Philippine labor

DOLE Secretary Bello urged to act on killings, arrests of labor leaders

Jairo Bolledo

LABOR SECRETARY. DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III during the 32nd ASEAN Summit.

Presidential Photo

Kilusang Mayo Uno says DOLE had been doing nothing to address the attacks against labor leaders

After the simultaneous arrests of labor leaders in Central and Southern Luzon on Tuesday, March 30, a labor group urged Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to act on the spate of arrests and latest killings against labor organizers. 

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) secretary general Jerome Adonis said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had been doing nothing to address the attacks against labor leaders. 

Ang problema rito ay wala kaming naririnig sa DOLE kahit anong proteksyon. Kaya malaking hamon ito sa DOLE para gumawa sila ng mga decisive na hakbang. Kasi at the end of the day, lalabas na wala silang ginawa para proteksyunan ang mga manggagawa na nagiging biktima ng mga ganitong karumal-dumal [na krimen],” Adonis said during a press conference on Wednesday, March 31.

(The problem here is we hear nothing from DOLE, not even protection. This is indeed a big challenge for them to do decisive moves. Because at the end of the day, it will look like they did nothing to protect workers who became victims of gruesome crimes.)

On March 28, labor leader Dandy Miguel of Pamantik-KMU was gunned down while riding his motorcycle in Calamba, Laguna. He was killed by unknown assailants. 

Two days later, on March 30, activists in Central and Southern Luzon were arrested in simultaneous operations

Joseph Canlas of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas was arrested in Mexico, Pampanga. In Banban, Tarlac, Pol Viuya of BAYAN Central Luzon and May Arcilla of Karapatan were arrested.

As of the afternoon of March 31, Arcilla was released for further investigation, according to KMU. 

Meanwhile, Adonis also called on Bello to do his job and order an independent investigation. 

Secretary Bello, gampanan mo ‘yung tungkulin mo bilang kalihim ng DOLE. Magkaroon kayo ng independyenteng imbestigasyon dito sa pagkamatay ni kasamang Dandy Miguel. At sa marami pang iba katulad nitong mga pag-aaresto na ito,” Adonis said. 

(Secretary Bello, do your duties as the secretary of DOLE. Order an independent investigation into the killing of Dandy Miguel and other victims.)

The labor leader also recommended that DOLE condemn the attacks.

Dapat kagyat, mag-anunsyo ang DOLE. Maglabas siya ng statement, pasinungalingan niya. Protektahan niya ang mga manggagawa. Dapat ang mga organizers at leaders ay malaya. Malaya naming ma-exercise ang aming karapatan sa pakikipag-unyon,” the KMU secretary general said.

(DOLE should announce immediately and release a statement condemning the actions against workers. To protect them. To say the organizers and leaders should be free – free to exercise our rights to be part of a union.) 

In a text message to Rappler, Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they already referred the case to the Department of Justice. He also said they reached out to the Supreme Court to address the issue. 

“We also wrote the Acting Chief Justice Bernabe, requesting for a dialogue in view of the recent arrest and death of trade union leaders and members following operations of the PNP together with other concerned government agencies to discuss measures to further protect and promote the workers’ constitutionally guaranteed right to self organization and freedom of association,” Bello said. 

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.