Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Unity ride by Citi Muber riders to demand inclusion in motorcycle taxi test run



November 24, 2020


Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (KAGULONG)

WHAT: Thousands of Citi Muber Riders will hold UNITY RIDE to demand inclusion of 3000 Citi Muber riders in Motorcycle Taxi Test Run at LTFRB. 

WHEN: Tomorrow, Nov. 25, 2020


8am – Assembly and short program at University Avenue corner Emilio Jacinto Street UP Diliman

9:30am – Motorcade to LTFRB. 

For further details, contact Don Pangan@09953862722. ###

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Foodpanda riders protest harassed by police, 1 arrested



Some 700 riders of the food delivery app Foodpanda held a “unity ride” today to seek redress of their grievances. However the peaceful protest at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was marred by an altercation with police from the Intramuros station. Jack Vergara of the Food Panda Riders Association was arrested while the cellphone of Romeo Maglunsod of the Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (KAGULONG) was confiscated by the police.


“We condemn the harassment by the Manila police of a peaceful concerted action by workers that is a constitutionally guaranteed right. We ask Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to ensure that workers’ right to redress of grievances is observed at the DOLE area. That is traditionally a site of protest but police are now using the pandemic as an excuse to suppress the right to peaceful assembly,” stated Rene Magtubo, national chair of Partido Manggagawa which is supporting the Foodpanda riders.


The Foodpanda riders assembled at the Film Center/Cultural Center of the Philippines area before proceeding to the DOLE to seek an audience and deliver a letter addressed to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello.


The groups are asking the DOLE to conduct an inspection for the purpose of resolving the grievances of the Foodpanda riders. Riders are discontented over recent changes in Foodpanda policies that have negatively affected their pay and working conditions.


“Pay is tied to bookings which are affected by so-called ‘grades.’ But the grading system is opaque. Grades have fallen due to changes in the system which penalize riders. Pay has also been reduced per delivery due to a new system,” explained Don Pangan of KAGULONG.


Further, a policy called “undispatch” forces riders to rush in order to pick up an order, thereby putting their safety at peril. The groups are demanding the removal of “undispatch,” and transparency and fairness in policies, including the computation of the pay for deliveries.


Pangan added that “Food Panda riders are called delivery partners but in reality are employees of the company owning the app. Food Panda riders are subject to control and supervision of the company as shown by the impact of policy changes on pay and condition. Foodpanda riders are not independent contractors but ordinary employees of th company owning the app.”


The groups are calling on the DOLE to act on their request for dialogue and inspection. “This is only the start of our advocacy for the rights and welfare of Foodpanda rider and other gig workers. Ang laban ng Foodpanda riders ay laban ng lahat ng gig workers,” insisted Pangan.

Food Panda Riders Association

Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (KAGULONG)

November 18, 2020


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Media Advisory: Unity ride by Foodpanda drivers today


18 November 2020




WHEN:  NOVEMBER 18, 2020







Sunday, November 15, 2020


 By Wilson Fortaleza*


The Philippines’ contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission does not even reach one half of one percent of the world’s total, but Filipinos are paying a hefty price for the massive loss of lives, injuries, loss of jobs, and the physical destruction of shelters, farms, and government infrastructures.  While those who pollute the planet most, the filthy rich capitalist countries and their transnational corporations (TNCs), wallow in wealth in the safety of their highly-secured havens.


The grim images of every typhoon’s aftermath show not only the horrors of devastation but also the cost that come hard to imagine.  Costs are enormous, but do we have any idea how much they are in peso or in dollar terms? And who, by the way, are paying those bills and at what cost?


Storm leaves a price tag


Damage from “Ulysses” (Vamco) as of this writing remains partial. Preliminary estimates as of November 13, 2020 by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) placed damages at P4.254B ($88.29M).[1]  Damage from “Ulysses” is believed to be far-reaching than “Ondoy” (Ketsana) as the former brought more areas under water, including Cagayan, when big dams up north released waters that exceed their holding capacity.


