Friday, December 26, 2014

Subsidy is a good social policy; corruption and fraud are privileges of the rich and powerful

News Release
December 26, 2014

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) supported the view of Senator Allan Peter Cayetano that unless trillions of pesos of lost revenue due to smuggling, tax evasion and official corruption is plugged, the removal of MRT/LRT subsidy is painfully and socially unjust. 
“Subsidy is a good social policy.  It is a right, an entitlement of poor people while corruption and fraud are privileges enjoyed by the rich and powerful.  By removing the subsidy, the government is renouncing  a good policy,” said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.
Quoting the World Bank, Cayetano said in every P1 collected by the government, P2 remain uncollected. This is estimated to be between P2 to P4 trillion of lost revenue or bigger than the recently approved budget of P2.6 trillion.
The Senator said he will take up this issue next year amid the plan by the government to remove government subsidy to the metro rail system. The plan will double the MRT and LRT fares beginning January 4. 
The labor coalition Nagkaisa in which PM is a member will be meeting next week to draw up plans against the impending fare hike.
Fallacy
Fortaleza said removing the P7-P10 billion annual train subsidy to free up money for other social services is a fallacious argument, saying the poor, who are entitled to government subsidy in varying degrees, should not, by class or geographical locations, be pitted against each other.
“This is comparable to the fact that businesses across all industries also enjoy billions of pesos of subsidy in the forms of tax holidays, financial assistance, free repatriation as well as import and export privileges.  For instance the power industry, the most lucrative business in the country today, received a total of P5.2 billion of subsidy in 2012, according to the 2012 Census of Philippine Business and Industry,” said Fortaleza.
Fortaleza reiterated his group’s position that it is more productive to provide annual subsidy to the estimated 500 million rides of blue collar workers and students who utilize the trains regularly than the luxurious lifestyles of 500 public officials.
Revenue and job loss
The labor group likewise bewailed the huge revenue losses coming from tax evasion and smuggling, saying the failure to address this age-old problem created a ‘pass-on’ culture in public policy. 
“This is the reason why the burden shifted heavily to indirect taxes like VAT and taxes withheld from wage earners.  At the same time smuggling creates abundance of cheap imported goods at the detriment of local producers.  And now the removal of subsidies,” lamented Fortaleza.

Fortaleza added that smuggled goods have no local labor component, which is both a revenue and job loss to Filipinos. ###

Monday, December 22, 2014

MRT/LRT fare hike adds violence to crumbling mass transport system

NEWS RELEASE
22 December 2014
 
Increasing the fares in the metro railway system more than half from current rates is totally unjust and the most insensitive year-ender policy declaration by the Aquino administration, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.
 
“Most of train riders are ordinary workers who pay P15 or P20 for every violent ride in our present railway system. A fare increase will add more to this violence,” said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.
 
Fortaleza explained that a fare increase, particularly in MRT3, would neither mean comfort nor improvement in services as more than 70% of its finances goes to equity rental to MRTC, its original private concessionaire.
 
As per announcement made by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the fare matrix in the three systems shall be adjusted beginning January 4, 2015.  These will include 87% hike (from P15-P28) for MRT 3; 67% (from P15-P24) for LRT 2; and 50% (from P29-P30) for LRT 1.
 
PM together with other groups under the labor coalition Nagkaisa will be planning mass actions to oppose the scheduled fare hikes.
 
Fortaleza said based on a previous study[1], 67.7% of regular train commuters earned monthly income of less than P10,000 or less than the minimum wage; some 15% are without income (probably students); while only 1.4% are with income of P30,000.
 
PM is opposing the impending fare hike based on the following grounds:
 
§  The fare hike is due to the removal of subsidy and not for the comfort of the riding public.
§  It is a huge burden to commuters, most of whom are ordinary workers who receive starvation wages.
§  The increase is for rental payments to an onerous original contract and an incentive to prospective private concessionaires under the public-private partnership or PPP program.
§  That less subsidy means funds for other services is a pale, fallacious argument.
 
The group argued that in  most countries worldwide the railway system, which is the most efficient mass transport system, is heavily subsidized.
 
In its position paper submitted to the DOTC during its previous consultations, PM believes that subsidy is not a bad thing if it is in pursuit of social objective.  The government should even invest more money to save and develop the country’s crumbling mass transport system.
 
“To us, subsidizing at least 500 million rides of workers a year is more productive than subsidizing the comfortable travel of 500 VIPs in government,” said Fortaleza, adding that all taxpayers pay for at least P8-billion a year of travel subsidy for our public officials.
 
