12/09/2008 12:08 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Militant workers and urban poor on Tuesday started a two-day protest demonstration as they marched from Las Piñas City to Baclaran to oppose moves to push Charter change.
In a statement, Partido ng Manggagawa said members from various militant groups started the march 8 a.m. to the Redemptionist Church in Baclaran where they were met by other groups from depressed communities of Manila's Tondo district and the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.
The group will then march to the Department of Labor and Employment via Taft Avenue where participants from Caloocan, Bulacan and Rizal are expected to join them. At 6:00 p.m. the protesters will hold a noise barrage at the Welcome Rotonda.
The labor groups are expected to make an overnight vigil and then merge with farmers’ groups that will troop to the Batasang Pambansa on Wednesday.
Partido ng Manggagawa Secretary- General Judy Ann Miranda said instead of focusing on Charter change, the government should first address more basic concerns to help the poor cope with the global economic crisis.
"The reduction in self-rated poverty revealed in the SWS survey does not mean the government is doing its job well. In fact it is doing its job badly and so the people are just reducing their standard of living as a coping mechanism. Rather than focusing on Cha-cha in order to remove the protectionist provisions of the constitution, the government must instead prioritize protection for the workers and the poor so they could deal with the global crisis," Miranda said.
The group also echoed calls for the continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Miranda said that the government should also consider coming up with a "stimulus package" that may include a subsidy to all private sector workers, government employees and OFW's who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they are re-employed up to a maximum of six months.
In addition, she urged the government to declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to two months wage as well as a public employment program for over four million unemployed Filipinos.
Tha protest rally will be a prelude to the anti-Charter change rally scheduled on December 10 in Makati City which will be participated by Catholic bishops, Labor union groups, militant groups, transport groups and students. - Mikhaela De Leon, GMANews.TV