International Human Rights Day – We strongly condemn the recent spate of red-tagging among our leaders in social media which aims to delegitimatize, vilify, and discredit our organization has done for the past 9 years. This recent episode of red-tagging came out after BIEN’s logo, along with other cause-oriented groups, was included and flashed in one of the slideshows during the Senate hearing on red-tagging, maliciously maligning our organization as CPP-NPA recruiters and involved in terrorist activities.
Among those leaders are Mylene Cabalona (President), Emadee Pangaliman (VP Internals), Sarah Prestoza (VP Externals), Joel Capulong (VP for Luzon), Rico Hababag (Secretary-General), Harmonie Cui (Auditor), Kris Tala (Paralegal Officer), and Lean Porquia (former President). Most of those who were red-tagged are members of the National Executive Board duly-elected by the General Assembly held in 2018 and attended by members from different chapters and regions.
We have seen a pattern of an orchestrated attack against us after our Bacolod organizer, Anne Krueger, was illegally arrested in aid of a faulty warrant in October 2019. A few months before the raid in Bacolod, photos of BIEN activities and leaders made rounds in social media used as a smear campaign noticeably designed to accused us of being CPP-NPA front organization.
We are disappointed but not surprised that another round of attack will come into play as red-tagging had been condoned and gradually institutionalized by government officials themselves. We are angry that our hard-earned taxes are being used wrongly in red-tagging rather than addressing legitimate issues and concerns of BPO workers. We deplore this culture of hate, false claims, and misleading perception towards our organization as this has greater risks on the safety and security of our leaders and members. The blanket approach of guilt by association through red-tagging has become part of the new normal during this pandemic, alongside BPO workplace issues such as floating while hiring, mass layoffs, forced leaves under a no work no pay scheme among many others.
Even before and at the onset of the pandemic, we are actively participating in social dialogues in various degrees or levels with policymakers, government agencies, and BPO companies through petitions and lobby work. Also, we continue to engage in tri-partism through the BPO Industry Tripartite Council (BPO-ITC).
We are very active in collaborating with partner unions in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and even global unions. As an internationally recognized labor organization, we have a proven track record of protecting and promoting BPO workers’ rights and welfare and has always been in the forefront to bring positive changes in the workplace.
We stand that red-tagging has no place in a democracy and will further shrink the democratic space for sectors like the BPO workers. We have never been involved in any violent or terrorist activities. Our work is primarily focused on exercising the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances and to uphold BPO workers’ rights and welfare. As we continue to keep our economy afloat thru our taxes, the least that we expect from our government is to not engage us in red-tagging but to address deplorable working conditions.
We will not sit idly against red-tagging as individuals or groups labeled as rebels or terrorists vilifies anyone who stands up and speaks out against any anti-worker, anti-people, anti-poor policies. They immediately become targets of threats, harassment, and surveillance. Worse, it leads to the slapping of trumped-up charges based on planted evidence or extra-judicial killings.
But despite all of this, we will remain firm in upholding and defending BPO rights and welfare. We will never falter and we won’t let this pass. We will take appropriate legal action if needed to help stop the spread of this hate crime. And we will not be silenced.
We stand that any attack on BIEN is an attack on every BPO workers’ aspirations for living wages, job security, and better working condition. ###