The group, which opposes the privatization of the railway system, likewise believe that the fare adjustments were meant as a major  incentive for private players who demand highly competitive pricing to be  in place before they actually enter a PPP project.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DFA request for Pemberton custody is pabalat-bunga, lacks weight of a sovereign state

Press Release
December 18, 2014

The Partido Manggagawa (PM) viewed the effort of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to request custody of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, prime suspect in the killing of transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, as insincere or “pabalat-bunga” since pleading for it through a ceremonial letter lacks the weight of a sovereign state.

“The DFA was basically pleading to get back the sovereignty we lost under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). And the most stupid thing is to do it now is through a formal request,” said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.

In the first place, Fortaleza argued, the DFA was not expecting US approval of its request because prior to commission of any crime by American soldiers, the government has already agreed to the provision that gave US the right to retain custody of its personnel involved in crimes in Philippine soil. 

According to PM, the request was rather intended to pacify growing criticisms over a kind of foreign policy blunder that borders on outright surrender if not patent subservience to a colonial master. 

Until said provision is deleted from the VFA, including other devious provisions in favor of US interest, Filipinos cannot expect justice for the likes of Jennifer, and would-be victims of American soldiers in Philippine soil. 


PM added that the Philippines can effectively get hold of Pemberton only if it acts like a free nation and its foreign policy presided not by a certified Amboy. PM, together with other militant groups, is calling for the scrapping of the VFA and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Group asks UN Special Rapporteur to query Negros labor activist killings

Press Release
December 10, 2014
  
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the Partido Manggagawa asked UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst to inquire on the killings of labor activists in Negros Occidental. “The culture of impunity and extra-judicial killings of labor activists persists under the administration of Benigno Aquino III. In the last two years, two farm worker leaders have been killed while another survived an assassination attempt, all in Negros where agrarian and labor disputes simmer,” stated Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

Forst is in the Philippines and has expressed interest in requesting the government for an official visit and investigation after meeting with human rights groups over the past several days. Two predecessors of Forst were unable to obtain invitations from the government to inquire into reports of attacks against human rights defenders in the country.

The spate of killings against worker and land rights defenders in Negros happened amidst agrarian and labor disputes between farm workers and sugar planters. Last November 29, Rolando Pango, a PM member, labor leader in Binalbagan town and an organizer in neighboring Isabela town died after being shot in the head by two men. Pango had previously received death threats while he was assisting workers of Hacienda Salud in Isabela town in processing for coverage under land reform and in filing illegal dismissal charges against landlord Manuel “Manolet” Lamata. Lamata heads the powerful Negros sugar planters association.

PM also called on the Department of Labor and Employment, the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council and the Department of Justice to take cognizance of Pango’s case as they have a mandate to act on labor-related extra-judicial killings.

Since 2011, the labor coalition Nagkaisa!, of which PM is an affiliate, has been engaged in dialogue with the Aquino administration on key labor issues, including some 62 unsolved cases of labor-related extra-judicial killings.

Magtubo added that in December 29, 2012, Victoriano Embang, president of the Maria Cecilia Farm Workers Association (MACFAWA) in Moises Padilla town, was killed amidst another agrarian and labor dispute with the influential Montillano clan. His brother, Anterio, also a leader of MACFAWA, later survived an ambush in February 28, 2013.

Still PM insisted that the most widespread infringement of human rights in the labor front is the violation of workers’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.


“The onslaught of state-sanctioned contractualization schemes have effectively disarmed workers of their ability to defend themselves, through their unions, against many forms of abuse and exploitation” concluded Magtubo.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Extra-judicial killings, other human rights violations persist under ‘tuwid na daan’ – Nagkaisa!

NEWS RELEASE
NAGKAISA!
09 December 2014

A culture of impunity translated into extra-judicial killings (EJK) and other forms of human rights violations against leaders and labor organizers continue under the ‘tuwid na daan’, a coalition of major trade unions and labor organizations in the country, Nagkaisa!, said in a statement on the eve of the celebration of International Human Rights Day.

Since 2011, Nagkaisa! is engaged in dialogues with the Aquino administration on several labor issues, including some 62 unsolved cases of EJKs involving labor.

Nagkaisa! said the most recent in the cases of unsolved EJKs was the  murder of a labor organizer in Negros Occidental.  Rolando Pango, a full time organizer of Partido Manggagawa (PM) was gunned down in Binalbagan town in Negros Occidental on Novermber 29, 2014.

“Prior to his death, Pango was deeply involved in both the agrarian and labor disputes in Hacienda Salud, a 135-hectare sugar plantation in Barangay Rumirang, Isabela leased and managed by Manuel Lamata,”said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

Aside from EJKs, Nagkaisa! is also alarmed at the resurgence of other forms of human rights violations. 
Last October,  Antonio Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper, was arrested on trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.  The union and the management were then in the thick of labor dispute when the case was filed against Quizon.

