Saturday, February 12, 2011

Salute to the victorious people power uprising in Egypt

Press Statement
February 12, 2011
Renato Magtubo
Chair, Partido ng Manggagawa

We salute the victorious people power uprising in Egypt against the Mubarak dictatorship. It is high time that the last pharaoh is buried in the desert. But the Egyptian people must not repeat the original sin of people power in the Philippines. They must not stop at simply changing the facesof the person in power but must continue on to uprooting the system that breeds poverty and unemployment.

The resignation of Murabak is only the first act of the drama that will play out in Egypt. It is game over for the dictator but with the military taking power, nobody knows how the game of the generals will play out. A civilian government ruling over a democratic and secular Egypt is still uncertain. The struggle of the courageous people and workers of Egypt for “tahrir” is unfinished.

Nonetheless we welcome the rebirth of an independent workers movement in Egypt. While evidently it was the youth of Egypt that sparked and led the uprising, the workers and their strikes later sustained and strengthened the uprising. The role of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter have been highlighted but in the background the strike movement of Egyptian workers since 2008 prepared the way and propelled the uprising to its victory.

While the popular uprisings in the Arab countries are directed at corrupt dictatorships, the underlying causes are the pervasive dissatisfaction at the lack of jobs and opportunities primarily among the youth but also among workers and even the middle class. Globalization has ravaged the Arab region as much as the Philippines. Unemployment, contractualization, retrenchment, rising prices and stagnant wages are also the norm in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. Everywhere the masses have become poorer while only the elite have become richer under globalization.

In fact, unrest may break out in the Philippines similar to Arab uprisings due to the rising prices of food and oil combined with worsening unemployment and poverty. Nobody was able to predict the explosion in the Arab region and nobody can discount unrest in the Philippines due to similar conditions of widespread desperation especially among the youth.

The prices of rice, bread, sugar, oil and gas together with transport fares and even toll fees are increasing thus squeezing the stagnant wages and incomes of workers and the poor. Today the unrest is expressed in the resistance of Philippine Airlines (PAL) workers against layoff and outsourcing. Tomorrow who knows if the struggle becomes generalized with high prices and food crisis making the lack of jobs and stagnant incomes unbearable?

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