Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the reported arrest of a labour organiser in Bukidnon

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the reported arrest of a labour organiser in Bukidnon

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) vehemently condemns the arrest of a labour organiser, in Barangay Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon on 10 April 2024. A quick response operation (QRO) has been deployed by CHR to further investigate the matter.

William Lariosa, 63, is a veteran labour organiser of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in the Southern Mindanao Region. According to reports, Lariosa and his family have been receiving threats and harassment prior to the incident, which then prompted his decision to seek sanctuary in Barangay Butong where he was arrested.

According to Kilusang Mayo Uno – Southern Mindanao Region, suspected military agents from the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army are allegedly behind the arrest of Lariosa. As of writing, his whereabouts are still unknown.

Pursuant to its Protection mandate, CHR investigates all reported incidents of arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of liberty, such as illegal arrest, detention, or abduction. We remind the public and agents of law enforcement that these acts are tagged as severe human rights violations under Republic Act No. 10535, or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. We also take this opportunity to once again stress the need for the Philippines to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as a means to safeguard all activists from cases of involuntary disappearances.

The Commission calls for the immediate action in maximising all efforts to search for Lariosa. We also encourage people with information on his whereabouts to coordinate with the CHR or other investigation authorities in order to speed up the search and investigation.

This incident reflects yet another reality on the vulnerability of activists, including labour organisers, to involuntary disappearances. As Labour Day approaches, it is important that we pay closer attention to the calls of the Filipino working class to act on issues which affect their daily living. We urge the government to ensure that they are able to be provided avenues to air out their concerns and be able to seek redress of grievances whenever necessary.

The balancing act in honouring the struggles of the labour workforce in the country goes hand-in-hand with creating and promoting reforms which uplift all Filipino workers and their inherent rights. As the bedrock of the Philippine economy, it is incumbent upon all duty-bearers to ensure that we find sustainable solutions to the challenges that Filipino labourers face.###