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Stand up for human and labour rights in the Philippines
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Dear Mr. President, I am writing to express my concern about the escalating attacks on public sector trade unionists, organizers and national staff working with the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE). We further call for the immediate stop to the harassment and surveillance of COURAGE leaders and members by police agents and the Philippine military. Beginning April 21, and as recently as June 28, 2015, members and officers of COURAGE received letters accusing them of being leaders and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) operating in their respective agencies through their unions. Others have received visits at work and home from individuals identifying themselves as military personnel who are operating with the clear intent to harass and intimidate. I understand these activities are likely a calculated attempt to undermine public sector workers asserting their basic human and trade union rights, and campaigning for a national minimum wage, and against contracting out and privatization. It is extremely worrisome that the Philippines, which aspires to work globally on development, poverty alleviation and security, would allow those working to address these issues through greater economic and social justice to be subjected to threats, harassment and intimidation. We respectfully request that: 1. The government immediately form an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, churches, concerned government agencies, and the Commission on Human Rights. This team will look into the threats, harassment, intimidation and surveillance against these progressive trade unionists and activists. 2. The military stop the labelling and targeting of people’s organizations as “front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.” 3. The Philippine government eliminate its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians. 4. The Philippine government respect that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all major human rights instruments, and is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions. 5. The Philippine government recognize it is a signatory to the International Labour Organization Conventions, and is bound to uphold these conventions recognizing and protecting workers’ rights to join unions, enter into collective bargaining, be protected from discrimination, and many other rights. Thank you very much for your attention to this urgent matter. Sincerely,
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