Pagpabor sa Quo Warranto: Higanteng Hakbang tungo sa Diktadura

Nagdesisyon ang Korte Suprema sa inihaing quo warranto case laban kay Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno na ipawalang-bisa ang pagkakatalaga kay Sereno bilang pinakamataas na hukom sa pamahalaan. Kami, ang Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa, isang koalisyon ng mga kilusang manggagawa, magsasaka, kababaihan, maralitang lungsod, kabataan-estudyante, maka-kalikasang aktibista, ay masidhing kinukundena ang pagpabor ng mayorya sa Korte Suprema sa Quo Warranto na kontra sa prinsipiyo ng demokrasya. Walang gagawin ang desisyong ito kundi bigyan ng higit pang kapangyarihan si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, at higit pang supilin ang mga demokratikong karapatan ng mga mamamayan.

Naniniwala ang KALIPUNAN na nakasandig ang anumang demokrasya sa prinsipyo ng pagkakapantay-pantay ng mga sangay ng Pamahalaan—ang Ehekutibo, Lehislatura at Hudikatura. Sa bisa ng quo warranto laban kay Sereno, ipagkait nito ang kapangyarihan ng Kongreso na idaan sa tamang proseso ng impeachment ang mga katulad na kaso ng sa Chief Justice. Bunsod nito, maaari nang gamitin ang quo warranto ni Pangulong Duterte bilang kanyang sandata upang pagbantaan at alisin ang iba pang impeachable officers, katulad ng Pangalawang Pangulo, at mga pinuno ng Commission on Human Rights, COMELEC, at Office of the Ombudsman.

Salungat sa demokrasya at interes ng mga batayang sektor ang nangyaring panggigipit kay CJ Sereno. Bahagi ito ng serye ng atake ni Pangulong Duterte sa mga kababaihang pinuno na kritikal sa mapanupil niyang pamamalakad. Sa halip na bigyang-tugon ang mga isyu ng mga maralitang mamamayan tulad ng kontraktwalisasyon, disenteng pabahay, reporma sa lupa, pagpigil sa pagsira sa kalikasan, karahasan sa kababaihan at kagalingan ng kabataan, paghigpit at pagpapalawak ng kapangyarihan ang inaatupag ni Pangulong Duterte.

Tanging ang Korte Suprema ang huling inaasahang sangay ng pamahalaang magtatanggol sa mga naipanalong karapatan ng mga mamamayan, lalo na ng mga mahihirap, na nakapaloob sa Saligang Batas. Ang pagtanggal kay CJ Sereno sa pamamagitan ng quo warranto ay tahasang pagwasak sa kapangyarihan ng Korte Supremang manatiling malaya sa impluwensiya ng Ehekutibo at Kongreso. Malinaw na ang pagtanggal kay CJ Sereno sa pamamagitan ng quo warranto ay ang pagsulong ng mas malaking proyektong supilin ang demokrasya at mga karapatan ng mga mamamayan, sa pangunguna ni Pangulong Duterte.

Sa madaling salita, isang higanteng hakbang tungo sa diktadura.

Sa gayon, nakikiisa ang Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa sa lahat ng mga demokratikong pwersa sa pakikibaka laban sa pagsulong ng diktadura sa ilalim ng Administrasyong Duterte.

Adyenda ng Masa: Hindi Diktadura!

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Kilos Maralita (KM)
Pakisama (Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka)
Partido Manggagawa (PM)
Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD Ateneo de Manila)
Urban Poor Alliance (UP-All)
World March of Women – Pilipinas

Labor group cautions gov’t about plans of hiring foreign workers for infra program, demands transparency on all the loans to be incurred

Photo by: Google

The government should first ensure that the foreign workers it is planning to hire en masse for its ambitious infrastructure program would enjoy the same rights and welfare as any local worker.

“Mr. Duterte can’t even improve the rights of local workers by living up to his promise to end contractualization, now he wants to add more workers from abroad to be exploited by his friends among the oligarchs,” said Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO).

The Philippine Labor Code does not allow migrant workers employed in the country to join and form unions unless the same rights are given to Filipino migrant workers in their respective countries.

