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Call for international day of action on Nov. 16 against trade union repression and political killings in the Philippines

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By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
20 October 2006

The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) calls on its participating organizations and on all progressive forces throughout the world to join and support the International Day of Action Against Trade Union Repression and Political Killings in the Philippines on November 16, 2006. This event is aimed at condemning the intensified attacks being carried out by the government of Gloria Arroyo against the Filipino workers and expressing solidarity and support to the struggle of the workers and the rest of the Filipino people for self-determination, democracy, social justice and development.

The Philippines is now considered second only to Colombia as the most dangerous place for trade unionists. Since Arroyo became president in 2001, sixty-four trade union leaders and organizers have been murdered in extra-judicial executions. They are part of the more than 750 victims of political killings of unarmed legal activists perpetrated by government forces.

Some 982 cases of human rights violations victimizing 77,028 workers have been documented by the independent Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR). The violations include assaults on the picket line, illegal arrest and detention, disappearances, grave threats, abduction and various forms of harassment and intimidation.

Among those killed were union leaders in multinational corporations and local big business establishments notably Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna, union president in Nestle Philippines and Ricardo “Ka Ric” Ramos, union president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU).

Member of Congress Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran–veteran labor leader, May First Movement (KMU) Chairman Emeritus and former Chairperson and current Honorary Chairperson of the ILPS–has been illegally detained since he was arrested on February 25, 2006, a day after Arroyo declared a “state of national emergency”. He was arrested on trumped-up charges dating back two decades ago that had been previously quashed by Philippine courts.

In its recent 115th assembly in Geneva, the Inter-Parliamentary Union passed a resolution expressing concern over his arbitrary detention and calling on the Philippine government for his immediate release or at the very least for his transfer to the custody of the Philippine House of Representatives like his progressive congressional colleagues who had also been framed up in the same false charge of rebellion. We must demand the complete and immediate release of Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. The injustice done to him is an in injustice to the entire working class which is deprived of its elected representative and its voice in Congress.

To gain political advantage over the legal opposition and to serve her interest in bureaucratic corruption, Arroyo has long pushed the US policy of “neoliberal globalization” and “labor flexibility” in the Philippines in order to aggravate and deepen the exploitation of the working people in the Philippines. She has promoted the denationalization, liberalization, privatization of state assets and deregulation of the Philippine economy in order to expand the interest of the US and other foreign monopolies.

She openly declares that her war against the workers and the Filipino people is part of the wider war of terror instigated by US imperialism to keep the world safe for big business. She has vilified as “economic terrorists” the workers who act concertedly to demand better wage and living conditions. She was among the first presidents of US puppet states to declare subservience to George W. Bush’s so-called “war on terror”. Bush “rewarded” her shameless obeisance by calling her government a “major non-NATO ally” and naming the Philippines as “the second front in the war on terror”.

Fact-finding missions by independent international bodies have confirmed the rampant trade union and human rights violations committed by government forces in the Philippines. The extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances and other human rights abuses have generated international condemnation and outrage from such bodies as Amnesty International, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the World Council of Churches and many others.

The International Day of Protest on November 16 coincides with the second anniversary of the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre where seven striking workers and supporters were killed and scores more were injured in a violent dispersal of the strike at Hacienda Luisita by police, army troops and private armed goons on November 16, 2004.

What you can do on November 16, 2006 among others:

a) Hold a protest action in front of the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country. b) Send a message of solidarity and support to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), c) Send a protest letter to the Arroyo government. d) Ask your government to stop giving financial aid to the Arroyo government because such aid is used to attack the Filipino workers and people under the guise of anti-terrorism.