URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY
PHL 004 / 0914 / OBS 074
False charges / Judicial harassment
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in The Philippines.
Description of the situation
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources, including the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), regarding the harassment done by officers of a cooperative/recruitment agency by filing false charges against Mr. Edcil Bacalso, member of NAGKAISA, a coalition of labour groups and Mr. Wilson Fortaleza, member of Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers Party).
According to the information received, on July 14, 2014, the two human rights defenders from the workers sector were both charged with libel, illegal assembly, and alarm and scandal, by officials of the AsiaPro Cooperative . The case was filed against them based on a complaint affidavit by Mr. Edeward C. Milano, Head of the Business Unit for Luzon of AsiaPro Multipurpose Cooperative, at the Office of the Prosecutor, in Pasing City.
The latter accused Mr. Bacalso and Mr. Fortaleza of distributing libelous materials to the public allegedly containing malicious and defamatory statements during a protest held on April 25, 2014. Also, Mr. Milano blamed the group of obstructing the flow of traffic and blocking the pedestrians due to Nagkaisa’s activity. Further, Mr. Milano stated that the public affairs were disturbed due to the loud speaker system used in the protest.
The Observatory strongly condemns the judicial harassment of Mr. Edcil Bacalso, and Mr. Wilson Fortaleza, and calls on the Philippines authorities to immediately and unconditionally close the case and drop the charges brought against them, as their intended goal seems to be the sanctioning of and obstructing to their human rights activities and weaken their campaign against exploitation of workers.
Based on Nagkaisa’s statement, AsiaPro is a supplier of contractual workers of several large corporations  that hides under the guise of a cooperative to evade compliance to labor laws and violate labor rights of its members and employees due to their non-payment of wages and other mandatory benefits such as the Social Security System.
In March, 2014, despite the Supreme Court already ruled that AsiaPro must comply with core labor standards and other labor-related laws (G.R. No. 172101), AsiaPro was able to discontinue, through a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), a labour union certification election in Galeo Equipment and Mining Company . A total of 285 Galeo workers had already voted by the time when the balloting was stopped. Another 275 Galeo workers were unable to cast ballots and were disenfranchised due to the TRO.
The election standoff arose from an attempt by the AsiaPro manpower cooperative to prevent the unionization efforts at Galeo. Asiapro is claiming that the Galeo workers are their members and thus exempt from unionization. Galeo workers did not even know that they were members of Asiapro.
On April 25, 2014, at 9:30am in San Rafael Street, Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City, Nagkaisa led a peaceful rally outside the building, where the AsiaPro central office is located, to protest against AsiaPro anti-human rights practices.
The activity was attended by around 200 participants coming from various labor groups including the Partido ng Manggagawa, Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), SENTRO, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA). Equipped with sound system, flags, streamers, banners, and position papers, the demonstrators only criticize AsiaPro for their activities.
Philippines Authority Contacts:
- H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, New Executive Building, Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines. Fax: +63 2 736 1010, Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com;
- Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines. Fax: +632 929 0102. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com;
- Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President, Office of the Senate, Office of the Senate Secretary, Hon. Emma L. Reyes, 6th flr., Senate of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City, Tel: +63 2 552-6601 loc. 6129/23 & 24 / +63 2 552-6676, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Hon. Leila de Lima, Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ), DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura, 1004, Manila, Fax: +63 2 521 1614, Email: email@example.com;
- Hon. Jose Midas Marquez, Court Administrator, Supreme Court of the Philippines, 3rd Flr., New Supreme Court Bldg., Annex, Padre Faura St., Ermita 1000, Manila, Tel: +63 2 522 590 to 94, Fax: +63 2 526 8129, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com;
- Police Director General Raul M. Bacalso, Chief, Philippine National Police, Camp General Rafael Crame, Quezon City, Philippines, Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401, Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Hon. Emilio Gonzalez, Deputy Ombusdman, Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military And other Law Enforcement Offices, 3rd Flr., Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman, 1004 Quezon City, Fax: +63 2 926 8747 , Tel: +63 2 926 9032;
- H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32, Email: email@example.com;Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, 297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 340 33 77 / 2 340 33 78, Fax: +32 2 345 64 25.
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in your respective countries.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80
- Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
How to Support The Campaign
Please write to the Philippines authorities urging them to:
- Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Edcil Bacalso and Mr. Wilson Fortaleza, as well as all human rights defenders in The Philippines;
- Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Edcil Bacalso and Mr. Wilson Fortaleza, as well as against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;
- Comply with all the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- its Article 6.a, which states that “everyone has the right individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems”,
- Article 12.1, which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”,
- and its Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
4. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by the Philippines.
For further information: www.fidh.org