Cebu News

Laborers to government: Pay attention to our plight

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Labor groups celebrated yesterday’s 157th Bonifacio Day with peaceful rallies calling attention to issues on living wage and regular jobs, among other issues, that beset workers.

In particular, partylist group Partido Manggagawa challenged presidential candidates in next year’s national elections to heed the workers clamor.

 “Hinahamon namin ang mga kandidato sa eleksyon: Manggagawa naman!” said Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson.

Sanlakas secretary-general Aaron Pedrosa, on the other hand, said in a statement said that they intend to send a strong message to all national candidates that workers and the poor will be unforgiving in their criteria in choosing the candidates that they will support and vote for.

 He said their “ indignation rally” was on the “five-and-a-half years of unbearable hardship” under the Aquino administration caused by economic policies that favor transnational corporations that circumvented workers’ constitutional right to security tenure through contractualization, the rejection of higher tax exemptions to middle and lower income, cheap labor policy, the K+12 law, tax incentives to mining and other extractive investments, and the denial of public services through private-public partnerships.

 Members of PM ripped copies of temporary employment contracts and pay slips with withholding taxes in a symbolic reenactment of Bonifacio’s tearing of the cedula that started the Katipunan’s revolution against Spanish colonial rule.

“We condemn the epidemic of contractualization perpetrated by capitalists to demolish labor standards and lambast the government for killing the proposed tax cuts that would have raised the take home pay of workers,” Derige said, in a statement.

PM-Cebu joined other workers groups belonging to the Nagkaisa labor coalition in a march from Sto. Rosario Church along P. del Rosario Street to Colon Street in downtown Cebu City.

Aside from Nagkaisa, militant groups also held a separate rally on Colon Street, likewise expressing their disgust on the Aquino administration for its failure to address social ills such as poverty and unemployment, among others.

Derige added that giving tax breaks to wage earners is not a loss to the government because increased take home pay leads to bigger spending for goods and services.

He said that this will “spur growth in manufacturing, agriculture and services sector, and thus enlarge tax collection by the government.”

 With the Paris COP21 talks on climate change about to start, the Bonifacio Day protest actions by the labor groups also included calls for government to address for climate justice, climate jobs and just compensation.

“Labor’s demand for decent work is integral to adaptation and mitigation as people with regular employment and social insurance are better prepared to face recurring disasters,” Derige said.

Meanwhile  workers affiliated with the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Partido Lakas ng Masa, and SANLAKAS party-list coalition  called for the end of elite rule in the country and urged the poor to struggle against what it called “imperialist plunder” after Malacanang concluded that it’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum recently was a “resounding success.”

Sonny Melencio of the Partido Lakas ng Masa also said that the political and economic systems in the country need an overhaul.

The National Confederation of Transportwokers Union (NCTU), an affiliate of SENTRO and International Union of Food, Agricultural and Hospitality Workers, also aired out its concern on the Department of Transportation and Communications memorandum circular imposing a nationwide phasing out of old public utility vehicles as a primary mode of transportation by January 1 next year.

According to the memorandum, all PUVs aged 13 years or more are to be phased out, following the modernization the DOTC is aiming for the Philippine transportation setting.

NCTU national president Ernie Cruz said the government has not yet given an alternative solution to almost 200,000 PUV drivers who might lose their source of income.

“Wala naman kaming tutol doon sa modernization. Papunta tayo dun, eh. Ang masama dun ang ay ang argumento na number one ng DOTC sa pag-phase out ng PUVs, at ‘yun daw ay concern sila sa climate change. Hindi naman totoo yun, ‘eh...,” Cruz told The FREEMAN.

He instead cited coal power plants, which he said are the ones that deserve to be phased out due to their alleged massive contribution to greenhouse gases.

After Partido Manggagawa, SENTRO, and Nagkaisa, another group, this time composed of organizations under the umbrella of Alyansang Makabayan, also held its own protest rally. 

Earl Endab, spokesperson of Kabataan Party-list Cebu Chapter, said they were marching against the unfavorable “commercialized education” setting in the country.

 “Ang edukasyon komersiyalisado pa ang sistema, ang tuition fee nagkataas, niya ang budget para sa mga state universities kay gipangputol, niya naa pud ang kolonyalismo kon diin ng framework nga gipangtudlo sa atoa kay dili atoa,” he said.

Meanwhile, during a program in honor of Bonifacio at Plaza Independencia yesterday morning, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama assured his constituents there would be no fund misuse during his administration if given another mandate for another term in office.

“If you still believe in my thrust in good governance… it is guaranteed that as soon as I get reelected and we get the majority (bloc in the city council) everything will never be in our pockets but all for the benefit of the Cebuanos,” he said. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, May B. Miasco Saison O. Dampios/RHM


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