Stop the attacks against trade unionists!

Karapatan denounces the attacks against trade unionists and demands justice for long-time trade union and community organizer Susano Labora, who succumbed to a stroke on May 6, 2023, after being intensively harassed and interrogated by men who introduced themselves as “admins” from the Philippine Army.

The men first interrogated Labora on May 4 at his home in Barangay Tigatto, Davao City, grilling him about his work and whereabouts for the past three years, and pressuring him to become an intelligence asset and spy on the organizations he has been working with, such as the Kilusang Mayo Uno in the Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR).

Threatened, Labora agreed to meet with the men again. He went through the same ordeal on May 5, where he endured the interrogation and pressure tactics inside a vehicle. He persistently refused the men’s demands for him to become an intelligence asset.

The mental and psychological distress that the 60-year old Labora had gone through was such that he could neither eat nor sleep. By May 6, he suffered chest pains and a severe headache. His family rushed him to a hospital, but it was too late to save him. He died of a stroke.

As if these were not enough, the KMU-SMR office reported spotting a black van suspiciously parked in front of its office in Davao City on May 8, at around 4 p.m. The van stayed for more than an hour. A KMU-SMR staff also noticed a uniformed police auxiliary coming out of the van earlier.

We deplore the stepped-up harassment and surveillance of KMU-SMR by State agents, sinister acts which have already claimed the life of one of its long-time activists. The rampant state-sanctioned repression of progressive organizations nationwide must stop.

We call on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct a thorough investigation of the threats, harassment, intimidation and other forms of human rights violations perpetrated by the Philippine Army and other State agents that have led to the deaths or killings, involuntary disappearance, and the illegal arrest and detention on trumped-up charges of countless activists and other human rights defenders.