Mayen Jaymalin – The Philippine Star
February 14, 2022 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday advised workers and trade groups anew to file criminal complaints against those who “red-tag” them.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said red-tagging is punishable under the Revised Penal Code and other laws which criminalize any act of persecution committed against an identifiable group on political grounds.
“Trade union leaders and members are assured of government’s promotion and protection of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and welfare,” Bello said in a statement.
The labor chief issued the statement in reaction to the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s call for the Philippine government to probe extrajudicial killings of trade unionists and provide an updated report on the investigation.
He stressed that legal and institutional mechanisms protect workers’ constitutional rights and civil liberties.
He cited as proof of the effectiveness of these mechanisms in a recent case where the Regional Trial Court in Baguio City granted a petition for a writ of amparo and issued an order prohibiting the police from making social media posts and putting up tarps branding four student activists as “communist-terrorists.”
Bello also assured the ILO that reports of violence and intimidation against trade unionists are being addressed.
“Reports or allegations of workers’ rights violations are acted on by the DOLE’s national and regional tripartite monitoring bodies (RTMBs). They help ensure the full and swift investigation and resolution of the alleged acts of killings, harassment, and abduction of trade union leaders and members through the active involvement of workers’ and employers’ representatives in case monitoring,” he said.
Bello added that cases have been filed and investigations are progressing on reported trade union rights violations.
He noted that there are functional administrative mechanisms and legal remedies that monitor and address cases of violations of labor and trade union rights.
At least 60 cases of extrajudicial killings and attempted murder under the present administration are under close watch by the monitoring bodies, according to the DOLE secretary.
“Out of this number, 20 are pending with the courts, and the rest are progressing under regular criminal investigation,” he said.
He urged trade unions and workers to report violations of workers’ rights to the RTMBs.
Although RTMBs have no investigative powers, Bello said they help ensure the full and swift resolution of alleged acts of killings, harassment and abduction of trade union leaders and members.