 Pango was instrumental in organizing the plantation workers in Hacienda Salud who in June applied the land under CARPER coverage.  Salud workers has also filed of a case of illegal dismissal before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) against Lamata for unlawful termination 41 workers.

PM and Nagkaisa is calling on both the national and local governments to render immediate justice to this case. 

Josua Mata, Secretary General of Alliance of Progressive Labor–Sentro, said Nagkaisa will be raising this issue before the Tripartite Industrial Council (TIPC) and the DOJ panel investigating the EJKs.

“Like Ruby, solving cases of EJKs in the country is a slow-grind,” said Mata.

Before Pango, another PM organizer, Victoriano Embang, leader of Maria Cecilia Farm Workers Association (MACFAWA) in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental was also killed on December 29, 2012.  A failed assassination attempt against his brother, Anterio Embang, followed  few months later, February 28, 2013.
A Negrense himself, Magtubo said Negros remains a ‘labor hotspot’ because of strong resistance by landlords to agrarian reform and their outmoded serf-type treatment of their laborers. 

“Perhaps this regional feudal context has escaped the eyes of the labor department and the national government.  Or they simply don’t care” added Magtubo.

But the most widespread of human rights violations, Nagkaisa! said, is the violation of labor’s right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.


“The onslaught of state-sanctioned contractualization schemes have effectively disarmed workers of their ability to defend themselves, through their unions, against many forms of abuse and exploitation” concluded Magtubo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Group condemns killing of labor leader in Negros

Press Release
December 3, 2014

A week to go before the observance of international human rights day, the Partido Manggagawa (PM) condemned the assassination of a labor leader and organizer in Negros Occidental last November 29.

“The culture of impunity thrives in our country and the extra-judicial killings of labor activists continue unabated. We ask the state—the provincial government of Negros Occidental and the national agencies Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights—to act with dispatch on the case and make a thorough investigation,” asserted Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

Rolando Pango, a farm worker leader in his hometown of Binalbagan and an organizer in the neighboring town of Isabela, was shot dead in the head by two men late in the evening of November 29. Pango on his way home after meeting farm workers who were to attend the Bonifacio Day rally when the motorcycle he was riding was blocked by a black sedan and another motorcycle in the crossing of Hacienda Garrason in Binalbagan.

“For the commemoration of human rights day, we want action not words, reform not speeches from the Aquino administration. The mastermind and perpetrators of the murder of Pango and other labor activists must be brought to justice,” insisted Renato Magtubo, PM chair and a Negrense from Bacolod. A 300-strong workers assembly in Bacolod resolved a day after Pango’s death to seek justice and campaign for a resolution to the killing.

PM believes that Pango’s killing arose from a labor and agrarian dispute that he was engaged in. Pango had received a death threat from an ex-NPA rebel with an alias “Mike” who now serves an armed bodyguard of Manuel “Manolet” Lamata, a landlord who had leased and manages Hacienda Salud, a 135-hectare sugar plantation in Barangay Rumirang, Isabela.

Magtubo called on the Department of Labor and Employment and the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council to table the case of Pango.

Pango was assisting farm workers in seeking coverage of Hacienda Salud under land reform and also in illegal dismissal cases against Lamata. Since last year, the farm workers had endured successive violent harassment and bribery attempts at the hands of Lamata, who heads the powerful Negros sugar planters group, as the agrarian and labor disputes festered.


Pango’s murder follows the assassination of another farm worker leader in Isabela in December 2012. Victoriano Embang, head of the sugar workers association of Hacienda Maria Cecilia, was ambushed by two men riding in tandem in a motorcycle. Embang’s workers association was also embroiled in agrarian and labor disputes with their capitalist landlord, the Montillanos.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Belmonte cha-cha, killing and jailing of unionists mark Bonifacio Day demands

