US Sen. Bernie Sanders denounces Philippines’ rights record

18-Nov-2019 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

United States Sen. Bernie Sanders, also a 2016 presidential candidate who will run again in the 2020 elections, called out the Philippine government’s recent crackdown on its workers.

“In recent years, we have seen abhorrent human rights abuses by the Philippine government. This repression of trade unionists is a shameful attempt to silence people’s rights and freedoms,” Sanders, said in a tweet Friday night.

“More than ever, we must stand on the side of global human rights,” the tweet read, linking a website post from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

In the past, Sanders had indirectly said that Duterte is an authoritarian leader similar to heads of state in Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

“Well, at least Trump is consistent. Abroad, he has never met a leader of an authoritarian nation (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Philippines) that he hasn’t liked,” the US senator said in a November 2017 tweet using a different verified account.

Political climate

The ITUC report described by Sanders and posted on the organisation’s website on November 5 discusses and condemns “a new wave of police repression of Philippine trade unionists.”

Over 50 activists and civilians were arrested between October 31 and November 1 in Manila and Negros.

Organisations whose offices were raided include Bayan, Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Karapatan, Gabriela, the National Federation of Sugar Workers and the Negros Island Health Integrated Programme. The houses of progressive leaders in Manila and Bacolod City were also searched.

“This latest crackdown occurs amid a broader climate of government repression in the Philippines. The ‘war on drugs’ has been responsible for a reported 27,000 extra-judicial killings since it was launched by President Duterte in 2016,” the report read.

“Both the [International Labour Organisation] and the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have resolved to send high-level missions to probe the human rights situation following widespread reports of extra-judicial killings and repression of trade unions and their members.”

The report said the Philippine government, during an August meeting with ITUC, pledged to investigate the killings of 43 trade unionists but no progress has been reported and an ILO mission to the country has not been accepted.

“Under the cover of being tough on crime, this government is targeting human and trade union rights defenders as part of a deliberate political strategy that relies on the suppression of people’s rights and freedoms,” ITUC general Secretary Sharan Burrow said in the report.

“The international union family will not let this go. We are demanding that the government stop the killing and repression of trade unionists and receive the ILO mission to investigate the situation as a matter of urgency.”

‘Crackdown on people’s organisations’

The recent mass arrest has been described as a “crackdown on people’s organisations” by detained Sen. Leila de Lima.

De Lima on Wednesday urged the Senate to probe state-perpetrated human rights violations against civil society organisations and rights advocates.

Senate Resolution 215 filed by De Lima asks the appropriate Senate committee to investigate the red-tagging and rights abuses allegedly committed by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

The task force is directly under the Office of the President and was formed through Executive Order 70, issued in December 2018. President Rodrigo Duterte serves as the chair, while National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. serves as vice chair.

“NTF-ELCAC was supposedly created to address problems of insurgency by shifting the strategy from a military to a civilian approach. However, according to reports, it has been used for political persecution, harassment and even violation of human rights,” De Lima said in a release.


Category: Philippines

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