Monday, July 26, 2021

Workers critique Duterte’s last SONA: Recycled anecdotes, absence of strategy


From the point of workers who have suffered through the failed covid response and were betrayed by the promise to end endo, there was really no high point to the 3-hour long SONA. There was nothing new he said about the most controversial and pressing issues like the drug war and the West Philippine Sea as he simply recycled his non-sequiturs. And there was deafening silence on a concrete strategy to combat covid and recession.


In the midst of a pandemic and a recession, the focus of the SONA should have been laying out an effective plan. These are also what the people are looking for in the SONA as revealed in the recent Pulse Asia survey. The people’s demands for a response on jobs, the economy, inflation, vaccine and even the West Philippine Sea are actually reflected in the labor coalition Nagkaisa’s call for TABAKK or Trabaho, Ayuda, Bakuna, Karapatan and Kasarinlan.


Duterte said that he really had no plans given the threat of the Delta variant except to impose another severe lockdown. In other words, Duterte will just be repeating the mistakes of the past year but coming from an even worse situation that last year. Walang pag-asa at inspirasyong makakatas sa huling SONA.


The alibi and excuses for the drug war was the lowest point of the SONA. Duterte spent so much time spinning his worn-out tales and anecdotes about drugs as an existential problem. As usual the numbers he mentioned about the drug war like 50,000 arrests per day and billions of drugs interdicted are fairy tales that are not backed up by evidence.


Nothing will happen in the last year of Duterte given the absence of a plan on recovering from the pandemic and the recession. In fact, in the next few months, the winds of the coming presidential elections will be blowing hard and Duterte the politician will surely be concerned about his fate after 2022—as he has admitted, he is apprehensive about being made accountable for the crimes during his regime.

July 26, 2021

Group condemns arrest of 10 members on the way to SONA


Ten members of the Bulacan chapter of the militant group Partido Manggagawa (PM) and the driver of the vehicle they were using were detained and stopped from proceeding to the protest rally on the occasion of the last State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte.


“We condemn the illegal detention of our members and the violation of the right to peaceful assembly. We call for their immediate release. On Duterte’s last year in power, the pandemic of human rights violations continue even as the administration’s covid response is an epic fail,” stated Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary general.


The PM Bulacan group was on the way to the SONA rally but was stopped at a checkpoint around 8:30am. When the police saw banners and placards, the group was informed that they were in violation of "ELCAC and social distancing."


“We were all wearing masks and face shields. And the van was big enough for the ten of us to be social distancing inside,” explained Ver Estorosas, PM Bulacan chair and leader of the group. The group is still detained at the Hillcrest Caloocan sub-station 8 "pending investigation."


PM mobilized factory workers, urban poor and community youth to the SONA rally held at the Commission on Human Rights grounds. “We demand TABAKK or Trabaho, Ayuda, Bakuna, Karapatan at Kasarinlan. This set of demands correspond to the recent Pulse Asia survey in which jobs, the economy, inflation, vaccination and the West Philippine are what Filipinos want to hear of the SONA. But we have no illusions that Duterte will heed these grievances as what he is concerned now is the continuation of his regime and avoiding incarceration for the crimes committed under his bloody regime,” Miranda insisted.


Yesterday, PM joined the group Movement Against Terror Law in unfurling a giant streamer emblazoned with the slogan “Goodbye Duterte” along Commonwealth Avenue.

Photos of the PM Bulacan group can be accessed here:


July 26, 2021

Saturday, July 24, 2021

PM holds “SOtaposNA” actions to highlight plight of workers at local level

 Walang makuhang paglalarawan.

Localized online and offline protest activities were conducted Saturday afternoon by chapters of Partido Manggagawa (PM) in different parts of the country, two days before President Duterte delivers his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Areas that held local online protest activities include Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, and Tagum City.

According to Judy Miranda, PM Secretary-General, this is to highlight the plight of workers and poor communities who suffered the most under Duterte’s deficient and repressive style of governance.

“Ang ating mga komunidad ay hindi gaanong napapansin sa bangayan ng pulitika sa itaas, samantalang sila ang tunay na nakakaranas ng kahirapan at saksi sa nagaganap na karahasan at patayan sa buong bansa. Nasa komunidad ang totoong SONA,” declared Miranda.

One of the issues to highlight is the unresolved killings of PM organizers. Dennis Sequena, PM leader in Cavite, was shot dead by unknown assailants in June 2019 while giving a lecture on basic trade unionism among ecozone workers. PM organizer Orlando Abangan was killed in Talisay City, Cebu in September 2016, at the height of Duterte’s drug war. It is also in Cebu where a peaceful and legitimate protest of retrenched MEPZ workers was met by arrests and detention as in the case of the arrest of “Cebu 5” on November 30 last year.  

