Monday, July 22, 2013

Workers challenge to PNoy’s SONA: Address inequality

Press Release
July 22, 2013

In time for President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth State of the Nation Address, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa called on the government to address the “central problem of inequality.” “We echo the Catholic bishops call to PNoy that he should do more for the poor even as workers specifically ask that government address the core issue of inequality. Despite GDP growth, mass poverty has remained unchanged and income equality has widened because only 40 wealth families are monopolizing the gains of economic development,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson.

PM together with allied labor groups under the umbrella of Nagkaisa! will mobilize this afternoon in a counter-SONA rally along Commonwealth Avenue. Workers and poor from Nagkaisa!, Freedom from Debt Coalition and Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay will assemble at 1:00 p.m. near Tandang Sora and then march towards the direction of the Batasang Pambansa.

“The next three years will just be more of the same if PNoy does not face reality. To address inequality, government must stop blaming the National Statistical Coordination Board’s data and instead fault the policies that exacerbate the gap between the rich and poor,” Magtubo asserted.

He added that “PNoy’s SONA will undoubtedly focus on proposals that serve as his legacy to the nation. But without measures to respond to the problem of inequality, PNoy’s legacy will be poverty amidst growth.’

“In his SONA, PNoy will pay lip service to inclusive growth but programs such as CCT are mere token reforms that are targeted and not universal. Workers demand comprehensive measures to solve mass unemployment, job contractualization, starvation wages and high prices of basic goods and privatized services such as water and electricity,” Magtubo elaborated.

Citing a study of Cielito Habito, Magtubo averred that “Just 40 rich families control 76% of the country’s GDP. Their combined wealth of US$ 57 billion is more than the current annual budget of government.”

He furthered that “They have not only monopolized the country’s wealth but have also taken control of our lives. They own the corporations that supply water and electricity to our homes, the biggest banks that command financial capital, the real estate businesses that have expropriated the land in the cities to the detriment of the poor, the providers of telecommunications services which everyone uses daily and even the media networks that shape popular culture and ideas.”

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