On the AFP’s continuing vilification campaign against KMU and its affiliate unions

KMU Southern Mindanao Region

This statement is a reaction to the article dated August 23, 2019 and published in the Philippine News Agency website titled: “Labor union splits with KMU, forms new group.”

As a labor center and member of the International Trade Union Confederation, Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao sets the record straight that the reported disaffiliation of Musahamat Workers Labor Union (MWLU) and oath-taking of a new set of officers is military-instigated, therefore obviating the workers’ right to organize and right to collectively bargain protected under the ILO Conventions.

There is more than meets the eye in the photo now being strutted by the 71st IB online in which they claim victory that the former officials of a KMU-affiliated banana workers’ local union have left KMU and supposedly formed an “independent” union. This supposed “independence” and the media spectacle the AFP hopes they will achieve out of it came at great cost to these lowly banana workers.

Last February 27, 2019, the union’s President, Vice President, and its Secretary were abducted by the elements of the 71st IB of Philippine Army and were forced to admit as supporters of New People’s Army after being tortured by the military forces. After the abduction, the soldiers under 71st IBPA were relentless in threatening the members of MWLU that they will either be killed or imprisoned if they will not disaffiliate from KMU. In 2015, these officers bravely filed a complaint to the International Labour Organization decrying military harassment. 

They were called by the AFP to the company headquarters in which a staged press conference awaited them. Laid out in front of them were firearms and subversive documents. The union officers were made to admit they were NPA members.

The abduction and threat to the survival of their person and their families coerced their disaffiliation. There was nothing independent about it.

As far as we are concerned, the lives of these workers are under threat. The continuing rabid anti-KMU campaign of the AFP bolsters the interest of the capitalists and undermines workers’ rights. Since Duterte came to power, more than 40 workers have been killed due to their involvement in workers’ activities.

We condemn the issuance of Executive Order 70 of Pres. Duterte and the AFP and PNP Joint Campaign Plan Kapanatagan 2019-2022 that maliciously tags progressive organizations like KMU as communist supporters. This policy has led to massive summary killings and rights abuses in the country.

Considering this butchery, it comes as no surprise that the country was listed as Top 10 worst countries around the world for workers.

We assert that military intervention in all labor-related activities is an utter violation of the rights of the workers to freely organize themselves as guaranteed under International Labor Organization Convention 87, specifically under Article 3.2 “The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof.”

The red-tagging, vilification, trumped-up charges, and killings are all patterned after the Red Scare campaign of United States of America that was implemented in the 1920’s.

By conjuring the communist bogey to suppress the militant trade union movement, Duterte is acting as the capitalist’s most obedient tool.

Yet we continue to expose the abuses of this regime even as we face repression every step of the way.

The suppression campaign of Duterte’s government would not give higher wages and benefits to the workers, land for the farmers, and social services to the people. It is evident that the Duterte government is a lapdog of US and Chinese imperialists.

By toying with pro-capitalist economic and political policy that pushes the workers deeper into poverty and insecurity, Duterte will ultimately fail to silence the wrath of the majority of the Filipino people. #

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) is an independent labour center promoting genuine, militant and patriotic trade unionism. It is genuine because it recognizes the struggle between labor and capital and upholds the legitimate interests of the working class; militant because it relies on the workers collective struggle in defending trade union and democratic rights; and patriotic because it seeks to end imperialist domination and control over the Philippines.