Tag Archives: State of the Nation’s Address (SONA)

Labor group expects “good” SONA

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, the largest coalition of worker’s organization in the country expects a “good” SONA from President Duterte.

“It should be a SONA that would squarely address economic woes and political issues besetting the country today”, said Nagkaisa spokesperson Ka Rene Magtubo.

Nagkaisa expects the President’s SONA should contain the following:

– Addressing the proliferation of illegal and abusive contracting arrangements that DO 174 and EO 51 failed to do, by way of certifying as urgent the Security of Tenure Bill pending in the Senate

– Addressing the “gap” in workers wages and the cost of living brought about by the TRAIN law, rising inflation, peso devaluation, profiteering and the spike in global prices of petroleum products by way of certifying as urgent wage bills pending in the House of Representatives;

– Providing more assistance to women workers by enacting into law the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill pending in the House of Representatives;

– Addressing the prevalence of poverty despite positive economic growth in terms of programs and services that would directly benefit the poor people by way of increasing budget in affordable housing, universal healthcare and pension for the elderly among others;

– Addressing the continuing problem of unemployment and underemployment by way of policies and programs that would provide more local employment opportunities to the labor force by way of a clear industrialization policy, continuing land reform, and development of agriculture; and

– Clear government policy of defending the country’s sovereignty and patrimony on its rightful claims in the West Philippine Sea.

“These are the real issues that matter most to the working people that government should prioritize and not charter change. Absent these issues, the speech will be “business as usual” as in the previous SONAs”, Magtubo added.

Majority of the members of the coalition will be joining the United Peoples’ SONA to voice out workers issues and concerns.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition
Press Release

Charter Change: Changing the rules to allow dictatorship

NO TO CHA-CHA Militants call for a stop to Charter change, which they fear will lead to a “revolutionary government” and dictatorship as they march toward the Edsa People Power Monument. —ALEXIS CORPUZ

Opening the 1987 Constitution to amendments via a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) will only enable the few to forward their own interests, allow the President and other incumbents to stay in power beyond their terms, or establish a transitional or permanent dictator along the way.

On July 9, 2018, a draft federal constitution was submitted by the Consultative Committee to the President. The ConCom’s Bayanihan Federalism draft is in addition to earlier drafts, including that from the PDP-Laban and the congressmen’s own House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 9. All these set the stage for the opening of the 1987 Constitution to amendments – all via a Constituent Assembly as it is the fastest and least costly mode preferred by the President.

These proposals contain transitory provisions that allow the sitting President to exercise dictatorial powers during the transition. We have no doubt the current members of the Lower House who will comprise the absolute majority ConAss will grant the wish of President Duterte as the same agenda also feeds their interest of extending their terms during the transition.

On July 23, 2018, the President will deliver his annual State of the Nation Address to Congress—both the House of Representatives and Senate—where we expect Duterte’s Charter Change and Federalism to take center stage.

We, from the Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa or Kalipunan, a coalition of movements from farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, labor, women, urban poor, environmental activists, youth, and students join the broader movement against dictatorship in the United People’s SONA where ordinary citizens take center stage and speak about issues that Duterte has set aside.

We stand in solidarity with social movements of different leanings, and the religious to condemn Duterte’s Charter Change as a grave danger to democracy and doubt the proposed revisions will actually result to a truly humane and just society. Charter Change will only cement Duterte’s Dictatorship, to the detriment of basic sectors of society.

KALIPUNAN looks no further from Duterte’s failed promises and dismal track record in the past two years for proof:

1. On Contractualization: Despite strong statements that the President will completely end contractualization, this labor practice continues to be the rule rather than the exception in many workplaces.

2. On TRAIN and Inflation: Further aggravated by the effects of TRAIN Law, the inflation rate has ballooned to 5.2% causing prices of basic goods and services to increase. In addition, the effects of the trillion-peso loan from China to our economy have yet to be seen.

3. On the West Philippine Sea: His failure to enforce the Hague ruling has allowed Chinese military bases to be installed in the West Philippine Sea, and for Chinese fishers to trample on the rights of local fishers from Zambales and Pangasinan.

4. On Rural Economies: There continues to be a lack of a National Land Use Policy that enables local government units and private real estate developers to convert prime irrigable and irrigated lands to commercial lands that affect farmers’ livelihoods. The lifting of the Quantitative Restrictions (QR) on rice, and in its place the government’s proposal to fully liberalize the rice industry also threatens food sovereignty and the livelihoods of smallholder rice farmers.

5. On Mining and the Environment: Mining companies continue to operate in protected areas and ancestral lands; coupled with an outdated Philippine Mining Act, most mining operations in the country not only disregard getting the free and prior informed consent of indigenous peoples but also worsen environmental degradation.

6. On the War on Drugs: He has waged a bloody “war on drugs” that has resulted in the proliferation of killings in the country. From July 1, 2016, to June 11, 2018; the police has recorded 4,279 suspects killed in anti-illegal drug operations and 23, 518 homicide cases under investigation.

7. On Violence against Women: Duterte’s misogyny and vilification of women have created a culture that promulgates violence against women.

Clearly, Duterte has failed to deliver on his promises. Will this chacha change the state of things where he failed during the past two years?

These proposals to revise the constitution are not the answers to the people’s concerns. Charter Change will only serve to legitimize the rule of the few and divert the government’s attention from addressing pressing issues basic sectors face.

