Alisin ang lambong ng terorismo. Mamamayan, itulak ang kilusan para sa tunay na kapayapaan.

Takot ang pangunahing nililikha ng terorismo, ng gyera. Kapag takot ang nangibabaw, nakagawiang gustong kapitan ay iyong dagling makakatanggal ng takot. Lakas laban sa lakas. Pwersa laban sa pwersa. Karahasan pantapat sa karahasan ng terorismo. Kung ano ang mas mabilis na makapupuksa ng pinanggagalingan ng takot at kaguluhan, yun ang nakikitang tanging opsyon, tulad ng militarisasyon. Tulad ng pagpataw ng Batas Militar sa Mindanao dahil sa labanan sa pagitan ng pamahalaan ng Pilipinas at grupo ng Maute, itinuturing na Islamic extremists, sa Marawi.

Subali’t kailangang tumingin tayo lagpas sa Batas Militar. Ano pa ang maaaring gawin? Isang mahalagang hakbang ang pag-intindi sa nagaganap sa Marawi; sa pagtuklas ng ugat ng mga kaganapan hindi lang sa Marawi kundi sa likod ng pagkakaroon ng mga grupong tulad ng Maute. Totoong dapat labanan ang terorismo. Subali’t kahit mabuwal ang libong itinuturing na terorista, may iba pang susulpot or marerekrut kapalit nila kung hindi ang ugat ng terorismo ang mapupuksa. Para sa pamahalaan, ang tanging solusyon ay militarisasyon, gyera, batas militar.

Bakit? Dahil mas mahirap para sa pamahalaan na ayusin ang problema ng kahirapan; ang harapin ang kawalan ng trabaho at katiyakan nito, ang makatarungan at mabilis na pamamahagi ng lupa at suportang serbisyo, ang pagsasauli ng coco levy at paggamit nito para sa kapakinabangan ng maliliit na magniniyog, ang moratoryum sa land use conversion, ang sertipikasyon ng Alternative Minerals Management Bill, moratorium sa mga bagong aplikasyon sa pagmimina, pag-aalis ng interes sa mga resettlement ng mga maralita at pagsasaayos ng sistema ng pabahay.

Hindi lamang ang pamahalaan ang may tangan ng opsyon. Tayong mga mamamayan ay may obligasyon sa pagkakaroon ng kapayapaan; may responsibilidad sa kapwa natin Pilipino na dumaranas ng hirap dahil sa kaguluhan sa Marawi, dahil sa mas matinding militarisasyon o abuso sa ilalim ng Batas Militar sa Mindanao. Ang unang pinakamahalagang hakbang ay alamin, unawain, suriin ang mga pwersa at mga kadahilanan sa likod ng matagal nang sigwa sa Mindanao; itulak ang pamahalaan na hindi batas militar ang sagot. Di sagot ang machismo o pagtutulak sa panggagahasa at lahat ng porma ng abuso, sa ngalan ng gyera o pagpatay.

Ang aming sama-samang panawagan:
1. Ihinto ang Batas Militar, huwag pahabain, huwag palawigin.
2. Ihinto ang pambobomba at pagsira sa Marawi at mga karatig-bayan.
3. Isama ang mga lokal na pinuno, pati kababaihan, sa lahat ng usapang pang-kapayapaan.
4. Panagutin ang mga responsable sa paglabag sa karapatang pantao.
5. Tugunan ang mga batayang panawagan sa tiyak na trabaho, makatarungan at mabilis na pamamahagi ng lupa at suportang serbisyo, edukasyon at serbisyong pangkalusugan para sa lahat, kasama ang kalusugang pang-reproduktibo, makatarungang sistemang pabahay, at pagtitiyak ng katuparan ng mga batas para sa karapatan ng kababaihan.

KALIPUNAN NG MGA KILUSANG MASA
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Kilos Maralita (KM)
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
Partido Manggagawa (PM)
Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy – Ateneo de Manila
World March of Women (WMW)

Martial law extension or expansion will be a very expensive, unproductive experiment

Nagkaisa Labor Coaliton

19 July 2017

 The battle of Marawi has already entered its 9th week.  And it won’t be over until everything gets back to normal.  In fact, it is the normalization and rehabilitation part of this conflict which is a bigger war to win since failure in this aspect, we believe, will only create more conflict in this highly stratified region of the country.

