Philippines

The Philippines is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people

Credit: Jann Bonifacio / NurPhoto via AFP

Workers in Manila, the Philippines, demonstrated to demand decent wages and respect for workers’ rights. Trade unionists in the country remain vulnerable to violent attacks, abductions and arbitrary arrests.

Workers and unions in the Philippines remained at the mercy of red tagging (being blacklisted by the government as a communist subversive and branded an extremist), violence, abductions, and arbitrary arrests. In 2023, two prominent trade unionists were murdered. The government fostered a climate of fear and persecution, silencing the collective voice of workers. Workers across many sectors still faced significant obstacles when attempting to form trade unions.

Murder of Alex Dolorosa

On 24 April 2023, the body of labour rights defender Alex Dolorosa, a call centre organiser with the BPO Industry Employee Network (BIEN), was found in Bacolod City. He had been stabbed multiple times. While the Department of Justice instructed the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate this brutal murder, the circumstances surrounding the killing remain unclear and no arrest has been made. In his union work, Dolorosa was part of a mass filing of complaints against forced overtime in May 2019 and had since then continued to gain support from the call-centre community for continually standing up for their rights despite the constant fear of retaliation.

Murder of Jude Thaddeus Fernandez

Jude Thaddeus Fernandez, a 67-year-old organiser from the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) trade union centre, was shot dead on 29 September 2023 during a police raid on the house where he was staying in Binangonan, Rinzal Province. The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group later claimed that Fernandez had resisted the exercise of a search warrant as a justification for the shooting, even though he was unarmed. The allegation against the unionist was strongly refuted by the KMU. Fernandez is the 72nd victim of labour-related killings since July 2016.