DOLE ‘unofficially’ welcomes ILO group to probe alleged deaths in labor sector

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is preparing to accept a high-level mission from the International Labour Organization (ILO), which is expected to probe the alleged mass killing of local trade unionists.

Last month, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III issued Administrative Order 49-2020 creating the technical working group (TWG) for the said initiative.

The TWG will be led by Labor Undersecretary Claro A. Arellano; and vice chairman, Labor Assistant Secretary Benjo M. Benavidez.

Its members include representatives from the National Labor Relations Commission, National Conciliation and Mediation Board, International Labor Affairs Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Relations.

The TWG will be tasked to lead preparations for the arrival of the ILO mission that will cover the integration of the recommendations of the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards to local policies, as well as reviewing the terms of reference of the mission.


ILO earlier requested the Philippines to accept the mission after Filipino labor leaders alleged during the 2019 International Labor Conference (ILC) that there were at least 43 cases of labor-related killings in the Philippines.

In an interview, Benavidez told the BusinessMirror that the creation of the TWG is already an unofficial acceptance of the ILO mission.

“There will be an actual acceptance once we send an official letter [to ILO about this],” Benavidez said.

Benavidez did not disclose when the official letter would be sent to ILO.

DOLE earlier said it will accept the mission once it completes the validation of the 43 cases raised by labor groups at the ILC.

The number of cases has since then increased to 46.

Ongoing validation

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) Vice President Julius Cainglet said they welcomed the creation of the ILO mission, but he expressed dismay over the supposed slow pace of the validation process of DOLE.

Currently, he said DOLE has only given updates to 12 of the 46 cases.

“Once they [DOLE] accept the mission, it will fast-track the  process [of validation] because the tripartite high-level mission will be setting meetings left and right. So whether they like or not, unions will be submitting what they really know about the cases,” Cainglet said.

Benavidez said they already have updates to all of the concerned cases, but he noted they cannot immediately disclose information to some since they are in different stages of investigation and hearing before the courts.

JIPCO opposition

Aside from the labor related killings, Cainglet said, FFW and other members of the labor coalition Nagkaisa, as well as Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) also plan to raise before the ILO mission their opposition to the creation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO), which he said is an anti-labor unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Luzon.

PNP justified the creation of JIPCO as part of its initiative to stop the so-called radical infiltration in industrial zones in Central Luzon.

“Since the explicit purpose of JIPCO is to stop the organization of trade unions, this is clearly an institutional and government-led attack on workers’ right to organize,” Nagkaisa and KMU said in a joint statement.

Bello already sent a letter to PNP chief Archie Francisco F. Gamboa on January 27,2020, expressing concern over the JIPCO due to its potential to hinder the “effective exercise of the Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining” of workers.

He reminded the PNP to comply with existing guidelines on how police should conduct itself within the ecozones.

Benavidez said PNP has already expressed its openness in holding dialogues with the labor groups and employers to the implementation of JIPCO.

Image credits: Roy Domingo


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