 We anticipate, though, that Marawi will ultimately fall back into the hands of our government forces.  War ultimately ends even without a victor. What it leaves, definitely, are the enormous humanitarian costs that will be very difficult to measure.  The Marawi war has already claimed at least 500 lives and created more than 200,000 bakwits.  Thousands of livelihoods were also lost as the city was razed into the ground by aerial bombings and fierce ground battles. Furthermore, the declaration of martial law has endangered civilians’ free exercise of human rights in the entire island of Mindanao.

 The Supreme Court has already ruled on the legality of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao but the 60-day duration of Proclamation 216 is set to expire on July 22, 2017.  Hence, the President, Congress and the entire nation now face a bothering question on whether the Martial Law in Mindanao should be extended or be expanded to cover the entire Philippines.  The House leadership, when asked, is even willing to extend and expand Martial Law for the entire term of the President or until 2022.

NAGKAISA labor coalition declares its opposition to the extension or expansion of Martial Law based on the following grounds: 

 1.     It is not necessary;

2.     It will be very expensive;  

3.     It is unproductive and is a disincentive to economic progress;

4.     It weakens our democratic institutions; and

5.     It strengthens the hands of the totalitarians.

 We find no compelling reason to warrant its extension or expansion at this point in time.  We believe that lawlessness in many forms can be addressed by a highly professional and effective military/police leadership. Ensuring professionalism and quality armed services is where Presidential powers are best exercised.  

 Furthermore, extending this kind of war for a much longer time and carried out on a nationwide scale will become a very expensive experiment for a country whose development is highly dependent on loans and regressive taxes. It is therefore unacceptable to see the proposed expansion of VAT and imposition of excise taxes on oil, automobiles and sugar drinks funding not a social program but infrastructure for war. 

 Lastly, it will be very unproductive for the President to spend his remaining years in office for this costly war.  War is both destruction and political distraction.  It neither creates nor equally redistributes social wealth that is now concentrated in the hands of oligarchs.

 The President, in other words, has a better war to wage and win against contractualization, low wages, and high prices of basic goods and services.  If you want peace, Mr. President, build social justice and economic inclusion first. 

Dito ka namin gustong maramdaman.

Left with a Lone Dissenter, the SC reminds The Filipino People of Marcosian Court

Statement of Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa

The decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, as government response to armed conflict that escalated in the city of Marawi, is not the triumph of law, but of authoritarian rule. We are outraged by the Supreme Court’s decision, which could now pave the way for the setting up of authoritarian rule in the whole country.

Worse than the SC division of votes on the critical issue of the dictator’s burial at the Cemetery for Heroes, the SC ruling shows that the third branch of government has become a political pawn. This is not without precedent, as the politicization of what should be independent branches, including the legislature, and institutions, such as the military and police force, was precisely one of the legacies of the 20-year authoritarian Marcos regime.

Before the SC’s decision, we have already witnessed how Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, has disregarded its constitutional duty to call for a session and discuss the legality of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. Owing merely to political loyalties, its members led by the Davao Congressman, Pantaleon Alvarez, sidetracked other legislators’ views by not calling for a session. In his trademark style as bully, Pantaleon even threatened to impeach or ignore the justices if the latter dissented from Congress.  

Martial Law in Mindanao is now on its sixth week since the fateful day of Tuesday, May 23, 2017, which would now belong to the darkest days in the history of Mindanao similar to what happened in the time of Marcos. Marawi City, the capital of the province of Lanao del Sur, has been ravaged badly. Moro sisters and brothers tell us that they are reminded of the burning of Jolo in 1974.

As of June 21, at least 230,000 have fled Marawi and 40,000 crowd and make-do evacuation centers, where at least 59 have died of dehydration and diseases. The death toll in the month-long clashes between government forces and the Maute Group has risen to 422, at least 50 of them civilians (according to MindaNews). This would be higher given eyewitnesses’ accounts. 

Aerial bombings continue, which claim the lives of more civilians. Local leaders have been calling for the President to dialogue with Meranao leaders for the latter to help in dealing with the Maute Group but without success, as he would rather have war and allow people to suffer He has even blamed the Meranaos for what is happening in Marawi. All these amount to yet another big blow to the decades-long attempts to find lasting peace in the war-torn areas of Mindanao.

