Blood spills, harassment against workers continue in Duterte admin

Apr. 28, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A labor rights organization on Friday said that 14 workers were killed in what it described as a “politically motivated” killings and labor harassments continued under the Duterte administration.


The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) said the number of slain and harrassed workers, including other work-related deaths have been doubled since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency.


“The killings and intensified militarization smack of the Duterte administration’s desire for peace. It is a complete paradox that this administration says it wants to uplift the poor and marginalized, to give them better life, when farmer advocates and innocent workers suspected as rebels are killed. Same for the victims of war on drugs whose death were swift, leaving wailing and restive family members,” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director, in a statement sent to media.


The CTUHR has attributed the “restive” state of country’s workers over “absence of significant change in their condition that has not come under the Duterte administration.”


In particular, it documented the case of Alexander Ceballos, 54, who was shot dead on Jan. 20, in his house at Barangay Pandanon Silos, Murcia, Negros Occidental. CTUHR said that Ceballos was killed by a gun for hire by political clan in province’s Salvador Benedicto town.


“Ceballos, a regional council member of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), and farmworkers organizer in Murcia and Salvador Benedicto, was with his wife and children when the gunmen fired three shots before escaping with the two companions on their separate motorbikes,” according to the labor rights group.


Apart from Ceballos, the CTUHR also documented the killing of Glenn Ramos, a construction worker who served as a Bayan Muna coordinator in Compostela Valley. Ramos was earlier accused by the military as a communist rebel.


Also, Joel Lising, an organizer and leader of Pagkakaisa ng mga Tri-Wheels Organization para sa Kabuhayan or PATOK in District 1 of Manila was killed for opposing the Manila local government’s plan to phase-out three-wheeled vehicles.


The CTUHR claims that workers were killed using an Oplan Tokhang” style. It also scored the military for tagging workers as rebel supporters such as in the case of two small-scale miners in Agusan del Norte and three rubber plantation workers in Basilan. The group said that the military killed the workers in two separate incidents after they perceived the workers as NPA supporters.


Moreover, the CTUHR said that it received reports that in Mindanao that during the AFP’s anti-drug symposiums, “the military discourage workers from joining unions especially those that are affiliated with the militant labor group, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), claiming that the labor center was an NPA front.”


KMU-Southern Mindanao Region also reported that “union leaders are harassed, as soldiers summon them, similar to those in drugs watch-list, to a meeting in the barangay center.”


Apart from the killings and harassments, 57 other cases were monitored by the CTUHR, including attempted killings, arrests and detention, assault on picketlines and others.


“As the world marks the first Labor Day under this administration, Filipino workers need only to remember the promises that catapulted President Duterte to power and to struggle, to collect what is due them,” Arago said. (

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