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Between truth and lies: Infiltration and red-tagging

Tripartism and social dialogue are keys in maintaining industrial peace. Thus, the government through the Department of Labor and  Employment (DOLE) along with other national government agencies (NGAs), business organizations, trade unions and workers associations discuss and negotiate issues of common interest relating to economics and social policies.

Predicated on this, focusing to the needs of the labor sector and its social partner, through good governance, dialogue and partnership is the government’s response in maintaining industrial peace.

But what is the role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in executing programs of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), enumerating among others, provisions and salient features of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 towards the labor sector?

Not enough and contented, the military also invokes Executive Order (EO) 70 series of 2018. An EO signed December 4, institutionalizes a “wholeof-nation approach” in attainment of the collective aspiration of the people to enjoy inclusive and sustainable peace.

President Duterte created NTF-ELCAC in December 2018 as his administration’s definitive vehicle that mobilizes the entire bureaucracy, its networks and resources to crush the 50-year-old communist rebellion, one of the key campaigns promises together with a labor issue, ending labor practice on contractualization or ‘endo’.

Is this his final gambit to end insurgency? Your guess is as good as mine.

Back to the workers’ issues. In the industrial and business sector, the AFP, along with various government agencies, employers’ and employees’ representatives and other stakeholders conducted a virtual awareness forum, entitled - Between Truth and Lies: CPP-NPA Exploitation of Industrial and Business Sector for Resource Generation.”

The military is conducting the program for both labor and the business sectors, whom the armed forces considered most vulnerable, in the so-called communist infiltrated areas to raise awareness on the exploitation being done by the communist terrorist groups (CTGs).

What’s the score so far? The profiling and terrorist-tagging of progressive workers’ organizations including a network of workers’ unions in the government is tantamount to union busting by the government, stated Annie Geron, President of Public Services Labor Independent Confederation.

“The supposed protector of trade unions rights in the public sector has become its own tormentor”, Geron added.

The relentless arrest and imprisonment of union leaders in the so-called communist infiltrated areas of Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region allegedly perpetrated by the agents of the state are no longer imaginary but real, added the fiery statement released by the Nagkaisa labor coalition.

Labor unions in the country continuously conduct organizing drives without let-up to the business locators inside the export processing zones (EPZs).

“The right of workers to self-organization is an inherent right”, asserts the Nagkaisa labor coalition.

As long as issues on core labor standards, a set of four fundamental, universal and indivisible human rights are not met, workers are easy targets of recruitment by the socalled enemies of the state particularly the CTGs of the CPP-NPA.

Among the exploited labor issues and concerns being cited as the root of all problems, are issues on general labor standards such as underpayment of wages, non-payment or non-provision of wage related benefits and leave credits, issue on occupational safety and health, like non-provision of safe working environment and non-provision of welfare facilities.