“Unless migrant workers are allowed to join or form unions in the destination country, labor standards in their line of work would most likely deteriorate,” Mata said.

Last week, Legaspi Representative Joey Salceda said that the Philippines is considering importing skilled construction workers from Burma and China once the so-called “golden age of infrastructure program” of the Duterte administration or Build Build Build gets into in full swing.

“It is also grossly insensitive of this government to even think of getting foreign workers to build the country’s planned infrastructure projects when we have not even addressed our own growing unemployment problem,” Mata said.

According to Salceda, the government would need 3.9 skilled labor force which the country cannot supply and is facing labor constraints as the growing demand for laborers like welders, carpentry, masonry and related skilled work construction could not be provided due to lack of training, adding that the construction industry needs more workers for the government’s infrastructure program and the demand could not be addressed by the K to 12 graduates unless they undergo Tesda training.

“Just like what Salceda himself said, K to 12 graduates can be trained by TESDA so why not concentrate on this training in the TESDA centers across the country?” added Mata.

“At the same time, government should make the wages for skilled Filipinos more competitive so that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait and other parts of the globe who are skilled enough could have the option of coming home and take the challenge for themselves in the rebuilding and modernizing their own country,” Mata said.

According to Mata, to finance its [government] infrastructure program, “it would be spending huge amount of money squeezed from the taxes from millions of Filipinos augmented with foreign loans which in the end will be paid for again by Filipinos long after Mr. Duterte was out of office,” Mata said. “Hence the program should maximize utilizing local inputs including labor,” Mata added.

SENTRO warns government not to follow the footsteps of other countries who are now saddled with onerous loans from China, which as a condition, utilizes Chinese raw materials and labor.

“We urge Mr. Duterte and his economic managers and planners to disclose all conditionalities for loans to be used in this project and hold public consultations about plans on how to maximize these projects,” Mata said.

“Our country’s development is much too important for all of us to leave it in the hands of a few economic technocrats,” Mata concluded.

SENTRO Statement for International Labor Day 2018

“Panahon na ng paniningil.”

Two years after his election, Rodrigo Duterte continues to demonstrate his inability to deliver the promises of change and progress he sold to the Filipino people. The list of his transgressions against the working class is growing: failure to end contractualization, wanton loss of lives thru the war on drugs, more tax burdens via to TRAIN, high prices as inflation rise to new heights, low wages and wholesale destruction of jobs from PUJ phase out, the closure of Boracay and now the possible forced repatriation of 260,000 migrant Filipino workers from Kuwait.

It is time to hold Mr. Duterte to account! It is time to express our indignation and reiterate our demands!

Today, workers under the banner of SENTRO will pour out into the streets of Manila, Cebu, Davao and General Santos to join the nationwide indignation rallies led by NAGKAISA and KMU.

It would be a remiss not to highlight that organized labor’s attempts at public and constructive engagement with the Duterte regime was met with disappointment at nearly every step of the way. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already disillusioned us when Labor Secretary Bello issued Department Order No. 174 which legitimized labor contracting even more. Since then, SENTRO, together with NAGKAISA and KMU have been negotiating the issuance of an executive order (E.O.) that would correct DO 174 and realign DOLE policies as well as ‘guide’ the Legislative Branch towards amending the Labor Code to make direct hiring as the norm.

Acknowledging the need for reciprocity, the workers’ draft E.O. has moved “from total prohibition of contractualization to a framework of prohibition of contractualization that would allow certain exemptions for contracting out of work, but subject to the decision of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council”. And yet, despite promises to review the draft since February 2018, nothing has been settled to this very day—while Secretary Bello, President Duterte himself and their mouthpieces continue to paint the working peoples’ organizations as “selfish hardliners.” Clearly, the Duterte regime is negotiating with organized labor in bad faith.

SENTRO, together with the whole of NAGKAISA, is unequivocal in this: never in the history of employment relationship in the country has workers enjoying regular employment and implementation of strict rules in labor contracting been detrimental to the economy and job generation.

