Picket at the RP Sydney embassy

in commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the Hacienda Massacre


November 16, 2008




Photos courtesy of Migrante International





Protest and Commemoration – Philippine Workers
Friday November 14, 2008 at 12 noon, Philippine Consulate, Wentworth Avenue, Sydney

16 November 2008 will mark the fourth-year anniversary of the infamous massacre at Hacienda Luisita [in Tarlac province, Philippines] during which seven striking farm workers, mill workers, and supporters were killed in a violent dispersal by police, military, and paid goons.

The day has since become a dark reminder of the ruthless repression workers are hit with when they take collective action not only in the Philippines, but in countries all over the world wherever workers are fighting back against imperialism and all kinds of exploitation and oppression.

In the months that followed the massacre at least 6 others supporting the union of workers at Hacienda Luisita were killed, usually by hooded men riding on motor cycles.

On Friday November 14, 2008 at 12 noon, the memory of those who were murdered will be honoured at a protest picket outside the Philippine Consulate, Wentworth Avenue, Sydney.

November 16 is not simply a sore point of commemoration of workers' rights that are under attack, it has become a rallying cry to hold high the unfinished struggle of workers everywhere for justice and freedom.

The right to humane conditions at work, fair wages and benefits, job security, freedom of association, the right to collectively bargain and to strike, self-determination, and the end of discrimination are not just legitimate demands of workers and the trade union movement, they are internationally recognized rights that should be enjoyed by everyone regardless of a country's level of development.

In the Philippines, workers' rights continue to be massively violated, and trade unionists and labor organizers are killed in the exercise of their rights. There are already 87 worker victims of political killings since 2001, five remain missing, and two leaders are still detained.

The latest victim is Gerry Cristobal, a union leader and organizer of Samahang Manggagawa ng EMI-YAZAKI (Workers' Association in EMI-YAZAKI), who was ambushed and killed on March 10 of this year, after surviving a first assassination attempt on 28 April 2006 in Cavite. His killing, like all the others, has not been thoroughly investigated.

Others who support workers are harassed. The Pro Labor Legal Assistance Center [PLACE] has been subject to surveillance and harassment by the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] since 2006. PLACE handles about 700 labour, human rights, criminal, civil and administrative cases on pro-bono basis each year. The AFP uses baseless allegations of involvement in armed rebellion to justify harassment.

The most recent act was the arrest of PLACE Board Chairman Atty. Remegio Saladero Jr. who was arbitrarily arrested in his house-cum-law office in Antipolo, Rizal on a defective warrant of arrest supposedly charging him with frustrated and multiple murder. He was arrested by members of the Antipolo police and was brought to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna.

The allegations against Saladero and his colleagues are baseless and part of a pattern of repression that includes extra-judicial killings and disappearances to terrorise and silence people’s organisations.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial Killings, Philip Alston reported to the UN Council on Human Rights on 16 April 2008. Alston’s report stated that the military in the Philippines are in a state of denial about their involvement in extra-judicial killings and the repression of people’s organisations he sees as part of ‘civil society’. The military has supplanted civilian authority through threats and coup attempts. Alston states –

“There is impunity for extrajudicial executions. No one has been convicted in the cases involving leftist activists, and only six cases involving journalists have resulted in convictions”

Amidst the repression of unions and other people’s groups, the Government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has announced a freeze of wages. This wage freeze will further impoverish Philippine workers at a time of global financial crisis. Philippine workers are asked to bear the burden resulting from the economic crisis created by corporate greed. Organisation and protest in the past have been met with repression, even killings. Future action against an unjust wage freeze will face the same sort of repression. ►►►►



Sydney Australia Rally in Commemoration of the Victims of the Hacienda Luisita Rally & International Action on Repression of Workers and Trade Unions in the Philippines
November 14, 2008 at the Philippine Consulate.

Filipino migrants and supporters of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Migrante International, Karapatan, Bayan and other progressive Philippine mass movements, rallied outside the Philippines Consulate in Sydney Australia on Friday 14th of November 2008.

The rally honoured the victims of that awful massacre with calls that justice be done for all victims of extrajudicial killings and massacres in the Philippines, with special attention paid to the killings of workers and their supporters.

The sponsors of the rally were Philippine – Australia Union Links [PAUL], Lingap Migrante, Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines [APDP] and Philippine-Australia Women’s Association [PAWA].

Peter Murphy, of PAUL called for an end to the killings. Peter emphasised that the struggle of workers continues despite the repression evident in the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and the killings since. The workers at Hacienda Luisita continue to advance their cause. It is the corruption, and desperation of the Arroyo regime that is forcing the moves to repress opponents.

Edwin Subijano [Linggap Migrante] spoke of the links of solidarity and cooperation between Filipinos and Australians.

Peter Brock [APDP] emphasised that the Armed Forces of the Philippines were using the ‘war on terror’ as a cover the launch their own State-sponsored terrorism against the people’s movement in the Philippines. That movement had already unseated 2 corrupt and dictatorial regimes, and would be able to bring further change to the Philippines. The movement is resilient and the best buffer against terrorism as it built and more humane, participatory and democratic society. Australia must end cooperation and military aid to the AFP which practices policies that lead to repression of the popular movement.

Mr Edwin Subjino, Chairperson of Lingap Migrante (Association of Filipinos and Filipino-Australians in Western Sydney) handed a letter Mr Tony Reyes, the new Vice-Consul of the Consulate. The letter set out the concerns and demands of protesters.

In the time of the rally, over 1,000 Sydney-siders walked past, and heard the chants and speeches and took away flyers setting out the situation in the Philippines and the demands of the protestors. Many of them sounded their car horns to express their support. The rallyists chanted: GMA resign! Down with US-Arroyo regime! Stop the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines! Surface the abducted and missing human rights workers!

Philippine workers have been responding to poverty in their homeland by making risky journeys to jobs in other countries. In Australia more and more Filipinos have been coming to work under temporary visas known as ‘457 visas’. Under the Howard government, the 457 visa program expanded rapidly, and as an adjunct to the WorkChoices changes that stripped rights and benefits away from Australian citizens and residents. Filipino workers under the 457 visas were normally required to sign workplace agreements that set wage levels below the market rate for Australian workers, and stripped protections and benefits hard-won by Australian unions over decades. Some Filipino workers suffered workplace injuries; some even died. Despite some important improvements by the Labour Government of Kevin Rudd, there is still a long way to go to ensure justice and fairness for overseas temporary workers in Australia.

These are the factors that bring us to our protest on Friday November 14, 2008 at the Philippine Consulate, Wentworth Avenue, Sydney. We call for –

 An end to repression of trade unions and workers organisations in the Philippines and around the world;
 Justice and fairness for all overseas temporary workers in Australian
 An end to military assistance and cooperation between Australia and the Philippines whilst the Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to be involved in extrajudicial killings and acts of repression.

For further information –

Peter Murphy, Philippine-Australia Union Links [PAUL] – 0418 312 301
Peter Brock, Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines [APDP] – 0425 363 370