Ferdinand Gaite, president of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), said they have received information that some of their leaders and members have been identified by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) as communist fronts and members.
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Workers stage protest vs red-tagging
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Government employees and militant workers yesterday staged a rally in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) main office in Intramuros, Manila to protest the alleged attempt of the military to link trade unions to communist rebels.

Ferdinand Gaite, president of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), said they have received information that some of their leaders and members have been identified by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) as communist fronts and members.

“This ploy utilizing the military and intelligence groups have long been a practice to quell legitimate dissent. Since the ruling administration cannot and will not address the genuine problems of injustice and inequlity, it will use deceit and repression to silence the workers,” Gaite said.

Gaite said the president of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Employees Association of the Philippines was one of those listed in the NICA report as a communist party member.

Since Duterte assumed the presidency, Gaite said, there have been three illegal arrests of union organizers and several incidents of surveillance and profiling of union leaders in different government agencies.

Gaite said the ongoing harassment of activists was apparently based on Duterte’s order creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Members of the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) also denounced the NICA orientation called by DOLE for its executives.

NICA has been conducting orientation meetings with government agencies as part of Duterte’s directive to end the communist insurgency, KMU said.

According to KMU, NICA is branding legitimate organizations as communist fronts or communist-terrorist organizations to discourage workers from joining or forming unions.

KMU chair Elmer Labog warned DOLE not to be influenced by NICA to formulate and issue guidelines and regulations that would affect the restriction of union membership of workers in all workplaces.               

“Our member unions are legitimate organizations of workers who are advancing legitimate struggles and grievances. Unionism is not terrorism,” Labog said in a statement.

Labog urged Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and other DOLE officials to protect the Filipino workers’ right to form unions and uphold the freedom of association.

“The terrorist-tagging campaign has resulted in actual human rights violations such as illegal arrest and detention, harassment and serious threats to the very lives of our members and their families,” Labog noted.

He said KMU has documented cases of members who were forced to resign from their posts in their unions and revoke their membership.

Labog said KMU is filing complaints of red-tagging and terrorist-tagging in violation of workers’ rights provided in the Constitution and the ILO Convention 87 before the Commission on Human Rights and the International Labor Organization. 

“Hopefully the plight of Filipino workers will be part of the ILO conference in June and the Philippine government will be called,” he said.

Labog said the Filipino people and the international community should be made aware of the problem affecting the labor sector.

FERDINAND GAITE
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