Editors Note: The following is a 22 April 2021 press statement from lawyer Sonny Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers and chairperson of labor coalition NAGKAISA, on the proposal of the National Police to require workers to seek police clearances in availing services of the Labor Department.
We are printing it in full.
On PNP proposal to require workers to seek police clearance in availing DOLE services
The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) proposal is absurd, to say the least. It is an overreach on the part of the police force that is not contented with red-tagging trade unionists. Now it wants to red-tape workers’ access to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) services.
DOLE, therefore, should reject outright the PNP proposal requiring workers to seek police clearance before they can make transactions with the agency. The DOLE’s only responsibility is to protect and ensure workers’ rights and welfare and promote industrial peace. Never should it be made an extension of PNP’s security and anti-insurgency work.
Furthermore, only the DOLE can issue regulation with regards to the exercise and or enjoyment of the worker’s freedom of association. In fact, even such regulation should ONLY be ministerial in nature so as not to infringe or hinder the free exercise of workers’ rights.
Lastly, Article 3 (2) of ILO Convention 87 reminds public authorities to refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise of the right to self-organization. Requiring police or military clearance in the registration of unions or in the exercise of workers’ right is not only a red tape burden but also a manifestation of an unstable government afraid of its own shadow.