The only consolation we have, right now, is that House Bill No. 6908, the Security of Tenure Bill, was finally passed at the House of Representatives — the farthest it has reached since the post-EDSA period.

And yet, Filipino society still have very little to take comfort with. The past year has been a continuous string of disappointments and embarrassments not even the worst of our previous presidents will be caught doing red-handed. This has not only compromised the standing of the Philippine government as an institution, it is also starting to diminish the country’s standing as a member of the international community.

SENTRO is gravely concerned over the continuous creeping of authoritarianism in nearly all aspects of our country’s political life. Any semblance of “separation and balance of powers” as designed by the 1987 Constitution has been steadily eroded—with the persistence of a “rubber-stamp” Congress under the leadership of Pantaleon Alvarez and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. The unconstitutional ouster attempt against Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is clearly aided and abetted by her own fellow Associate Justices—not out of visible judicial independence, but clear marching orders from Malacañang. This is once again eroding the credibility of the highest court in the land, something that it has already tried to claw out of the past five years.

Our basic constitutional rights to freedom of organization, freedom of expression and freedom of information are also denied and quashed without a second thought. The harassment of long-standing mass media institutions such as ABS-CBN, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and even independent journalist outfits like Rappler continue unabated and unquestioned. Not only is the Duterte regime not willing to respect the social mandate of the Fourth Estate—it even dares to fabricate its own subservient propaganda machine to an extent not even dreamt of during the Marcos years.

No civil society organization, independent government body or religious organization, as long as they dare to oppose the Duterte regime, is safe. The continued harassment and killing of labor sector, agrarian reform and indigenous tribal leaders, the indignities pilloried against the Commission on Human Rights and the investigations of the International Criminal Court, the deportation of Sister Patricia Fox, and the assassination of Fr. Mark Ventura of Cagayan are likely only to be the first of many more crimes against the people that the Duterte regime will visit upon us.

And yet, even these pale in comparison with the high cost of human life the carelessness of the Duterte administration has wrought over the past two years. The human casualty of his bogus War on Drugs continues to balloon to the twenty thousands. It remains a bona-fide war on the poor, the helpless and those denied due process. The ruins and bakwits of Marawi continue as a mute-yet-loud testament to the failure not only of the leadership of our armed forces to resolve the threat of terrorism and extremism efficiently, but also the dismantling and disillusion of hope for recapturing peace in Mindanao. All of this, under the first Mindanaoan president.

All of our problems have only grown, with their toll becoming only more real and inhuman by the day. It would require not only the efficiency and empathy of our own government, but also the help and good-will of our international neighbors and trade partners. Yet under Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine state has only built walls, killed without second thought, and destroyed the lives of our countrymen. It embraced not the international community of solidarity, dignity, and freedom, but the Axis of conquest, dominion, authoritarianism and lies, emblematized by imperialist China, the United States, North Korea and Russia.

SENTRO, together with other organizations of the working peoples all over the country, as well as the rest of our country men tired with the bogus and failed promises of a small-town bully, reiterate what we said last year. Workers’ and trade union rights cannot genuinely exist if human and democratic rights are compromised and thrown to the gutter.

As such, SENTRO will march today to demand that Mr. Duterte live up to his promise to end contractualization by issuing labor’s version of the E.O. and certify as urgent a security of tenure bill that would make direct hiring as the norm.

Today we march for human rights – political, economic and socio-cultural! We demand an end to extra judicial killings; a just transition program for all those affected by the phase out of PUJs and the closure of Boracay Island; and, a comprehensive reintegration program for all migrant workers. We demand the strict implementation of “no relocation, no demolition” policy and the prioritization of People’s Plans to resolve the housing crisis. We demand an end to misogyny and the advancement of the protection of women’s rights and welfare, including the passage of the Extended Maternity Leave.

Today, we march as one – a unified labor movement!

Labor group hits closure of Boracay without clear compensation for the workers

Photo by: orlyn anthony gerano

After recently abandoning his promise to end the practice of labor contractualization, the President ordered the closure of Boracay without first ensuring the livelihood of the workers and their families who will suffer the most, Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Progresibong Manggawa (SENTRO) stated.

