Opening address at the Virtual launch of the ILO-CHR Module on Labour and Human Rights and International Labour Standards

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Virtual launch of the ILO-CHR Module on Labour and Human Rights and International Labour Standards, 7 December 2021, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Declaración | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 7 de diciembre de 2021
  • Our dearest friends and colleagues from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), with whom we are co-organizing this event, and as represented by OIC-Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana and Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit;
  • Our partners from the government, led by the DOLE, as represented by Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez, and representatives also from DTI, PEZA, DOJ and other important agency partners, including members of the security sector from the AFP and the PNP;
  • Our sisters and brothers from the trade unions and workers organizations;
  • Our friends and partners from the employers, exporters, ecozone locators and business groups, led by ECOP;
  • Our main development partner, the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines, represented by First Counsellor Maurizio Cellini, Head of Trade and Economic Affairs;
  • Our representatives from the foreign embassies and diplomatic corps, from the embassies of Belgium, Switzerland, Slovak Republic and other countries here present;
  • Our UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Gustavo González, and fellow officials and colleagues from both the UN Country Team and the ILO Manila and Bangkok;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant afternoon to you all!
I am pleased to join our colleagues and friends in the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to finally launch today the ILO-CHR Module on Labour and Human Rights and International Labour Standards.

This Module is a concrete example of how tripartism and social dialogue can lead to results and reforms aimed at enhancing and improving the state of freedom of association and labour rights in the country.

At the global level, we have seen tripartism in action as ILO member States, including the Philippines, issued the recent Global Call to Action for Human-Centered Recovery. In the past, Philippine tripartite constituents have also demonstrated tripartism with the adoption of the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) 2020-24.

In the case of the ILO-CHR Module on Labour and Human Rights, this is also a commitment of Philippine stakeholders to ensure that this spirit of tripartism that the ILO was able to forge with CHR, government, trade unions and employers would lead to the promotion of human rights and the recognition of the obvious.

To paraphrase Hillary Clinton, “let it be that workers’ rights are human rights and that human rights are workers’ rights, once and for all.” This Module will not simply end with this launch. Rather, this is just the start of great things to come, especially for the ILO-CHR partnership next year.

With the continuing support of the EU, we expect a full-roll out in 2022 of the ILO-CHR Module in terms of capacitating and deepening the knowledge, understanding and expertise of CHR with respect to the labour dimensions of human rights, especially in the context of workers’ civil liberties, trade union rights and freedom of association.

We also hope that this Module will be adopted not only by the CHR but also by our friends from DOLE, DTI, PEZA, DOJ, AFP, PNP, the trade unions and the employers.

The ILO-CHR Module on Labour and Human Rights is very rich and informative, as it deals with topics like international labour standards, freedom of association and collective bargaining, human rights challenges for workers, current mechanisms on addressing labour and human rights violations, international remedies, business and human rights, labour rights in economic zones, and the mandate of CHR in upholding and protecting labour rights, among others.

The launching of this Module comes right after the High-Level Virtual Exchange (HLVE) on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) or ILO Convetion 87 that we had with the government, workers and employers in September 2021. The HLVE highlighted outstanding issues that have been previously highlighted by the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) in its June 2019 conclusions and recommendations related to the Philippines’ application of C87 on freedom of association.

The HLVE report, which was completed in October 2021, had several recommendations to enable the Philippines to report on meaningful progress towards improvements and reforms in the current state of freedom of association and labour rights in the country.

In this regard, we hope that the ILO-CHR Module on Labour and Human Rights and International Labour Standards would be able to significantly contribute to Philippine efforts in addressing and preventing cases and allegations of violence against workers and trade unionists. This Module will then serve as the basis for our continuing partnership and engagement with the CHR for the year 2022, as we work towards an implementation agreement that will focus on its full roll-out next year by CHR for capacity-building workshops and trainings, involving not just its own personnel and staff but also other relevant stakeholders from government, security forces, economic zones, employers and trade unions, among others.

It is our utmost hope that this Module will have a lasting impact not only on promoting labour and human rights education but also in strengthening the Philippines’ commitment to freedom of association and the rights to organize and collectively bargain, especially as a beneficiary country of EU GSP+, which is anchored on an inclusive, sustainable, equitable, rights-based and democratic approach to international trade and development.

With that, maraming salamat po (thank you very much)!