The purpose of the conference is to provide an opportunity for advocates of justice and peace in the Philippines and those involved in the global human rights campaign to gather, network, and deepen their understanding and analysis of the current human rights situation. Participants will identify campaign strategies and ways to collaborate, and accompany the Filipino people in their continuing journey towards peace and human rights.
The conference will be preceded by a fact-finding and solidarity mission from July 16-22 to communities most severely affected by military operations and human rights violations in Mindanao and other parts of the country.
Trade unions and other social justice organizations in the Philippines conduct fact- finding and solidarity missions with international delegations to help draw attention to the harassment, exploitation and violence the Filipino people experience. The solidarity missions will use the findings to help lobby and inform relevant international governments and organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations.
CUPE led a 10-person delegation to the Philippines in 2013 to visit with our Global Justice Fund partner the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). We participated in the International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) with COURAGE entitled “Against the Killings and Repression of Public Sector Workers in the Philippines”.
After three years, and a serious escalation of attacks targeting our partners, 2016 is an important year for CUPE to visit our partner organizations to gain a better understanding of the changing conditions.
Since 2013, COURAGE has experienced a serious escalation of threats, harassment and surveillance of their leaders and organizers. CUPE sent a letter to the President expressing our concern regarding the escalating attacks on public sector trade unionists, organizers and national COURAGE staff and has further called for an immediate stop to the harassment and surveillance of COURAGE leaders and members by police agents and the Philippine military https://cupe.ca/node/58148/register.
In the southern Mindanao region of the Philippines where the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) has a strong presence, five members of the indigenous Lumad community, including the director of a tribal school, were killed when the military presence increased in the region in August 2015. Twenty-five Lumad schools have been forced to halt operations due to military harassment and at least 84 attacks on 57 schools have displaced and disrupted the education of over 3,000 Lumad children.
CUPE, with several other organizations including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), signed onto the Open Letter from Canadians that was printed in the mainstream press in the Philippines during the APEC summit in December 2015 philippinereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/11/Open-Letter-to-PNoy.jpg.
The CUPE National delegation includes Sister Judy Henley, Secretary-Treasurer CUPE Saskatchewan, Sister Tiffany MacLellan, CUPE 4600 in Ottawa, Brother Limson Mestito, CUPE 500 in Winnipeg, Sister Kelti Cameron, CUPE National International Solidarity staff and Doug Booker, coordinator Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP). Brother Kamal Gautam is representing CUPE 15.