“At last, the President is finally showing his true color, no different from his predecessors, with regards to the poor, particularly the workers: always at the tail end of government’s priorities,” said Josua Mata, SENTRO Secretary General.

The drastic manner of the closure of Boracay island resort are not only affecting the livelihood of  the 36,000 workers directly hit, but other workers who are providing ancillary services, such as travel agents and their families, Mata said.

“While we support the need to clean up and rehabilitate Boracay, and other tourist destination areas, we believe it should be done in a planned way, not through draconian measures that leave workers and their families in limbo. Why make workers and their families suffer, when it was the hotel and resort owners and the local government officials who were responsible for the island’s problems in the first place?” Daniel L. Edralin, 1st Vice Chairperson of  SENTRO, and Secretary General of the hotel workers’ union, NUWHRAIN.

“The national government should have sat down with the local development council to craft such rehabilitation plan, ensuring that alternatives had been duly explored. Such plan could also have been done in phases. And if wholesale closure is deemed really appropriate, the  36K workers, or more, and their families should have guaranteed jobs or compensation for the whole duration.”

SENTRO was particularly aghast at the pronouncement early this month of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), that the cost of temporarily shutting down Boracay to make way for its rehabilitation will have a “very insignificant effect” on the entire economy.

To recall, NEDA Director for National Policy and Planning Reynaldo R. Cancio said in a press briefing, that “even if the ban extends up to six months… at the macro level, it has a very insignificant effect. We see something like 0.1% of GDP.”

“This really shows that the workers are not even in the periphery of the sights of the President and his economic managers,“ Mata said, adding “what a way to treat the backbone which runs the economic wheel, referring to the workers”.

A total of P2 billion worth of calamity funds will be allotted to the displaced workers of legitimate businesses in the island, Malacanang announced early this month.

However, profiling of those affected residents is incomplete, no clear plan on how to distribute such funds to workers and their families has been revealed, and no proof given still that such funds are actually available for distribution.

The National Union of Workers and Hotels and Restaurants (NUWHRAIN) is an affiliate of SENTRO and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF). (END)


Labor group challenges ECOP and DTI officials to live on P512.00 a day as contractual worker

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisang at Progresibong Manggagawa is challenging the employers and officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to try for five months, to live with the National Capital Region’s minimum rate of P512.00 a day, to know how it feels to live on a very limited wage daily and without assurance if they still have jobs after five months.

“I think this is going to be the most effective way for them to learn a thing or two about poverty, a word which they understand only in theory,” said Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro, reacting to the statements issued by the DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez saying that direct hiring cannot be forced upon employers.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines said that the Executive Order against contractualization will destabilize the economy.

According to Mata, the unrestrained contractualization if allowed to continue will destabilize not only the economy, but every fabric of the Philippine society.

“Lopez’s explanation that the worse thing about being exploited is NOT to be exploited is another way of saying that workers are better off consigned to a life of poverty surviving through a series of disposable jobs compared with being unemployed, is so insensitive and inhumane that warrants his resignation immediately,” Mata said.

On Ecop’s claim that regularization will destabilize the economy, Mata countered that if the unhindered contractualization is allowed to continue, it will not only destabilize the economy but also the social fabric of the country.

Mata explained that the overwhelmingly poor who fell victims to the government’s war on drugs is testament of how poverty can deaden one’s judgement on what is wrong and what is right. Poor and without enough power, these victims did not have any shield against syndicates.

“The president should fulfill his campaign promises to end contractualization. It is the only salvage for working people to be away from poverty and allow them to share in building the nation. The capitalists cannot do that because aside from being limited in number, their instincts naturally bring them to bitterly compete with their kind in securing more profits. Yes, in the process they create wealth, the question is, does the society as a whole and workers in particular benefit from these wealth creation, no, it’s the other way around, the capitalist benefit more from the workers supported by government controlled by capitalists,” Mata said adding that as proof, ultra-rich Filipinos are becoming richer every year while poor Filipinos are becoming poorer every day.

Sentro is a member of NAGKAISA labor coalition.