The votes of the 14 in the SC cause great dismay in the face of evidences presented by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Lanao del Sur of “wanton disregard of sanctity of domicile, the right against deprivation of property without due process of law, the right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures,” especially in Marawi. All of these are in direct violation of the Bill of Rights accorded to all Filipino citizens under Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The persistence of Martial Law in Mindanao is clearly superfluous to military operations and has trampled on civilian liberties and affected the livelihood of the people. 

On its first year, the Duterte regime has already bared its despotic fangs and with this decision of the Supreme Court, the people are being further shoved to the corner without recourse to law, government institutions whose constitutional duty is to protect them, and their duly recognized rights. If this is not authoritarian rule in the making, or plainly authoritarian rule, then clearly we haven’t really learned from our history as a people. We are threatened to having our rights violated, suppressed, and worst, we are threatened to more violence and resulting deaths.

We in Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, a growing assembly of social movements, call on the people to defend our constitutional rights and to fight the impending authoritarian regime under Duterte.  We have members – sisters and brothers – in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao. We cannot allow the continuing loss of life and this government’s choice to resort to violence than to the resolution of the roots of conflict and social problem. As we stand in solidarity and bring continuing support, by material, moral, political means, to our brothers and sisters in Marawi and Mindanao, we stand indignant of the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Martial Law declaration in the island.

 The situation demands of us who are grassroots-based, to educate and push for a counter-narrative to the authoritarian government’s justification of Martial Law and intensification of armed operations in Mindanao and the country at-large.

 Justice, peace and democracy in Mindanao! Stop the Bombings! 

 

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Bagong Kamalayan
Baywatch Foundation
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Kilos Maralita (KM)
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
Partido Manggawa (PM)
Sentro ng Progresibo at Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD) – Ateneo
World March of Women (WMW)
Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)

Isang Bigong Taon: A failed one year for Digong – labor groups

Contractualization did not stop; wages remained low and regionalized; the unemployment and underemployment problems continue to weigh down on a large number of Filipino workers. “In sum, it was “Isang B(D)igong Taon” on the labor front for President Duterte’s first year in office,” stated various labor groups in their one year assessment of the President’s performance.

It can be recalled that the President made a campaign pledge that contractualization will stop the moment he becomes the President. He also vowed to raise wages and abolish the system of provincial rates.

“We tried to rate the President’s performance as objective as we can, but the outcomes for labor over his first 365 days have been generally wanting, have given us false expectations and given us many unfulfilled promises,” said the workers groups in a joint statement distributed to media during a demonstration held at the Boy Scout Circle in Timog Quezon City, Friday.

The mass action was organized by the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), National Federation of Labor Unions (Naflu) and the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea). Members of the World March of Women and Ateneo University’s Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD) also joined the rally.

No end yet to endo

In a meeting on Labor Day, President Duterte asked labor groups to draft an Executive Order that would use prohibition of all forms of contractualization as a framework. This was after the unanimous rejection of labor groups of Department Order 174 issued by Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestre Bello III sometime in March. He also instructed the labor department to resolve with dispatch the years of dispute between PAL and PALEA on the issue of contractualization.

In response the labor groups submitted a unified draft together with the formal labor sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. But almost two months from its submission, the President has done no executive action to address the rampant contractualization.

“We have always advocated for a prohibition of all forms of contractualization and a stop to the abusive operations of manpower agencies and manpower cooperatives. The President himself at his assumption to power and in his first meeting with labor groups early this year openly expressed disgust over these as they ‘abused workers,’ using his words,” said the groups.

According to labor groups, DO 174 continues to permit contractualization and allows manpower agencies and manpower cooperatives to take a cut from workers’ salaries each payday.

There was also no certification issued by the President on pending anti-endo bills filed before the Congress. The PAL-PALEA dispute is not yet resolved.

The only token victory they got on this respect, the groups said, is the planned deputization of trade unionists as labor inspectors, the first batch of which are now undergoing training at the labor department.

Freedom of Association is also one of the areas where the President has a failing mark from the groups as organizing remains extremely difficult particularly in Economic Zones as workers get harassed and get fired for trying to organize unions.

