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Global labor group cites deteriorating state of human rights

AN INTERNATIONAL labor group on Monday called for the declaration of a human rights emergency in the Philippines after authorities arrested six union organizers and a journalist.

The Council of Global Unions called on the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Labour Organization to consider as an emergency “the deteriorating human rights condition in the Philippines.”

International bodies should also send “their missions to investigate human rights and trade union repression in the country and help reverse the situation,” the group said in a statement.

The arrest of union leaders “is yet another blow to the trade union movement in the Philippines,” it said. “Killings among activists and rights defenders as a way of instilling fear and silencing the people have not ceased.”

Police arrested a journalist and several labor leaders in separate operations last week over alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives — the common charges against activists.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Metro Manila Chairman Raymond V. Palatino said the arrests were the “handiwork of a terrorist regime.”

Mr. Palatino said President Rodrigo R. Duterte should be held responsible for intensified attacks against his critics.

“It was his speech of red-tagging activists which unleashed the brutal forces of the state and targeted those who are condemned as enemies of the government,” he told a news briefing attended by relatives of the suspects.

“A President intolerant of opposition and determined to wage an all-out war against communists, a judge issuing questionable search warrants, police fabricating evidence, public servants red-tagging activists — all of these were reflected in the recent crackdown,” Mr. Palatino said.

A Quezon City judge issued the warrants for the arrest that allowed police to raid the homes of the suspects.

A Supreme Court circular allows the executive judges of the Manila and Quezon City trial courts to issue search warrants that can be served outside their jurisdictions.

Data from human rights group Karapatan showed that at least 188 human rights defenders have been killed under the Duterte administration, while 426 activists and community organizers have been arrested. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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