Thursday, August 19, 2021

Service contracting is a great program but the LTFRB bungled it

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) slammed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Department of Transportation (DoTr) for bungling the service contracting program. “Service contracting is a great idea but the LTFRB and DoTr bungled its implementation. Similar to the Department of Health (DOH), bad governance, if not massive corruption, attended its execution,” stated Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.


Yesterday the LTFRB released a statement belying the Commission on Audit report that only 1% of the funds for service contracting was released to beneficiary drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs). The LTFRB declared that P1.5 billion out of the P5.56 billion service contracting budget under Bayanihan 2 was disbursed.


“If that is true then only 25% of service contracting funds reached 50,000 drivers nationwide. There are already 120,000 transport workers in NCR alone, a conservative estimate based on one worker per PUV. The rest of the funds has been returned to the treasury without benefiting hundreds of thousands of needy and hungry transport workers. This is no different from hospital workers who decried the DOH for not granting hazard pay and benefits to deserving health care workers,” Magtubo added.


Ross Natividad, president of the Yellow Bus Line Employees Union (YBLEU), called on the LTFRB to shape up and respond to the demands of transport workers. YBL plies the South Cotabato to Davao route Mindanao. “It pains us to hear there are billions in funds that have not reached transport workers who are needy and hungry. YBL drivers, conductors, dispatchers and mechanics are becoming desperate since most of them had no regular income for more than a year already,” Natividad said.


He explained that the LTFRB contracted YBL for only two months of “libreng sakay” for APORs and HCWs from May to June 2021. “This was for only 14 buses then 48 buses but YBL has 190 units in total. Thus a majority of YBL workers did not benefit. Still, many of those who were lucky to be onboarded have not received their payouts,” Natividad explained.


He demanded that “We call on the LTFRB and DoTr to exercise tripartism and social dialogue so that it hears the concerns of workers. Only drivers were considered beneficiaries while conductors and other bus workers were not. The union had to negotiate with the company so that conductors can also work under service contracting and receive pay.”


Magtubo averred that “Service contracting must be rebooted. It should go beyond ayuda and libreng sakay as is being implemented now. Service contracting under the PUV Modernization program is a mechanism to formalize and improve the transport industry so that we have sustainable and livable cities. Through service contracting, government ensures the delivery of safe, comfortable and efficient public transport by engaging jeepney cooperatives and bus companies on long-term contracts and mandating regular employment with social protection for transport workers.” 

August 19, 2021


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Riders group slams DOLE advisory on food delivery and courier work

The motorcycle riders’ rights group Kapatiran ng Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) criticized the recently released labor advisory by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on food delivery and courier work. “The DOLE is engaged in smoke and mirrors. It pretends to do something in the face of platform work disputes when it actually is not resolving anything by issuing a useless advisory,” argued Don Pangan, Kagulong secretary-general.


Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello signed Labor Advisory 14 entitled “Working Conditions of Delivery Riders in Food Delivery and Courier Activities” on July 23 but it was posted on the DOLE website only last July 27.


“The DOLE avers in the advisory that food delivery riders are protected by labor law and their contracts. On the contrary, the advisory affirms what presently exists—that the majority if not almost all food delivery riders are considered independent contractors and thus at the mercy of opaque app policies and algorithms,” Pangan insisted.


He added that “The ongoing dispute of Foodpanda delivery riders in Davao emphasizes precisely this point—food delivery riders are not protected by labor law since they are deemed freelancers despite the app controlling the means and methods of how they work.”


Kagulong calls on the DOLE to immediately implement 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. This commitment was the result of the pre-Labor Day summits called by the DOLE as part of drafting the National Economic Recovery Strategy.


Pangan also clarified that the labor dispute of the Davao Foodpanda riders remains unresolved as the company did not attend the mediation meeting called by the DOLE last Monday. The DOLE later admitted that Foodpanda refuses to attend tripartite meetings and will only meet riders on a bilateral basis.


“Pasaway ang Foodpanda. Divide and rule ang taktika nila. It clearly does not want to be covered by the labor law so that it can do anything that it pleases—like suspending riders for 10 years and reducing their pay unilaterally. In the face of this intransigence by Foodpanda, the DOLE lies prostrate even though it has the power to issue a Department Order to clarify and resolve such workplace grievances,” Pangan stated. 

Kapatiran ng Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong)

July 29, 2021

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