There are conflicting reports in terms of the number of fatalities as government agencies issue contrasting figures.  The NDRRM counts 42 in its latest report. The police count is 53. Ondoy, which hit mostly the eastern and southern part of Metro Manila and Central Luzon, left 747 dead in 2009. Its damage to agriculture was estimated to have reached P3.1B ($64.3M).[2] Another report estimated Ondoy’s total damage to have reached $1.09B.[3]


“Ulysses” came just several days after two powerful typhoons, “Rolly” (Goni) and “Quinta” (Molave) hit the southern part of Luzon. News reports said the combined damage to agriculture from both is estimated to reach P4.6B ($95.46M). Total cost of damage from ‘Rolly’, the strongest as of date for 2020, was P11B ($228.27M).[4]


In 2016, the Philippine government has conducted an official accounting of the total damages from natural disasters that hit the country from 2006-2015. The 2016 Compendium of Philippine Environment Statistics (CPES) came up with the total of P374B ($7.76B). It includes damage to agriculture worth P225.63B ($4.67B), infrastructure P81.97B ($1.70B), and private property at P66.598B ($1.38B)[5].


But another study indicates that damage from the 2013 “Yolanda” (Hyan) alone, the strongest typhoon on earth ever which killed 6,300 people, injured 28,688, left 1,062 missing persons, 16,078,181 affected persons, and damaged 1,140,332 houses have reached P571.1B ($11.85B), according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).[6] In a separate report the International Labor Organization (ILO) said some 6 million jobs were affected in areas hit by “Yolanda”, while another 800,000 were destroyed by typhoon “Hagupit” (Ruby) a year later.[7]


Who’s footing the bill?


The PIDS report said the Philippines, based on catastrophe modeling, faces an annual average of P133.2B losses due to tropical cyclones and P43.5B from earthquake. Now, how do we fund regular disasters which price come higher than this average as we have shown above?


The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), commonly known as calamity fund, and the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) have been created for this purpose. Over the last 3 years, however, their allocation suffered funding cuts when they should be increasing amidst the intensifying climate crisis. The NDRMFF fund was raised to P38.9B in 2016 from P6B in 2011 but it was cut to P15.755B in 2017[8]. A P30B calamity fund was proposed for 2019 but it was cut again by Congress to P19.6B. The fund for 2020 was reduced again to P16B. The allotment for the proposed 2021 budget is P20B[9], only a billion higher than the newly-concocted P19B fund for ending the local communist insurgency.


Evidently, this level of funding never meets even the most immediate post-disaster needs of Filipinos, notwithstanding the bottlenecks and issues of corruption in the response process. In other words, most of the post recovery efforts come from the people themselves and, in the case of businesses where 99 percent are micro in scale, the resiliency of enterprising Pinoys.


For ordinary workers who earn $6 only in the daily average wage, this glorified concept of Filipino resiliency is nothing but a leveled up sacrifice in the face of ever-increasing neglect and hostility by the ruling elite. This resiliency, I hope, would later advance into a level of resistance; otherwise, the working class is locked inside this cycle of permanent sacrifice.


The Filipino people have been making a lot of sacrifices from climate crisis.  And government funds regularly allocated for disaster response are money taken out from the much needed social services. We should assert that funding for climate change damages must come from external sources, particularly from Annex 1 countries.[10] Officially, the country has also been committing significant emission reductions targets (70%) in climate negotiations. Yet those who are assigned to foot the bill, the highly industrialized countries, are failing in their financial obligations. 


Climate reparation


As the current climate change narrative departs from natural to man-made causes, so must the consciousness of the working class is on this issue. For what we seek is no longer which between the natural and man-made phenomenon has a greater value in the climate change debate, but who among the most responsible have the greatest price to pay for the bill for climate damage.


Climate scientists have closed this ‘natural’ vs ‘man-made’ debate several years back when they all pointed to industrial activities over the last 50 years or so which cause the rapid increase in GHG emissions, thus, the rise in global temperature. In short, capitalist countries which own those great carbon emitting industries owe developing countries like the Philippines billions of dollars in climate debt. And since they were responsible for the climate crisis, they earn a price to pay for the climate damage that is happening in poorer and most vulnerable countries.


There is mounting cry for climate justice from the South. There must be reparation from the North.


