Labor NGO slams illegal arrests of rights defenders, trade union repression in Negros

CIDG vehicle parked outside the office of Gabriela in Bacolod City (Photo courtesy of Paghimutad, reposted from Bulatlat.)

Labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) strongly condemns the illegal arrests of trade union organizers and activists on eve of All Saints’ Day. More than 60 rights defenders including leaders of National Federation of Sugar Workers, BPO Industry Employees Network, Kilusang Mayo Uno and other civil society organizations were arrested in the simultaneous raids conducted by combined forces of AFP, PNP, SWAT, and CIDG in Bacolod City.

Advocates of Defend Negros verify that among the labor rights defenders illegally arrested and forcibly detained are John Milton “Ka Butch” Lozande, former fourth nominee of Anakpawis Party-list and Secretary-General of National Federation of Sugaw Workers (NFSW); Danny Tabura, leader of NFSW; Aldrin Dela Cerna, organizer of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Negros (KMP Negros); Noli Rosales, labor leader of Kilusang Mayo Uno; Romulo Bito-on, Jr., leader of Bayan Muna Party-list and his wife Mermalyn; community journalist May-anne Krueger of Paghimutad Media group and of BIEN, members of Teatro Obrero and Teatro Bungkal cultural group. Moreover, among those ordered to be arrested are six minors.

BIEN-Bacolod organizer and community journalist Anne Krueger was arrested after an illegal search in local Gabriela office was conducted by combined forces of AFP, PNP, SWAT, and CIDG. Anne is among 62 rights defenders and trade union organizers forcibly arrested and detained on the eve of All Saints’ Day. Photo by BIEN.


“Duterte government’s crackdown against trade unionists and activists through obscure search warrants and trumped-up charges shows that de facto Martial Law is in place. Just like a thief in the night, state elements unjustly enter the homes of the people, disrupt their peaceful remembrance of All Saints’ Day and wreak havoc,” Executive Director Rochelle Porras said.

According to EILER, the spate of attacks in Negros exposes the anti-peace and anti-people platform of Duterte government. Further, Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 Whole of Nation Approach in line with anti-peace talks Proclamations 360 and 374, Memorandum Order 32, and the full implementation of Human Security Act of 2007 (RA 9373) and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (RA 10168) clearly demonstrates the extremity of state-sponsored violence and culture of impunity.

“We are enraged on how the Duterte government reacts to the labor rights defenders who are exercising their rights to organize. The government is aggravating the situation with their continued harassment and attacks against the people instead of going after those accountable for the grave violations of human rights in the country,” Porras said.

“We call on the public to join the Labor Rights Defenders Network and work together to put an end to the attacks and violence perpetrated among our rights defenders and workers. We strongly support the demand for justice and accountability, and call for the immediate release of the rights defenders,” Porras concluded.

Defend Negros, Stop the Attacks is a formation of Manila-based Negrenses or those who have roots in Negros Island, and non-Negrenses who advocates for the Negros peoples' rights and an end to the human rights violations in the region. For updates, visit
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