Authoritarianism and liberal democracy are two distinct form of governance, yet workers under both circumstances suffer different degrees of human rights violations. Democracy and human rights, in other words, are permanent demands and agenda that workers will be fighting for in either condition of elite governance.
We remember how workers and their trade unions were supressed during the dark days of martial law, 47 years ago today. But it is also important to recall the resistance and heroism the workers’ movement played during those turbulent years until the end of the Marcos dictatorship. Then the struggles that never stopped even under the post-martial law/post-Edsa regimes.
Today, therefore, is also a good day to ask: When will workers stop fighting for those agenda?
Workers did fight before because democracy was lacking and state violence was an everyday bill. We fight today because democracy was still wanting while chronic poverty and inequality remain.
Accordingly, workers will be fighting any plan by the administration to bring back martial law or re-establish dictatorship, alongside with the campaigns for job security, living wage, freedom of association, and deeper political reforms. And we are aware of the fact that winning these agenda is more difficult under the Duterte regime where the struggle for labor and human rights are taken as rebellion initiated by state enemies.
There are reasons to worry about the dangers faced by human rights defenders (HRDs) in this country today, including those who are involved in trade union organizing. Several trade union organizers have already been killed in EJK manner of executions. There is also an on-going red-tagging of unions being undertaken by the military nationwide, most especially in hot spot areas like EPZA’s and mining communities. Several picket lines have also been dispersed violently by combined private and state security forces in the last three years.
Today we join the human rights community led by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and In Defense of Human Rights (I-Defend) in demanding #StopTheAssault against HRDs and the Filipino people.
We condemn, in strongest terms, acts of state violence in the same way as we reject and demand the scrapping of official policies like red-tagging of trade unions and other HRDs working for the realization of a life of dignity and human rights for all.
21 September 2019