Marking a first in the history of Philippine labor relations and labor-related prosecution is the conduct of a 3-day Trainer’s Training and Workshop on International Labour Standards (ILS), Freedom of Association (FoA) and Collective Bargaining (CB) for Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 35 Members and Selected National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council Monitoring Body (NTIPC-MB) and Regional Tripartite Monitoring Body (RTMB) Members.
The activity was conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment through the Bureau of Labor Relations, in partnership with the International Labour Organization – Country Office Manila and the Department of Justice, on 25-27 May 2015 at the One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites, Tagaytay City.
In her opening remarks, Sec. Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz stated, “The Philippines has ratified International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and Convention No. 98 on Collective Bargaining and is thus under obligation to implement the principles embedded therein, both in law and in practice.”
More than 60 participants coming from the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council-Monitoring Body, Regional Tripartite Monitoring Bodies, A.O. 35 Members from the Department of Justice, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Commission on Human Rights, Presidential Human Rights Committee, Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and Regional Prosecutors from Regions 3, 4A, 5, 6 and 11, attended the training and workshop.
The presentation of the A.O. 35 Consultant, Dean Jose Diokno, was the highlight of the activity as it centered on the A.O. 35 Manual with case analysis exercises on labor-related cases and the existing programme for prosecutors and investigators handling such cases.
“The reported and validated violations of the rights to life, liberty and security throughout the years have served to create an impression of a culture of impunity, wherein security establishments of the State and non-state forces have been accused of silencing, through violence and intimidation, legitimate dissent and opposition raised by members of the civil society, cause-oriented groups, political movements, people’s and non-government organizations, and by ordinary citizens”, Diokno said, referring to the provisions under A.O. 35, “Creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons”.
According to Dean Diokno, the issue of impunity is being addressed through the establishment of the AO 35 Structure as an institutional legacy of an efficient, coherent, and comprehensive government machinery dedicated to the resolution of unsolved and new cases of political violence in the form of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty, and security of persons.
A workshop on assessing gaps and identifying strategies to address labor-related rights capped the activity. Participants were asked to discuss and answer a set of questions that looks into the observed gaps and deficiencies in the current AO 35 system and encourages stakeholders to look for non-bureaucratic solutions.
The outputs from the workshop were divided into those that are immediately doable such as continuous awareness-raising on FOA and CB principles, sharing of directory of all stakeholders, training of first responders, and developing guidelines governing the investigation, prosecution and monitoring of cases; and those that require policy measures such as representation of workers as observers in the IACs and RTMBs, addressing overlapping of the PNP Special Investigating Task Group and AO 35 Special Investigating Team, and delegation of AO 35 prosecutors.
Copies of workshop outputs shall be forwarded to AO 35 members for further study as grounds for future initiatives.