The International Labour Organization (ILO) High-Level Mission to the Philippines wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the Government of the Philippines, its independent agencies and the workers’ and employers’ organizations of the country for the full cooperation and the extensive information provided to it. As indicated in the media advisory, all relevant information will be transmitted to the ILO supervisory bodies for the further consideration of the application in the Philippines of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and of the principles of freedom of association. These bodies will examine this information at their up-coming meetings in November-December 2009 and March 2010 and their reports will be issued in the first quarter of 2010 and will be made available on the ILO website.
The mission was encouraged by the enthusiasm expressed by the relevant actors in the Philippines Government to embark upon a comprehensive technical cooperation programme to improve understanding and respect for the fundamental principles and rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Among the activities proposed to the Government, the mission has highlighted the need to provide for: coordinated training of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on freedom of association and its linkages to civil liberties; freedom of association and collective bargaining training focused on implementation within special economic zones; training of judges and lawyers on international labour standards and their use in the judiciary; continuing education for Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Public Sector Labor Management Council (PSMLC) on international labour standards; and the promotion of social dialogue at all levels with special outreach to the tripartite peace councils.
The mission was often confronted with contradictory statements concerning violence against trade unionists and the sufficiency of the efforts made by the Government to ensure that workers may exercise their trade union rights in a climate free from fear. The mission therefore, considers that rapid establishment of a high-level tripartite inter-agency monitoring body of such allegations would constitute an important first step in bringing the relevant partners together to engender a greater common understanding of the concerns raised. It would also represent a commitment to comprehensive and coherent action and an inclusive participatory approach to taking meaningful steps at the national level. The mission was also encouraged by the legislative initiatives to bolster the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines in its crucial role of promoting and ensuring respect for civil liberties, including those of workers and trade unionists. A statement at the highest level of the Government instructing all government actors to make special efforts to ensure that their actions do not infringe upon the basic civil liberties of trade unionists could go a long way in reassuring the workers that have brought their complaints to the ILO.
Finally, the mission encourages the Government to provide its full support for the rapid adoption of the bills pending in Congress to bring the legislation into greater conformity with the Freedom of Association Convention.
The High-Level Mission was composed of Ms Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the ILO International Labour Standards Department, Ms Karen Curtis, Deputy Director of the ILO International Labour Standards Department and responsible for Freedom of Association and Mr Tim de Meyer, International Labour Standards Specialist of the ILO Subregional Office for East Asia. The High Level Mission to the Philippines was conducted on 22-29 September 2009.