February 18, 2021

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) is a civil society organization that has advocated for labor rights and welfare for over forty years. It is not affiliated with any terrorist group. It is not a communist front.

EILER began as a church labor center in the 1970s, founded by church people and labor rights defenders, then became an ecumenical service institution for workers in the 1980s. Since then, it has continued to develop its flagship course, Genuine Trade Unionism (GTU), as the core component of its efforts to support the mass education of workers on labor
rights in the Philippines.

Today, it is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that
devotes itself to labor education, research, capacity-building, campaigning, and advocacy work. However, a letter from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to the Bureau of Immigration labeled EILER as a CTG (communist terrorist group)-affiliated organization. It likewise tagged EILER staffers for “participating” in so-called CTG activities.

We strongly condemn this blatant attack on our institution, and we strongly denounce the continuing efforts of the Duterte Administration to undermine and smear pro-labor groups and advocates. EILER has persisted in its work, which has been crucial in strengthening the solidarity of church people, cultural workers, youth and trade unionists in the country.

EILER’s efforts have led to a greater unity in campaigns against contractualization and other labor rights violations, as well as victories in the struggle to defend and uphold the rights of workers to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

EILER has also been vocal regarding sociopolitical issues that strongly affect the lives and welfare of Filipino workers, from the Martial Law in the 1970s to the war on drugs today. Contrary to the accusations of NICA, EILER does not and has never supported terrorist groups. It has never engaged in acts of terrorism. It does not recruit people and train them to become terrorists. It does not publish propaganda or materials linked to terrorist organizations.

Instead, we work to educate those in the labor sector, and to support and launch campaigns that advocate for workers’ rights. The bulk of our time is devoted to research work, to the expansion of EILER’s network of unions, and to building the capacities of labor organizations through trainings geared for labor leaders and education officers. We have consistently published our research and educational modules, and we have also produced several documentaries on the plight of the Filipino workers.
Since the establishment of EILER during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship, we have recognized the historic and indispensable role of trade unions, labor organizations, church people, researchers, and CSOs in the struggle to promote social justice and labor rights and welfare. It is deeply ingrained in our institutional character to be active, even in
times of crisis, and resolute, even in the face of state repression.

We call on the government to stop red-tagging EILER and labor rights defenders, and to instead focus on relief and recovery amid the pandemic. We urge our partners, civil society organizations and trade unions to stand in solidarity with EILER in condemning these attacks and in defending our democratic rights.

Forty years of service to the Filipino workers speaks for the integrity of EILER. We will not be silenced.

No to Red-tagging! Research and education work is not a crime! Hands off civil society organizations! Hands off development workers!