CHR urges action on missing Mindanao labor organizer

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
CHR urges action on missing Mindanao labor organizer

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday called for prompt action on the disappearance of a Mindanao-based labor organizer who was allegedly abducted by state agents last month. 

“The CHR is deeply alarmed that William Lariosa, a veteran labor organizer is yet to be found despite efforts from various human rights groups to identify his whereabouts,” the commission said in a statement. 

Lariosa, a member of the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), was allegedly abducted at gunpoint by members of the Philippine Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion in Quezon town, Bukidnon on April 10. 

Groups said Lariosa had faced threats and harassment prior to his disappearance. 

The CHR stressed that arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of liberty are grave human rights violations as stipulated under the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. Some of these acts may include illegal arrests, detention, or abduction. 

The commission said it is committed to conducting an independent investigation into the disappearance of Lariosa, and is coordinating with his family and groups to expedite the search. 

It also urged those with any leads on Lariosa’s location to reach out to investigation teams. 

“We echo the call of the labor workforce in urging the Philippine government to address the recurring vulnerabilities that Filipino workers face on a daily basis and to provide accessible avenues for them to express their grievances,” the CHR said. 

“We hope that the State will take decisive actions in confronting this matter before another case of a missing labor organizer arises,” it added. 

Union leaders and labor organizers are frequently targeted by red-tagging, the practice of accusing individuals or groups as fighters or supporters of the country’s communist insurgency. 

Last week, the Supreme Court declared red-tagging as a threat to people’s life, liberty and security, and could warrant the issuance of a protection order.

Following the landmark ruling, human rights groups urged the Marcos administration to adopt measures to stop red-tagging and abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a body notorious for vilifying activists and government critics. 

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