Education International has written to the President of the Philippines following an urgent resolution adopted at the 5th World Congress calling on the government to immediately put a stop to extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances.
The letter to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also urges her government to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible.
More than 1000 activists fighting to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipinos have been assassinated or made to disappear since 2001. The victims include nine teachers who dedicated their lives to education and to the promotion of trade union and human rights.
The content of EI’s letter is reproduced below:
Her Illustrious Excellency
The President of the Philippines
Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Brussels, 6 August 2007
Your Excellency :
I am writing to you on behalf of Education International, the Global Union representing education workers worldwide, to express our great concern with the situation of civil liberties and trade union rights in the Philippines. Evidence to that is the fact that 2,000 teachers from 160 countries around the world, meeting for the 5th EI World Congress (Berlin, Germany, July 22nd-26th , 2007) unanimously adopted an urgent resolution calling on your government to immediately put a stop to the extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances and to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for these acts.
Education International is appalled to learn that more than 1000 activists fighting to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipinos have been assassinated or made to disappear since 2001. Sadly, we note that the victims include nine teachers who dedicated their lives to education and to the promotion of trade union and human rights. Education workers throughout the world mourn for our colleagues who have fallen victim to violence against trade unionists: Danilo Hagosojos; Gloria Casuga; Joan Lingkuran; Jose Maria Cui; Leima Fortu; Napoleon Pornasdoro; Rodriga Apolinar; Rodrigo Catayong and Vitoria Samonte.
It is deplorable that the perpetrators of violence against trade unionists and activists have not been identified. The ensuing sense of impunity prevents the free exercise of trade unions rights. We appreciate the constituting of an independent Commission to address media and activists killings. However, the conclusions presented leave much to be desired, particularly when it is claimed that “due to lack of cooperation from the activist groups, not enough evidence was presented before the Commission to allow it to pinpoint and eventually recommend prosecution of the persons ultimately responsible for the killings”. It is not the responsibility of the trade unions and activist groups to present evidence against perpetrators. It is an inherent and inescapable responsibility of the State to make sure that proper investigations are carried out and that perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice.
Your government declared at the 96th International Labour Organization Conference, held last May in Geneva, Switzerland, that it had taken concrete steps to address the killings, including attempts to prosecute the guilty parties. Education International asks you to live up to those words and to spare no effort to ensure that all instances of violence against trade unionists are properly investigated and that any evidence of impunity is firmly combated. In compliance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98, ratified by the Philippines in 1953, your government must ensure the full and free exercise of trade union rights and the accompanying civil liberties.
Education International is guided by the ideals of democracy, human rights and social justice. It is our firm belief that if effective steps are taken to put into place transparent social dialogue, and if trade union and human rights are fully respected, a better future awaits Philippine citizens. Therefore, Education International urges your government to immediately put a stop to the extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances of trade union activists and to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for these acts. Philippine workers should be able to exercise their rights in a climate of complete freedom and security from violence and threats. We welcome your positive response.
Fred van Leeuwen