson of Nagkaisa, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and lead counsel for the petitioners.

Matula said that there are provisions that infringed on the people’s constitutional rights to due process and seriously threaten and cause a chilling effect on the people’s exercise of their freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association, right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances specifically among the ranks of the workers.

The petition noted that law enforcers have been harsh with the workers and security forces are actively involved in the suppression of union organizing as if unionism is still a criminal act as in the Spanish colonial times.

Early this year, Nagkaisa and KMU have already called on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and President Rodrigo Duterte to sanction the Central Luzon Police Regional Director for violating labor rights with the implementation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concerns Office (JIPCO) to stop what it terms as “radical union infiltration” in industrial zones in Central Luzon, even without the necessary clear implementing rules.

The petitioners said that “it is imperative that the Constitution must be defended by the Supreme Court from the assault of an outlandishly unconstitutional act of Congress including the unlawful taking of authority from the judiciary and the delegation of the same power to the executive Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).” The Terror Act created the ATC.

Last year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) in its 108th Session Report, noted the continuous harassment of workers relative to their right to organize unions and the killings of trade union leaders that may have been perpetrated by the employers as well as by the State forces.

Signing the petition are Atty. Matula of the Federation of Free Workers, trade union leaders of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition namely: Annie Enriquez Geron, President of The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Daniel Edralin, Secretary General of National Union of Workers in Hotel and Restaurant and Allied Industry, Renato Magtubo, Chairman of the Partido Manggagawa, Deobel Deocares, President of the National Federation of Labor, Danilo Laserna, VP For Education/Head Operations, FFW, Julius H. Cainglet, Co-Chairperson of the Church-Labor Conference and FFW VP for Advocacy, Ruel Polon, President of TF Logistic Philippines Workers Union; Elmer Labog, Chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Eleanor De Guzman of the Workers’ Resistance Against Tyranny & For Human Rigths, Pascual Pausal of Kilos Na Manggagawa; and trade union leaders of the UNI Global Union-Philippine Liaison Council, namely, Jesus Exequiel Nidea, President and Roland Dela Cruz, Executive Vice President); and Rolando Librojo, convenor of Kilusang Artikulo Trese. Atty. General Du is collaborating counsel.

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