Other unresolved killings of PM organizers were that of Victoriano Embang (2012) and Rolando Pango (2014) in the island of Negros. These killings, the group said, though they happened during the past administration, remains an agenda of justice that the present administration has the duty to resolve.

Miranda said, “unresolved and unrelenting spate of killings and intensifying trade union repression is a marked failure of the Duterte administration, notwithstanding his epic fail on the issue of endo or contractualization, wage hike, and its poor pandemic response.”

On SONA day, PM members with their “ENDO30” props will be joining the “Despedida” rally led by the Movement against the Anti-Terrorism Act (MATA) at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) grounds.

PM will also be part of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Women’s Committee morning contingent who will submit their findings and recommendations to the CHR on the impact of COVID-19 protocols on human rights and labor rights.

24 July 2021

Friday, July 23, 2021

Riders group slams Foodpanda’s glitch alibi


The motorcycle riders’ rights group Kapatiran ng Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) slammed Foodpanda for stating that the 10-year suspension of 43 Davao-based food delivery riders was just a “technical glitch.”


Don Pangan, Kagulong secretary-general, averred that “Technical glitch is a lame excuse for Foodpanda’s corporate abuse. Foodpanda is trying to hide its anti-worker misbehavior behind digital technology. This modus operandi is no different from Foodpanda disguising its employment relationship to riders using the platform nature of work as an alibi.”


At the same time the group criticized the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for speaking on behalf of Foodpanda. “As the third party in the tripartite industrial relationship, the DOLE should show non-partisanship. If at all, the DOLE should be biased for workers as the Labor Code provides that in cases of ambiguity, labor should be favored in the interpretation,” Panga expounded.


“In fact, in this case, there is really no ambiguity as suspending workers for 10 years is a flagrant violation of the Labor Code. Workers can only be suspended for a maximum of 30 days and for actual administrative cases. Workers cannot be penalized for planning a protest that has not yet happened!” insisted Pangan.


Kagulong reminded the DOLE about its commitment “To convene a Technical Working Group (TWG) represented by rider’s groups, trade unions, worker’s organizations and concerned government agencies to start the research and investigation that would lead to creating policy standards to protect the gig workers,” Pangan recalled.


Kagulong asserted that the TWG is an urgent necessity given that Foodpanda’s action are exposing the disguised employment relationship between the app and its riders. “If riders are indeed independent contractors then they have the choice not to deliver and thus cannot be penalized. Foodpanda’s suspension reveals its control of the working conditions of riders. The control test is the key metric in determining the existence of an employee-employer relationship,” Pangan explained.


He added that “Other than the power to suspend and penalize riders for transgressions in the conduct of their work, the fact that uniforms and delivery bags are mandated by Foodpanda shows that it does control the working conditions of riders who must then be treated as employees not freelancers.”

Kapatiran ng Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong)

July 23, 2021


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Reinstate fired Foodpanda riders--rights group

 See the source image

The motorcycle riders’ rights group Kapatiran ng Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) called for the reinstatement of 43 riders based in Davao City who were suspended for 10 years by food delivery company Foodpanda. The app suspended about a hundred “accounts” attached to the riders for planning a protest concerning the diminution in their income per delivery. Some riders were later reinstated after they allegedly provided information about the scheduled protest.


Don Pangan, Kagulong secretary-general, said that “We are one with the members of Davao United Delivery Riders Association Inc. whose members are Foodpanda riders from Davao City in their struggle for just pay and against the suspension of 43 riders for 10 years because they are exercising their right to express their grievances.”


The group also welcomed the move by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to call Foodpanda and the 43 riders to a dialogue to thresh out the issue. “We are also calling on the DOLE to deliver its commitment to convene the Technical Working Group represented by rider’s groups, trade unions, worker’s organizations and concerned government agencies to start the research and investigation that would lead to creating policy standards to protect the gig workers,” Pangan insisted.


Food panda riders turned offline for two days and staged a 500-strong unity ride last July 16 to protest the app’s wage policy because they noticed they had been earning less lately from each delivery.


Grievances and protests by food delivery riders are increasing amidst their high profile as frontliners and essential workers amidst the pandemic. Last November 18, 2020 Kagulong led some 700 Foodpanda riders in Metro Manila in a protest motorcade that ended in the DOLE main office in Intramuros. The riders aired their grievances about reduced pay, imposed penalties and the lack of transparency in their working conditions.


Pangan averred that “What happened with our brothers and sisters in Davao City clearly manifested the need to probe the employment status of gig workers to ensure just pay, benefits and job security,” Pangan insisted.


In a global study (, labor researchers found out that food delivery riders launched the greatest number of protests among app or platform workers. The most prominent grievance concerned pay although employment status also figured as a secondary issue. In Asian countries such as Indonesia and India, gig workers have formed associations or unions. Similar organizing and struggles by food delivery riders in Europe, Australia and Latin America was also revealed in the study. 

Kapatiran ng Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong)

July 20, 2021