Wages, power, employment, OFW fees, new taxes

With the regional wage setting mechanism still in place, discrimination in terms of wages still persists across the country. The President said he was for a national minimum wage, but such policy pronouncement has not translated even to a working paper from DOLE that they can discuss with workers.

“In the meantime the real value of wages continues to drop, power rates and prices of basic goods and services continue to climb, making it more burdensome for the working class. Meanwhile, the collection of exorbitant placement and other fees for OFW have not been addressed sufficiently if at all,” added the group.

In addition, the planned imposition of excise taxes on oil and the expansion of VAT coverage on goods and services under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), the group feared, will lead to further erosion of workers purchasing power especially those earning the minimum wage and below.

ILO Convention 151 ratification, the saving grace

The President, however, got a passing mark for being the first chief executive to endorse for Senate concurrence International Labor Convention 151 on Labor Relations in the Public Sector. The treaty, once ratified by the Senate, would guarantee the right to organize of public sector workers and allow them to bargain for better working conditions, among others.

Wrong war

Asked why the President failed to satisfy workers’ clamor for change during the last 365 days, the labor groups said, “It is expected when a leader quickly descends into a wrong war that only resulted to thousands of unsolved killings. While surveys have consistently showed that inflation, wages, and employment remain the top concerns of every Filipino.”

On Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Package 1

NTRC graph image

Labor coalition welcomes lower tax on personal income but rejects regressive impact of excise taxes.

Workers have long been demanding for higher tax exemptions, hence, the approval by the House of Representatives of Package 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) is a welcome relief.

Under the TRAIN, income lower than P250,000 per year will be tax free while higher income brackets, except for those who earn more than P5 million, will be charged a lowered tax rate of 25% from the current high of 32%.

This is surely a welcome development. But for the labor coalition Nagkaisa, the workers’ gain in Personal Income Tax (PIT) will be offset in a regressive manner by the imposition of excise taxes on fuel products and the lifting of VAT exemptions in the sale of specific goods and services.

“Everyone knows, not just workers, that it will increase prices of goods and services that would affect mostly the poor and those at the lower income brackets,” said Nagkaisa spokesman Renato Magtubo.

Magtubo said the TRAIN’s objective of shifting the tax burden from the poor to the rich, “Seems to be scheming if not tricky as forgone revenue on the side of the government, which is equivalent to individual savings derived from lower PIT of specific income group, shall be recovered in a universal manner through excise taxes and expanded VAT.”

The group explained further that the tax base can never be expanded through exemptions in PIT and corporate income, making indirect taxation through excise taxes and VAT expansion the main strategy in generating new and more revenue. “Otherwise, nobody is going to pay for the lost revenue,” added Magtubo.

Under TRAIN’s package 1, a P3.00-P6.00 excise taxes will be imposed per liter on fuel and P10 for locally produced sugary products while several VAT-exempt products and services will be lifted, including cooperative income exceeding the P3 million thresholds. Likewise, sale of real estate for socialized housing will now be covered by VAT.

According to the group, even the simulations made by staffs of the finance department showed the inevitable impact of increase in VAT payments by decile group – 43% for the richest 10% and 35% for the bottom 80%. Increase for the second richest 10% is 22%.

“An increase of 43 and 22 per cent respectively may mean nothing for the richest 20% who got significant savings from PIT exemptions. But a 35% increase is surely a burden for the bottom 80% who includes the majority in the formal and informal sector, employed and unemployed, of the working class. In the same manner everyone will be paying for the direct and indirect impact of excise taxes on fuel,” explained Magtubo.

The labor leader added that those living in SPUG areas which rely on diesel as their single source of power will be absorbing a “minimal” impact, according to DOF. But that would mean additional P84 for those who consume 100 kWh per month and P106 for those who consume 300 kWh.

“These are the immediate impact that will hit everyone while the poor wait for the promised transfers contained in the proposed expenditure programs of the government,” said Magtubo.

The group said it will intervene in the continuing deliberation of the tax package in Congress especially on the proposed lowering of income taxes for corporations from 30% to 25%.

“Our main question for this is why a tax rate on corporate income, which is supposed to be a tax on profit, is being lowered down to the same level of personal income which is a tax on labor? A uniform rate on business and personal income can never be considered progressive taxation,” concludes Magtubo.”

PRESS RELEASE
NAGKAISA
13 June 2017