Philippines: long-term labour rights defender killedEvent
- Initial Date
- Sep 29, 2023
- Event Description
A veteran labor organizer was killed by elements of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in Binangonan, Rizal province on September 29.
According to initial reports received by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), 67-year old Jude Thaddeus Fernandez was killed in a firefight after police served a search warrant in his home in Binangonan. The officers claimed that Fernandez fired upon them, forcing them to fight back.
KMU, however, disputes this narrative. “Fernandez was organizing workers in communities to enjoin them to campaign for wage increases and other workers’ rights,” the group said in its statement. “He is a labor organizer and does not bear arms.”
A fact-finding mission led by KMU, progressive mass organizations, human rights organizations, Gabriela Women’s Party representative Arlene Brosas and former Bayan Muna representative Ferdinand Gaite indicated that there were “no signs of resistance on the part of Fernandez when he was gunned down by persons who identified as elements of the CIDG.”
KMU Secretary-General Jerome Adonis described the killing as “terrorist-esque.” He also noted that Fernandez’ remains have yet to be released to his family.
“It has been five days since he was killed and brought elsewhere, and now, [the PNP and CIDG] are refusing to give [the remains],” Adonis said in a statement by KMU. “Ka Jude’s friends and family only wish to mourn in peace and know the truth behind this brutal crime by the police.”
Fernandez was a veteran activist and labor organizer who first started organizing during the Marcos Sr. dictatorship. He began as a student activist in the University of the Philippines Los Baños and was a member of the UP Student Catholic Action. He started organizing workers in the Southern Tagalog region before moving on to organizing nationwide.
In a KMU-led indignation rally in front of the PNP National Headquarters in Camp Crame, Adonis said that Fernandez “was old, but he gave his entire 67 years to serve the working class.”
Since 2016, there have been 72 victims of extrajudicial killings from the workers’ sector nationwide, with Fernandez being the latest. KMU stressed that there have been four killings since the International Labor Organization conducted its High-Level Tripartite Mission in January 2023.
“The attacks against organizers and unionists are attacks on the legitimate campaigns of the workers and the people for wage increases, regular jobs, freedom to unionize and other people’s rights,” KMU said. The group noted that Fernandez’ killing came at a time of increased calls for wage increases, as well as to end government corruption and human rights violations.
In Rizal province, the minimum wage ranges from P385 ($6) to P520 ($9) per day. Ibon Foundation estimates that a family of five needs PHP1,108 daily to “live decently.” Meanwhile, coalitions in CALABARZON like the Workers Initiative for Wage Increase are lobbying for a P750 ($13) across-the-board wage increase.
Women’s alliance Gabriela also condemned Fernandez’ killing, stating that the incident is part of the “US-Marcos regime’s whole-of-nation approach which has only led to red-tagging, trumped-up charges, abductions, and killing of civilian advocates.”
The Fernandez slay happened just as news of three Indigenous People’s rights advocates were abducted by elements of the 203rd Infantry Brigade in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro province. According to human rights watchdog Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, Job David, Peter Del Monte Jr., and Alia Encela were investigating reports of human rights violations in the Bongabong-Bansud area when they were forcibly taken by the military.
KMU is calling on the ILO and the Commission on Human Rights to “swiftly respond and attain justice.” They also call on all “workers and the people to protest and demand accountability and justice from the PNP-CIDG and the entire Marcos Jr. administration.”
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Right to life
- Labour rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 29 September 2023, Jude Thaddeus Fernandez, long-term labour organiser, was killed by the police in Binangonan, the Philippines.