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Philippines: 57 labour & civil society activists arrested & detained in police & military raids

On the evening of 31 October 2019, 57 members of labour and civil society organisations were arrested and detained in simultaneous military and police raids in Manila and Bacolod in the Philippines. Among those arrested are trade unionists, labour activists and environmental campaigners. 

Local authorities allege the activists are suspected of being members of a rebel group and have charged them with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. However, local and international rights groups have condemned the charges as being bogus and say the raids are part of a wider crackdown aimed at suppressing civic space and the movement for workers' rights. Calls are being made for the activists' release. 

This is a developing story and we will continue to monitor the situation and update as we receive further information. 

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5 November 2019

Philippines: ITUC condemns 'wave of police repression' of trade unionists, warns of further raids

Author: International Trade Union Confederation

"Philippines: government crackdown targets unions", 

The ITUC has condemned a new wave of police repression of Philippine trade unionists. The offensive was launched when police simultaneously raided three premises of human rights and trade union organisations, arresting and detaining 57 people members of labour and civil society organisations. Repression operations are ongoing.

In the evening of 31 October 2019, bus workers were holding a union meeting in Bacolod city, capital of the province of Negros Occidental, when the building was raided. Elsewhere in the city, eight people, including four children, were held at gunpoint by police. Witnesses there reported that non-uniformed men entered the property and planted firearms. All 43 adults arrested were charged with the illegal possession of firearms.

Further raids are ongoing, and more trade unionists could be targeted in the coming hours and days...

...“Under the cover of being tough on crime, this government is targeting human and trade union rights defenders as part of a deliberate political strategy that relies on the suppression of people’s rights and freedoms,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow...

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3 November 2019

Philippines: Local & intl. groups condemn arrests of activists & say evidence planted is 'fake'

Author: Rappler

"Labor, rights groups condemn 'tokhang-style' raids of activists' offices", 2 November 2019

Local and international groups have sounded the alarm over the police raids of militant groups' offices that led to the arrest of 58 activists in Manila and Bacolod.

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment [and international environmental and rights groups]... in a statement ... raised what it called the "illegal arrests" reminiscent of the questionable process employed in President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial drug war... urged US authorities to support investigations into the ongoing human rights crisis... [and] asked the US Congress to withdraw its military and police aid from the Filipino military and police until they cease their relentless human rights atrocities...

“Kalikasan’s office itself confronted constant surveillance and raid attempts over the past month. It is now very apparent that there is a drive by the Duterte regime to churn out fake warrants and plant fake evidence to justify the mass arrests of critics and dissenters,” said... [Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan international network coordinator]...

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1 November 2019

Philippines: UNI Global Union condemns police raids & arrest of trade unionist Anne Krueger

Author: UNI Global Union

"UNI Global Union condemns police raids and arrest of Anne Krueger in the Philippines", 1 November 2019

UNI strongly condemns the arrest and detention of 57 members of labor and civil society organisations in the Philippines ...Included in the arrests was Mary-Anne Krueger (known as Anne) who is an organiser for the contact centre workers’ association BIEN in the city of Bacolod. Anne and BIEN have been active in working with UNI Global Union in the Filipino contact centre sector.

The home of Anne Krueger... was raided by armed Filipino police at 9pm on the 31st of October...

General Secretary of UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman said, “We call on the Filipino government to immediately release Anne Krueger and the other 57 members of civil society and labor organisations, and to drop the trumped-up charges against these democracy and human rights activists”.

Ms. Hoffman went onto say, “We hold the Government of the Philippines responsible for the physical integrity of Anne and other individuals being forcibly detained”...

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31 October 2019

Philippines: Mass arrests of activists in simultaneous police & military raids

Author: Marchel P. Espina, Rappler

"Authorities arrest 56 in Bacolod crackdown on militant groups", 31 October 2019

Local authorities here arrested 56 persons suspected of being members of the communist rebel group New People’s Army and rescued 6 minors in simultaneous raids of the offices of 4 progressive organizations early Thursday night, October 31.

Armed with 4 search warrants... [local authorities] swooped in to the offices of party-list group Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), and Gabriela in Barangay Bata, and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) at Barangay Taculing, and another office in Barangay 33.

Law enforcers have accused the progressive groups of being “legal fronts” of the rebel movement... The raiding teams also recovered high-powered firearms and an explosive at the offices...

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