Press Release
November 30, 2014
As thousands of workers commemorate the 151st birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, the militant group Partido Manggagawa (PM) highlighted labor’s demand for a rejection of the charter change initiative of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and the continuing repression of unions by capitalists and the government.
“On the very eve of Bonifacio Day, Rolando Pango, a labor organizer in Negros Occidental was abducted and then assassinated as he was on the way to meet sugar workers who will join today’s mass actions. Meanwhile in Toledo City in Cebu province, mine union president Tony Cuizon is in jail on trumped up charges. The arrest of Cuizon and murder of Pango are symptomatic of the repression suffered by workers fighting for their rights.” stated Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.
Marches are also being held today in the cities of Cebu, Bacolod and Davao in coordination with the main demonstration in Manila. In Manila, PM members are joining workers from other the labor groups comprising the labor coalition Nagkaisa in marching this morning from Welcome Rotunda to Mendiola for a program until noon.
Workers oppose Belmonte’s economic cha-cha as it carries the same old agenda of giving foreign capital more flexibility and freedom in doing business in the country. While Congress makes an x’mas rush to vote on the cha-cha as demanded by imperialist Santas, it turns a deaf ear to workers demands for enabling laws to the living wage, security of tenure and full employment provisions of the Constitution,” stated Fortaleza.
Nagkaisa is also criticizing the anti-labor policies pursued or tolerated by the Aquino administration such as contractualization, cheap labor, high cost of power, and the deepening inequality created under the general condition of jobless growth.
Pango’s assassination happened after he assisted some 40 workers of Hacienda Salud in the town of Isabela in filing illegal dismissal and labor standards violations against landlord Manolette Lamatan, who heads the Negros planters association. Cuizon has been incarcerated for more than a month now after he was arrested because a warrant for illegal possession of firearms and explosives which his union claims was planted.
PM vowed to mobilize workers in a campaign to fight the economic cha-cha. “The Bonifacio Day rally is the opening fire of the campaign to oppose Belmonte’s cha-cha and the Christmas holidays will not dampen workers resolve to resist this new attempt to tear up the token nationalist provisions of the Constitution,” Fortaleza insisted.

He added that “Belmonte and company is concocting an untested formula in constitutional amendments thru a joint resolution loaded with the sinister insertion ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ which can be utilized anytime the need for actual amendment arises. Belmonte’s cha-cha is surely waiting for an intense legal and extra-legal battle.”

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Workers to call for rejection of Belmonte cha-cha in Bonifacio rally

Press Release
November 29, 2014

The rejection of the charter change move led by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte will be a highlight of tomorrow’s big Bonifacio Day rally, declared the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM).

“Workers oppose Belmonte’s economic cha-cha as it carries the same old agenda of giving foreign capital more flexibility and freedom in doing business in the country. While Congress makes an x’mas rush to vote on the chac-cha as demanded by foreign Santas, it gives a deaf ear to workers demands for enabling laws to the living wage and security of tenure provisions of the Constitution,” stated Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

Several thousand workers from the groups comprising the labor coalition Nagkaisa will commemorate the 151st anniversary of the plebian hero Andres Bonifacio by marching from Welcome Rotunda to Mendiola tomorrow morning. Aside from opposing Belmonte’s cha-cha, workers will also criticize the anti-labor policies pursued or tolerated by the Aquino administration such as contractualization, cheap labor, high cost of power, and the deepening inequality created under the general condition of jobless growth.

“The motive force for the economic cha-cha is clearly exposed by the fact that Belmonte’s announcement of a pre-x’mas vote came right after the House leadership met with representatives of foreign chambers of commerce and local business groups,” Fortaleza argued.

PM vowed to mobilize workers in a campaign to fight the economic cha-cha. “The Bonifacio Day rally is the opening fire of the campaign to oppose Belmonte’s cha-cha and the Christmas holidays will not dampen workers resolve to resist this new attempt to tear up the token nationalist provisions of the Constitution,” Fortaleza insisted.

He added that “Belmonte and company is concocting an untested formula in constitutional amendments thru a joint resolution loaded with the sinister insertion ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ which can be utilized anytime the need for actual amendment arises. Belmonte’s cha-cha is surely waiting for an intense legal and extra-legal battle.”


The theme of Nagkaisa’s Bonifacio Day rally will be “Hanap ng manggagawa: Makamanggagawang lider ng bansa.” Thus the labor coalition is giving notice to political wannabes that their early plunge to the 2016 elections is giving workers a bad impression, that their attention now are all in pursuit of their personal political ambitions and not the urgent demands of the working class.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Power crisis real, strategic but gov’t doing mere quick fix – labor coalition

NEWS RELEASE
NAGKAISA
28 November 2014
  
The emerging power crisis is a cruel outcome of a bad policy under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) that cannot be resolved by the proposed emergency power President Aquino is seeking from Congress, the labor coalition Nagkaisa said in a statement.

The group said it is not common for ordinary workers to comment on techno-economic aspects of the power industry, but for this coming celebration of Bonifacio Day on November 30, labor will come out loud on this along with other big issues because the high cost of power in the country is making the lives of ordinary workers more miserable.

