International Human Rights Group Condemns Philippine Police Execution Of Trade Union Organiser Jude Fernandez
October 7, 2023
“The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) expresses its anger and condemnation at the Philippine National Police for executing 67-year-old trade union organizer Jude Thaddeus Fernandez, in Rizal,” said ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy today.
On the afternoon of September 29, 2023, a neighbour heard two gunshots and witnessed police carrying a body out of a house on a stretcher. On October 2, a Rapid Response Team from the Centre for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) was able to locate Fernandez’ body in a funeral parlour at Binangonan, Rizal, and confirm that elements of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) shot him while executing a search warrant. The police claimed "nanlaban" (he resisted) to justify this execution, even though Fernandez was unarmed.
“Nanlaban” has been the routine explanation for over 30,000 police killings in alleged anti-drug operations over the last seven years.
The police have refused so far to release Fernandez’ body to his relatives, saying that there is a PhP2 million (USD35,306) bounty to be claimed for it before it can be released. The existence of a bounty indicates a targeted killing.
Jude Fernandez is the 72nd victim of labor-related killing since July 2016, and the fourth labor leader/organizer assassinated since the International Labour Organisation High Level Tripartite Mission visited the Philippines in January this year. The Marcos government at that meeting reportedly admitted that these political killings had occurred and promised to change its counter-insurgency strategy which defined trade unionism as terrorism. Nothing happened.
“ICHRP calls on the global community to join in condemning the ongoing slaughter of trade unionists and other human rights defenders in the Philippines, to work to end the brazen impunity of the Philippine government armed security forces. The different human rights violations committed against Fernandez; the right to life, the right to organize union and even the refusal to tender his remains clearly portray the anti-people characteristic of the Philippine government’s National Security Plan and a blatant non-respect to its signature to different international covenants and bodies of the United Nations,” said Murphy.
Relatives, CTUHR personnel, and different workers organizations have maintained a vigil over the body for the last two nights and days.
Jude Fernandez began organising trade unions during the Marcos dictatorship and was a much-respected veteran organiser of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU- May First Movement) Labor Center.
KMU likens this to the brutal killings of union leaders Dandy Miguel and Manny Asuncion in March 2021, Asuncion being one of the nine victims slain in the Bloody Sunday massacre.
Binangonan, Rizal province, is the area where Dexter Capuyan and Bazoo De Jesus, two Indigenous Peoples’ rights defenders, were forcibly abducted by men who identified as working with the police, on April 28, 2023.