March 6, 2009
Women leaders of the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa cautioned the government against vetoing the P50 billion fund added by Congress from the budget allocated for debt servicing. They warned of protests if the veto pushes through. Yesterday the group led women workers in a picket at the Labor Department to push for subsidy and jobs.
“It is truly ironic if Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during women’s month vetoes the supplemental budget for social services and education programs that will benefit women. We want the Marcos-era automatic debt appropriations law repealed for depriving women of social services,” argued Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
Miranda furthered that “A P50 billion cut in debt servicing to fund social programs is already too little in fact. But it is better than nothing. And it is better than the P330 billion government stimulus plan which does not involve any new money and is merely a repackaging of the old budget. Yet GMA threatens to bring it back to zero.”
Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya had announced yesterday that the President might veto the provision appropriating P50 billion for the congressional aid package. Last year, the President restored interest payments for questionable loans such as the medical waste incinerators bought from an Austrian firm after Philippine environmental laws had rendered the equipment illegal.
“If indeed GMA vetoes the additional stimulus fund then she would consistent in her anti-poor, pro-banker stand. And she would be deserving of the condemnation of working women,” Miranda added.
PM is campaigning for a bailout package for working women since they are bearing the brunt of the impact of the layoffs and other flexibility schemes by employers. The group is calling for unemployment subsidy for workers, tax refund for all wage earners, PhilHealth coverage for displaced workers, a reformed public employment program, and moratorium on demolitions and evictions.
It is also calling for the reversal of the policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization which the group blames for the high prices of goods and the deterioration of public services. PM is further demanding the reallocation of the entire P700 billion debt servicing budget to fund a vastly expanded social program.