According to Wilson Fortaleza, spokesperson for Partido Manggagawa (PM) and one of the convenors of Nagkaisa,  “this quick-fix solution via an emergency power to address a decade-old problems of escalating rates and diminishing supply reignited labor’s apprehension that once again, a power crisis is being transformed into business opportunity for the private sector.”

Fortaleza was referring to the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) and power contracting being pursued through a joint resolution in Congress that would grant the President emergency powers to address the expected power shortage in 2015. 

He said the ILP can be pursued by the Department of Energy (DoE) even without the President exercising emergency powers because it is merely a demand-side management issue and not production of additional generating capacity as required under Section 71 of EPIRA.  

"Likewise, the foreign and privately-operated National Grid Corporation must first be made to account for its primary responsibility to secure reliable supply, including sufficient reserve capacities,"argued Fortaleza.

The group explained that the ILP is a mode for utilizing standby power or embedded generating capacity available in several establishments such as malls and commercial buildings. During shortage, their utilization means an x amount of freed megawatt capacity that can be supplied by Meralco to other users. 

Fortaleza, however, said that for this alone an emergency power is not needed.  So why is Malacanang asking for it?  The group can only think of the following scenarios:

    §  Under the ILP enrollment is voluntary but enrollees will be compensated to incentivize their             participation
    §  But because there is no system currently in place to exactly determine the price  of compensation,             imposing a universal levy – an x amount per kWh to be charged to consumers take-or-pay  – is             the most likely scheme.
    §  Retail electricity suppliers (RES) who already posses contracted capacities under the open access             (but which they cannot supply to their contestable market because most of them are also ILP             players) will also be compensated.
     
     These, in effect, will result to rate increases.   But Fortaleza insists that a take-or-pay levy cannot be charged to consumers under ILP since embedded generation sets were designed or were practically built by industry players to address expected and non-expected outages.

“So why do we have to pay them for that temporary sacrifice?  And why will Henry Sy, John Gokongwei and Jaime Ayala charge an x amount per kWh from everyone, including non-mall users?”


The group argued further that the only valid excuse for utilizing emergency powers is when the government  goes back to generation, stop industry fraud, and makes a decisive shift to renewable energy and energy democracy.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Labor group calls for release of detained Cebu union leader

Press Release
November 25, 2014

The militant Partido Manggagawa (PM) today called for the release of the detained union president of Copper Corp. in Toledo City, Cebu as his petition for bail is heard today. Tony Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PAMCC-AGLO), is currently detained at the Toledo city jail after he was arrested last October 25 in Cavite on the strength of warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. He has filed an urgent motion for bail that is being heard today in Toledo.

Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, appealed for the release of Cuizon, a PM national council member, on humanitarian grounds as he is sickly and advanced of age. “A politician gets the privilege of hospital arrest and a US soldiers gets special treatment but a worker, even if ill and elderly, has to endure the bad conditions of a city jail for more than a month now,” he added.

Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson, stated that on Cuizon’s first day at the Toledo jail, the latter had a high blood attack and was only brought to a clinic. “Cuizon is a senior citizen who suffers from severe hypertension, diabetes and arthritis, arguably work-related illnesses borne out of decades working in the copper mines of Toledo,” he explained.

Magtubo argued that the arrest warrants, criminal cases and police raids were in violation of existing guidelines in the conduct of police during labor disputes. PM insists that the warrants were flawed since they were the product of illegal raids conducted in March 2013 on the PAMCC office, and the houses of Cuizon and the union treasurer. The union avers that the firearms and a grenade allegedly found in the raid at the PAMCC office were planted by the police.

“Once again the Philippines rivals Colombia as the most dangerous place for unionists with numerous cases of labor leaders killed, injured or harassed. Cuizon’s arrest and incarceration illustrates the double standard of justice in our country,” Magtubo stated.

Derige averred that “The arrest of Ka Tony is part of Carmen Copper management’s continuing effort to bust the genuine union at the mine and leave the workers defenseless in the face of attempts to downgrade wages and benefits, and impose contractualization among mine workers. The police and the courts are being used as instruments of capitalists.”

Derige explained that Cuizon’s arrest followed on the heels of the decertification of PAMCC as the sole and exclusive bargaining union at the mine, and the formation of a management-backed yellow union.


Carmen Copper has recently been hit by spate of labor disputes as mine workers resist corporate attacks on working conditions. Last February, PAMCC filed a notice of strike for management’s unfair labor practices and violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Also this year, workers contracted to haul and dispose of Carmen Copper’s mine wastes were derailed in forming a union because of the intervention of the huge manpower contractor Asiapro but the case remains pending at the Labor Department. Unions have condemned Asiapro as an illegal labor-only contractor.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

No ultimate Yolanda recovery without stable employment - labor group


PRESS RELEASE
08 November 2014

The government in many aspects of the Yolanda relief and rehabilitation is a miserable failure.  A major element of the rehabilitation program where it failed the most is job creation, the local group of Partido Manggagawa (PM) in Tacloban said in a statement.