But victims have climate obligations, too, in ensuring reduction in carbon emissions. Workers do understand this duty as more jobs and sources of life will be destroyed as the planet keeps on warming. Moreover, we truly recognize that the only way to stop the planet from heating up further is by shifting the production and consumption processes in favour of low-carbon economic activities.


The Philippine labor agenda on recovery


COVID-19 merely compounded these pre-pandemic problems. But decoupling climate from the health crisis, which the Duterte government consciously does in terms of emergency response and recovery program, is ignoring the interconnectedness of these crises and rejecting the viability of nature and employment-based strategy for recovery in favour of market-based, business-as-usual solutions.


It is for this reason that workers organizations in the Philippines affiliated with the broad labor coalition Nagkaisa (United) are pushing for a labor agenda on recovery which includes demands for income and employment guarantees[11] to address the deteriorating jobs crisis. Our demand for employment guarantee contains a proposal for the creation of climate jobs in renewable energy, housing and building sector, transportation, and nature conservation.


We are advancing this climate jobs agenda based on the principles that recovery should not just heal but also make people more healthy and secure; that it does not simply restore lost jobs and free markets but one which creates green, decent jobs and a sustainable future.  We also campaign for a tax on wealth[12] to finance the recovery and development agenda.


Needless to say, that recovery from COVID-19 and the transition to a safer and better world can be made faster and viable when binding climate justice and reparation obligations replace the menial act of donations and loans coming from the rich capitalist nations. ###

*Wilson Fortaleza is a member of the Executive Committee of the Partido Manggagawa and one of the convenors of Nagkaisa Labor Coalition.

[1] https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1360146/ulysses-leaves-p4-25-b-damage-to-infra-dpwh

[5] Natural Disaster Damage at P374B in 2006-2015.” Business World. Bworldonline.com. February 5, 2018. https://www.bworldonline.com/natural-disaster-damage-p374b-2006-2015/

[6] https://pidswebs.pids.gov.ph/CDN/PUBLICATIONS/pidsdps1721.pdf

[7] International Labour Organization, 100 days on, Haiyan survivors need more jobs to recover [Feature]. 17 February 2014.   https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/multimedia/features/WCMS_235730/lang--en/index.htm

[8] Ibid, PIDS.

Friday, October 30, 2020

DOLE asked to recall order extending floating status

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is being asked by the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) to recall the order extending the floating status of workers to one year. The group called on the DOLE to re-submit the proposal to the deliberation of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) where labor, employers and government are represented.


“We appeal to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to recall DO 215. DOLE orders should be subject to tripartite agreement and not be unilateral decisions of government,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.


He wondered why the DOLE pushed through with extending the floating status of workers when labor groups were firm in their opposition to the proposal when it was tabled in an NTIPC meeting.


PM countered the position of Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez that extending the floating status is a measure to protect workers. “DO 215 is pro-employer as it allows them to evade payment of separation benefits to workers who are now more than six months on forced leave,” insisted Magtubo.


According to PM, thousands of workers have already filed complaints for constructive dismissal because their employers have not reinstated them since the lockdown started in March. “Who will benefit from the dismissal of these cases because of DO 215? Thus the DOLE is being disingenuous when it says that DO 215 is protective of workers,” Magtubo stated.


He also answered DOLE’s claim that the Labor Code is silent on the floating status of workers: “Article 310 provides that workers are deemed not terminated—meaning employees are put on forced leave or floating status—when the operations of a company are suspended, which is the scenario at present. But Article 301 explicitly mandates that such suspension cannot exceed six months—and for good reason more than half a year is too long for workers to suffer on no work, no pay.”


He recalled that the DOLE earlier floated the deferment of the 13th month pay but backtracked because of outrage over the proposal. PM is calling on workers to similarly express opposition to DO 215.


Magtubo maintained that “DO 215 is another example of DOLE’s social distancing from workers in the time of covid. Earlier DOLE released a series of orders and advisories such as DO 213 that suspended complaints and inspections and LA 17 that allowed diminution of wages and benefits. All these disadvantaged workers impacted by the lockdown and opened them to abuse by employers. Labor’s challenge finally led to DO 213’s repeal by DO 214 which permitted the operation of the dispute resolution mechanisms for workers.” 

October 30, 2020