8th December 2017
Dear President Duterte,
The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines represents many Filipino migrant workers and concerned citizens in the UK. We are writing to express our concern and alarm at the recent arrest of George San Mateo, the National President of PISTON, the Jeepney divers’ union. The arrest of an important trade union leader during a major protest action is an outrageous violation of international labour standards. The union has been taking legitimate trade union action to defend the jobs of its thousands of members from a government decision that will take away the livelihoods of workers in order to give profitable businesses to the rich and to corporations.
That this has come at a time when the union has restrained its strike action so that a dialogue can take place makes it looks as though the government’s only concern is to destroy the union. It also comes at a time when the government has issued threats to many legitimate civil society organisations.
We wish to express our deep concern that we want a government that supports the poor not the rich. We want a government that respects the democratic rights of workers and ordinary Filipinos, not the tycoons and foreign corporations.
Quite ironic that he is charged with violating Public Service Law, as the Philippines’ iconic pubilc utility vehicle known as the jeepney will be phased out in a ‘modernisation scheme’ that would only put jeepney drivers, who earn P200-400 a day for a 12 hour shift, in perpetual debt — rather than focusing on protection of livelihoods and jobs whilst addressing the backward transport system through a fully-government funded and run mass transport service.
We urge you to immediately drop the charges against George San Mateo who is now out on bail.
Secretary – CHRP