“No ultimate recovery will take place in Yolanda avenue without jobs and livelihood opportunities for its people,” asserted Judy Torres the party’s spokesman in the region.

The group had been calling for the government to make employment a priority in the Yolanda rehabilitation program.   Torres drives and operates a tricycle in Tacloban prior to Yolanda. He heads the city’s federation of tricycle drivers and operators.

According to Torres, PM and other labor groups in the region under Tingog have submitted petitions and participated in several dialogues with concerned government agencies.  “But concrete response come too slow and in trickles,” said Torres.

The labor group said the people of Leyte and Samar were manifestly strong and resilient to survive the 365 punishing days after Yolanda, “but were too tired to countenance another year without jobs or regular sources of income.”

Torres said that most of the region’s working people, particularly those who lost their formal jobs and those who lost their means of livelihood in the informal economy, survive on temporary employment provided by the government, the private sector and NGO-sponsored programs. 

“But these jobs are by nature temporary, 15 days at most under a government program, thus neither these provide a feeling of security nor lift the spirits and dignity of the hapless victims of Yolanda.  And the sad part of it is realizing that at the end of these programs, a jobless reality takes over,” lamented Torres.

Employment figures in Leyte is invisible since it was excluded in the Labor Force Survey (LFS) since April 2014.   The 2013 LFS prior to Yolanda put the unemployment rate in Eastern Visayas at 5.4% and 25.2% underemployment. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that some 19,000 workers lost their jobs to Yolanda in November last year.

The group said the government could have transformed the crisis into an employment opportunity in the areas of agriculture, mass housing, healthcare, reconstruction and infrastructure, power and transportation, green jobs, and the expansion of public service industry.  Had it been done this way, the government would have had a clear framework that centers on employment. 

In addition, the government could have demanded more money or reparation from industrial nations who are responsible for climate crisis, to ensure the country’s fast and sustainable recovery.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Arrest of Cebu labor leader denounced

Press Release
October 31, 2014

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today condemned the arrest of the union leader at the Carmen Copper Corp. in Toledo City, Cebu, one of the biggest mines in Asia. Tony Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PAMCC-AGLO), was arrested last October 25, 2014 in Cavite on the strength of warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, called for the release of Cuizon, a PM national council member, as the arrest warrants, criminal cases and police raids were in violation of existing guidelines in the conduct of police during labor disputes.

“Once again the Philippines rivals Colombia as the most dangerous place for unionists with numerous cases of labor leaders killed, injured or harassed. Cuizon’s arrest and incarceration illustrates the double standard of justice in our country. A politician gets the privilege of hospital arrest and a US soldier gets special treatment but a worker, even if ill and elderly, has to endure the bad conditions of a city jail,” Magtubo added.

Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson, stated that on Cuizon’s first day at the Toledo jail, the latter had a high blood attack and was only brought to a clinic. “Cuizon is a senior citizen who suffers from severe hypertension, diabetes and arthritis, arguably work-related illnesses borne out of decades working in the copper mines of Toledo,” he insisted.

Derige averred that “The arrest of Ka Tony is part of Carmen Copper management’s continuing effort to bust the genuine union at the mine and leave the workers defenseless in the face of attempts to downgrade wages and benefits, and impose contractualization among mine workers. The police and the courts are being used as instruments of capitalists.”

PM insists that the warrants were flawed since they were the product of illegal raids conducted in March 2013 on the PAMCC office, and the houses of Cuizon and the union treasurer. The union avers that the firearms and a grenade allegedly found in the raid at the PAMCC office were planted by the police.


Derige explained that Cuizon’s arrest followed on the heels of the decertification of PAMCC as the sole and exclusive bargaining union at the mine, and the formation of a management-backed yellow union.

Carmen Copper has recently been hit by spate of labor disputes as mine workers resist corporate attacks on working conditions. Last February, PAMCC filed a notice of strike for management’s unfair labor practices and violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Also this year, workers contracted to haul and dispose of Carmen Copper’s mine wastes were derailed in forming a union because of the intervention of the huge manpower contractor Asiapro but the case remains pending at the Labor Department. Unions have condemned Asiapro as an illegal labor-only contractor. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Labor party demands turnover of US Marine suspect in transgender killing

Press Release
14 October 2014

Partido Manggagawa (PM) condemns the killing of transgender woman, Jeffrey Serdoncillo Laude a.k.a. Jennifer Laude, allegedly by a US Marine participating in the Balikatan exercise in Olongapo City 11p.m. of October 11.

