Thank you, Chair.
I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Montenegro* and Albania as well as the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
We are committed to the promotion of universal ratification and implementation of the eight fundamental Conventions as part of our Strategic Framework on Human Rights. We call on all countries to protect, promote and respect all human and labour rights and we attach great importance to freedom of association and the right to organise. Compliance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 is essential in this respect.
We wish to recall the commitments made by the Philippines within the framework of the GSP+ Agreement and the Framework Agreement on partnership and cooperation with the EU and its Member States, in particular commitment to ratify and effectively implement international conventions on human and labour rights. In support of this, the EU is implementing a joint project with the Philippines on strengthening the capacity of public administrations to apply the eight fundamental ILO Conventions with a specific focus on freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Despite some progress in overall promotion of the social and labour rights agenda and the commitments by the authorities to address the issues of concern, we deeply regret that this case is again on the list of this Committee, after its discussion in 2016. We thank the Government for good engagement and the detailed information additionally provided. However, we note with serious concern that after several years, numerous cases of violations of freedom of association remain unresolved, including trade-union murders, anti-union violence and police violence during peaceful strike action. We are also concerned by the lack of proper investigations and prosecutions of serious cases. We reiterate that impunity cannot and should not be tolerated in any society. We welcome the steps taken in recent years to establish monitoring bodies and institutions, including the Inter-Agency Committee entrusted with the duty to investigate extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council – Monitoring Body and the Regional Tripartite Monitoring Bodies.
However, we regret that the Inter-Agency Committee is yet to reconvene. We note that provisions have been made to set up Tripartite Validating Teams to support the work of the regional monitoring bodies. We call on the Government to take prompt measures to reinstate the proper functioning of the Inter-Agency Committee and we expectthe established bodies to appropriately investigate all cases, punish the perpetrators and prevent the repetition of similar events. Recognising the seriousness of the allegations and the complexity of the cases, we are cooperating with the Government in the area of witness protection and capacity building of prosecutors, enforcers and other relevant actors. We also urge the Government to take further steps to strengthen the functioning of the national and regional tripartite bodies.
We join the Committee of Experts in welcoming the ratification of Convention 151 in 2017 by the Philippines. However we would like to raise our concerns over the persisting legislative aspects of the case which the ILO supervisory bodies have been raising for years. We note with concern the lack of progress in the adoption of several legislative proposals to bring national legislation into conformity with Convention 87, despite repeated commitments and assurances to do so in recent years. We urge the authorities in the Philippines to adopt the legislative amendments, in particular concerning:
Lastly, tripartite consultations and meaningful and effective social dialogue are essential elements of the application of fundamental principles and rights at work, particularly the fundamental ILO Convention 87. Therefore, we strongly encourage the Philippines to step up its efforts to strengthen cooperation with the workers and employers to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention 87 and respect for freedom of association.
In conclusion, we would like to reiterate our strong commitment to continue our intensive cooperation with the Government of the Philippines, in its effort to address challenges and secure the respect of human and labour rights in the country.
Thank you, Chair.