Transport group PISTON strongly condemns the killing of veteran labor organizer Jude Fernandez in Binangonan, Rizal on September 29, 2023, by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
As the world observes the World Day for Decent Work today, October 7, we are reminded of the harsh realities workers, unions, and organizers face in their struggle for fair and livable wages, job security, freedom of association, and other fundamental labor and human rights.
The tragic extrajudicial killing of Jude marks the 72nd EJK of a worker and unionist since 2016. Amidst these attacks, decent work for all remains elusive in the face of the Marcos Jr administration’s policies and negligence.
The murder of Jude is an outrageous injustice and a violation of the principles underpinning the World Day for Decent Work. His killing is a grim testament to the dire situation of workers and trade unions in the country. In fact, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has listed the Philippines for seven consecutive years as one of the worst countries for workers.
Similarly, the transport sector grapples with issues that gravely affect their work and livelihood, including the PUV Phaseout, lack of fair and just transition programs, oil price hikes, and lack of social protection. This is coupled with numerous red-tagging, intimidation, harassment, illegal arrests, fabricated cases, and enforced disappearances.
On this World Day for Decent Work, PISTON demands justice for the brutal murder of Jude and accountability for those responsible. We urge all workers, worker’s rights advocates, the Filipino people, and the global community to continue taking action for decent work and human rights.
The tragic loss of Jude serves as a stark reminder that the struggle for decent work persists. As we mourn the loss of a passionate labor advocate, we recommit to carry on with struggle for justice and decent work for all.
At around 4 PM on September 29, 2023, armed elements from the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) entered the rented house of labor organizer Jude Fernandez in Brgy. Macamot, Binangonan, Rizal, Philippines. They were carrying an arrest warrant for an individual named “Oscar Dizon”. The police allege that Fernandez resisted, forcing them to retaliate with gunfire. Based on reports and initial independent investigations, nearby residents heard two gunshots, while confirming that there were no signs of commotion from the house. This proves that the police operation was a clear case of extrajudicial killing.
Who is Jude Fernandez?
Jude Fernandez was a 66-year-old veteran community and labor organizer from our national labor center, Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement). He finished his studies at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and took up labor rights activism during the Marcos Sr. dictatorship in the 70s. For decades, Jude actively campaigned and fought for the rights, welfare, and well-being of Filipino workers and citizens.
As a veteran labor organizer for KMU, his knowledge and expertise provided invaluable insights for our campaigns in PISTON and the transport sector.
Why are workers and unionists getting killed?
The killing of Fernandez is the 72nd case of extrajudicial killing among workers and unionists since 2016. This is the fourth case after the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission (ILO HLTM) in the Philippines this January 2023. This case shows the Marcos Jr. government’s violent response to campaigns for people’s economic and political rights. For seven years in a row, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has listed the Philippines as one of the most dangerous countries for workers.
Unionists, activists, organizers, and the general public are suppressed to sabotage campaigns for meaningful wage increases, a family living wage, a national minimum wage, job security, and freedom of association.
To the Office of the President:
1. Instruct the Department of Labor and Employment to conduct its investigation, intervention, and appropriate action in the killing of Fernandez and in other cases of violations such as trumped-up charges, illegal arrests, enforced disappearances, intimidation, and harassment.
2. Immediately implement the recommendations of the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission and labor groups. Amend Executive Order 23 to include representation of workers and employers in the Inter-Agency on Freedom of Association.
3. Bar the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from using the full extent of force that leads to arbitrary killings in the conduct of their operations. Instruct them to fully comply with the guidelines set by the Supreme Court in the execution of warrants, including the Rules on the Use of Body-Worn Cameras (A.M. No. 21-06-8-SC) during operations.
To the House and Senate:
4. Launch a congressional inquiry into the worsening climate of violence against unionists, activists, and rights defenders. Enact legislation to protect citizens’ right to life and liberty, according to due process of law.
To the United Nations (UN) and International Labor Organization (ILO):
5. Conduct further inquiry into the worsening situation of human rights in the Philippines, as indicated by the rising number of extrajudicial killings, torture, abduction, enforced disappearances, and illegal arrest and detention.
6. For the UN Office of the Commission Human Rights to send a Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions to the Philippines.
7. For the ILO to subject the Philippine government to regular review of its commitment to Labor Convention 87. Push the government of the Philippines to implement the recommendations of the 2023 HLTM.
To the Commission on Human Rights
8. Conduct an independent investigation into the killing of Jude Fernandez. Issue a comprehensive report and analysis on the cases of extrajudicial killings and other grave human rights violations. Recommend measures for executive action.
WHAT WE CAN DO:
1. Unions, federations, mass organizations, institutions, individual personalities, and other groups are urged to issue a statement to condemn the brutal killing of Fernandez and call for swift justice.
2. Participate in the campaign to stop all forms of violence against workers and citizens. Our banner call: “Stop the killings! Stop the attacks against freedom of association! Fight for our right to organize!”
3. Donate to the legal fund for the case of Jude Fernandez, as well as the campaign for the protection of trade union rights and human rights.
Bank Name: EASTWEST BANK
Account Name: Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)
Account Number: 200056974139
SWIFT CODE: EWBCPHMMXXX
Maria Elena P
4. Intensify the struggle for the economic and democratic rights of the people. Resist attacks and advance our fight for wage increase, regular employment, freedom of association, food on the table, and other fundamental rights.