PM expressed its readiness to mobilize its women and LGBT members and coordinate with other groups in a fight to seek justice for Laude. The group had also been active in the Nicole Subic rape case campaign.

According to reports, the US embassy had issued a statement assuring its full cooperation with Philippine law enforcement authorities.  The same commitment was expressed by the US government during the hearing of “Nicole” in the Subic rape case, but in the end convicted rapist Daniel Smith was allowed to escape by Philippine authorities in collusion with the US embassy.

“It has been almost three days yet both suspect and probable witnesses remain in the custody of American authorities in Philippines soil,” declared PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda. She added that “Similar to our demand during the trial of the Subic rape case, custody of suspect should in the hands of Philippine authorities.”

The group insists that nothing justifies Laude’s killing. “Being gay, hiding the fact that he is gay or being a prostitute does not make Laude’s killing right,” Miranda ended.

PM once more called for the repeal of the Visiting Forces Agreement under whose provisions the Balikatan exercises are conducted. “This recent incident again exposes that the VFA does not provide protection for Filipinos whose civil and social rights may be violated by US soldiers and moreover ties the Philippines to the imperialist agenda of the American government,” Miranda explained.


She furthered that ”We have nothing to gain and more to lose from allowing US soldiers, ships and planes to base in Philippine territory. An independent foreign policy is our best defense against external threats even against China’s claims on disputed islands.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

War vs. "King of labor-only contracting" in today's World Day of Decent Work

Press Release
NAGKAISA!
October 07, 2014
 
AROUND 200 members of labor coalition Nagkaisa picketed the Asiapro main office in Barangay Kapitolyo in Pasig City this morning to condemn the pseudo-manning agency for its gross violations of workers’ rights to mark the World Day of Decent Work observed worldwide today.
 
Below is the Nagkaisa labor coalition statement issued today:
 
“We, the Nagkaisa! (United!), join arms in condemning in highest and strongest terms the illegal practice being perpetrated by the Asiapro Multi-purpose Cooperative against thousands of vulnerable Filipino workers in its employ as we commemorate today the World Day of Decent Work along with other labor unions and progressive labor groups around the world.
 
We are enraged by Asiapro’s unfettered and multiple grave violations of international conventions on decent jobs and serious abuse of Philippine labor statutes that upholds the rights and interests of Filipino workers.
 
Behind its mask and by its pretense as a multi-purpose cooperative, Asiapro is a grand structure of deceit and an organized syndicate with a multi-billion peso profiteering from the blood and sweat of hapless Filipino workers.
 
The people running Asiapro are with pedigree, deeply-experienced and widely networked to camouflage and further entrench their labor-only-contracting fleecing operation. They are not just modern day labor slavery drivers, they are also rapacious and brutal not only for not giving the right wages and benefits for is workers but for skirting the laws and statutes by not paying millions of pesos of taxes that a responsible manning agency does to government.
 
As we join fellow workers in fighting for decent work, the Nagkaisa labor coalition today vows to make life difficult for Asiapro and promises to make its greedy high people running the organization be brought to justice.
 
In observance of the World Day of Decent Work, Nagkaisa today swears to uncover the Asiapro masterminds and make sure they will be made to account including all of the conspirators of the syndicate to pay for their abuse and injustice they have committed against thousands of its workers and their families.”

Monday, October 6, 2014

Advisory: Picket at biggest illegal “labor-only contractor”

Media Advisory
06 October 2014
Contact: Edsil Bacalso
09155386308              

REQUEST FOR COVERAGE



 In observance of “Global Day for Decent Work”
Picket at biggest illegal “labor-only contractor”

Tomorrow, 7 October 2014
10:00 AM

Assembly @ Kapitolyo gate, Pasig City
Then march to nearby Asiapro Building





The Nagkaisa labor coalition will hold a picket at Asiapro to demand a stop to the illegal operations of Asiapro which in the guise of a “workers cooperative” of some 34,000 members is in reality a labor-only contractor. A coordinated picket of Asiapro’s satellite office in downtown Cebu City will also be held tomorrow by Nagkaisa’s member groups. A labor dispute at the giant Carmen Copper mine in Toledo City, Cebu involving Asiapro remains pending to this day. The action tomorrow follows on the heels of an earlier picket that led to Asiapro’s filing of libel and public scandal cases against leaders of Nagkaisa. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Filipino workers rally in support of HK unions and protests

Press Release
October 3, 2014

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) and other groups in the labor unity coalition Nagkaisa! today held a rally at the consular office of China in Makati in response to a call for international solidarity from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). PM declared that “Filipino workers extend our solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the HKCTU, the students and the Hong Kong people in the struggle for democracy and equality.”

With the Hong Kong protests gearing for a possible confrontation with the government, Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair, stated that “We appeal to both the HK and Beijing government to stop the use of violence against its own people.  The people’s democratic government which was proclaimed in October 1, 1949, can only be more and never less democratic.  For this reason, arrest and detention as well as the use of teargas in dispersing a massive but peaceful assembly of mostly young people are patently undemocratic.”

The HKCTU had called last week for strikes by workers to complement the boycott by students and the protests in general. A PM statement asserted that "The Hong Kong working class must now join the democracy protests to break the impasse for the students cannot win the struggle on their own. But the HK workers must put the imprint of their class demands on the movement and march under their own banner of social justice and emancipation."

Rivera explained that “We are inspired seeing people – students, teachers, workers, and elderly in collective action against threats to democracy, as we are likewise indignant that this action is met by state violence.”

He added that “When PALEA launched its struggle against outsourcing and contractualization, workers all over the world, including Hong Kong, extended support. Such solidarity helped us sustain the fight until eventual victory. We shouted then that the struggle of PALEA is the struggle of all workers. Now it is time to say that the struggle of HKCTU is the struggle of all workers.”

Rivera also argued that “We are also aware that aside from the demand of democratic reforms, the people were raising the issue of gaping inequality between the business elite and the working class in Hong Kong.  We acknowledge this as a worldwide phenomenon under this capitalist world thus we easily identify with the justness of bringing this call.


PM also expressed readiness to hold more solidarity actions for HK unions and the democracy protests when needed. Rivera averred that they will continue monitoring the development of the protests in Hong Kong and hope that the people’s demands are eventually met.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Advisory: Filipino workers to rally in support of Hong Kong trade unions and democracy movement

Media Advisory
02 October 2014
Contact: Edsil Bacalso
09155386308    

REQUEST FOR COVERAGE




Filipino workers rally behind Hong Kong
trade unions and democracy movement

03 October 2014
10:00 AM

Chinese Consular Office
The World Center, 330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City


§       Condemn crackdown on peoples’ protest!
§       Respect Democracy in Hong Kong!
§       Protect and Respect Human Rights!
§       Release all detained protesters!
§       Respect the right to peaceful assembly!
§       Stop police brutality!



Members of Nagkaisa labor coalition will lead this protest action tomorrow in solidarity with the Hong Kong peoples’ struggle for democracy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

In solidarity with HKCTU and the Hong Kong People

(Reuters photo)
We, in the Partido Manggagawa (Labor Party Philippines) extend our solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), the students and the Hong Kong people in the struggle for democracy and greater equality. 
The world is witnessing yet another “occupy” and “spring” phenomenon, this time right here in   neighboring Hong Kong.  Yet while we are inspired seeing people – students, teachers, workers, and elderly in collective action against threats to democracy, we are likewise indignant that this action is met by official violence perpetrated by the State.
We condemn the use of violence against legitimate protests.  Democracy, we assert, is an indivisible body of rights that must be enjoyed by the sovereign people.  The right to chose and to freely express ourselves are but a few of the basic principles of democracy.  And even if these rights cannot be proclaimed as absolute vis-a-vis the need for certain degree of state regulation, suppressing these rights more often than not creates an absolutely dangerous predicate to destroying the very fundamental of democracy which is people’s sovereignty.  Repression must therefore be stopped at this very first level.
Hence, we appeal to both the HK and Beijing government to stop the use of violence against its own people.  The people’s democratic government which was proclaimed in October 1, 1949, can only be more and never less democratic.  For this reason, arrest and detention as well as the use of teargas in dispersing a massive but peaceful assembly of mostly young people is patently undemocratic.

We call on the Hong Kong working class to join the democracy protests to break the impasse for the students cannot win the struggle on their own. But the Hong Kong workers must put the imprint of their class demands on the movement and march under their own banner of social justice and emancipation

We are also made aware that aside from the demand of ensuring promised democracy, the people were raising the issue of gaping inequality between the business elite and the working class in Hong Kong.  We acknowledge this as a worldwide phenomenon under this capitalist world thus we easily identify with the justness of bringing this call.
Furthermore, Hong Kong is also host to tens of thousands of Filipinos and other Asian workers.  Thus it is safe to assume that for many years they already have shared the values of the Hong Kong people in upholding democracy.  We likewise appeal to the Chinese government to treat migrant fairly in the face of this political uncertainty.
In solidarity,
The Executive Committee
Partido Manggagawa – Labor Party Philippines
30 September 2014