For this reason, the Kalipunan will join the historic gathering of different groups and organizations on the day of SONA. We call on all to join this historic United People’s SONA to hold our government leaders accountable, especially Duterte, in failing to address the concerns of our people and uphold freedom, social justice, and democracy.

Statement of Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa
14 July 2018

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Kilos Maralita (KM)
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
Partido Manggagawa (PM)
Sentro ng mga 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

End Impunity, Stand Up for Human Rights, Uphold Due Process

laglagbala

SONA STATEMENT of Citizens’ Council for Human Rights

In a little less than a month since his inauguration, President Rodrigo Duterte has delivered on his campaign promise to go after suspected drug pushers and users with little or no regard for human rights and due process. Units of the Philippine National Police, under the command of his close associate General Ronald (“Bato”) de la Rosa, have turned many low-income neighborhoods in the country into free fire zones. The bloody encounters taking place daily have polarized the country between those who support the president’s quick and dirty methods of dealing with drugs and crime and those who regard them as illegal, immoral, and self-defeating.

To date, more than 500 people had been killed in intensified anti-drug operations since the May 9 elections in which Duterte emerged as the victor. The pattern is worrisome: The police announce that drug pushers or users have been killed in an operation. Slain people are shown on television, invariably with firearms near their hands. The now routine police explanation: “The victims resisted arrest and fired on us, so we had to shoot them in self defense.” In some instances, the police story borders on the incredible. In a Pasay City precinct, for instance, two manacled suspects are shown on television being led into jail. Shortly thereafter, a policeman emerges to tell the press the father and son were shot dead inside the jail since they tried to reach for the police’s pistols and had to be killed “in self-defense.”

The suspicious circumstances surrounding incidents like this and many others have convinced many that the killings are rub-outs by the police profiting from the illegal drug trade who are out to eliminate people who can connect them to drugs. Others wonder if this anti-drug push might not be a case of killing the small fry but protecting the big fish since there have hardly been any big-time drug lords apprehended.

Whatever the causes of the wave of extra-judicial killings by police and unidentified people, the president must take responsibility for having encouraged them. Throughout his campaign for the presidency, he claimed that criminals had no rights and that they were better off dead than alive. During his victory speech in Davao on June 6, he asked people to take the law in their own hands and kill drug pushers, offering a higher bounty to people who killed suspected drug dealers than to those who brought them alive to the authorities. He has repeatedly said that rehabilitation does not work and at the solidarity dinner at the Del Pan Sports Complex on the very night of his inauguration, he told people that “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourselves as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” To the police who follow his orders, he has said more than once, “If in the process you kill one thousand persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you.”

Fighting Drugs and Crime the Right Way

Those who uphold human rights and due process have been accused of not sharing the population’s concern with curbing crime. This is a lie.

We do not question the goal of fighting drugs and crime. Indeed, we support it. But it cannot be achieved by trampling on human rights. No one has the right to take life except in the very special circumstance and in a very clear case of self-defense—not a police setup masquerading as “self defense.” Everyone is entitled to the right to life and its protection by the state.

Moreover, denying some classes of people these rights, as Duterte does, puts all of us on the slippery slope that could end up extending this denial to other groups, like one’s political enemies or people that “disrupt” public order, like anti-government demonstrators or people striking for better pay. In this connection, we cannot forget that candidate Duterte threatened to kill workers who stood in the way of his economic development plans and made the blanket judgment that all journalists who had been assassinated were corrupt and deserved to be eliminated. That was no slip of the tongue.

A Dangerous Path

President Duterte’s explicit, indeed boisterous denial of human rights and due process to suspected wrongdoers makes him unique among those who have served as chief executive, most of whom explicitly promised to uphold due process even if some of them deliberately violated it in practice in pursuit of their political enemies. Duterte would not, however, be as confident in his attack on the universality of human rights and the state’s duty to ensure due process to suspects were he not supported in his extreme views by many if not most of those who voted for him. Duterte feels he has a blank cheque to disregard the law, and he is encouraged in this behavior by the rabid support he gets from many supporters who copy his aggressive style in expressing their views in the media.

This dangerous synergy between the Leader and his followers is normalizing the denial and ridiculing of human rights and due process. And this can only lead to the erosion of the foundational belief of the 1987 Constitution: that each citizen of the Republic is endowed with fundamental, political, civil, social, economic, and cultural rights and is entitled to the protection of the law. Further the Constitution’s Bill of Rights states that: “No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.” And that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.”

We demand that President Duterte order a halt to the extra-judicial killings and restore the rule of law and due process. We urge him to desist from inflammatory rhetoric that can only turn this country into one vast killing field where a rogue police force and vigilantes roam with impunity.

But above all we ask our fellow citizens to come out and speak up for the inviolability and universality of human rights, the rule of law, and due process. These gains that our people made in their long struggle for their fundamental rights and democratic rule are under threat. Impunity should neither be made the foundation nor should it be made to serve as a “counter-balance” or “exchange” for future economic and social development. Acquiescence and silence in the face of the impunity that now reigns is the surest way to the loss of the rights of all.

CCHR is a broad coalition of non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs), human rights lawyers, religious sector and members of the academe that came together to defend and assert human rights for all.

Aquino’s Sona report: Conveniently selected; eluding realities

FAILED. A grade given by SENTRO workers to Pres Aquino for failing to address the workers' needs

FAILED. A grade given by SENTRO workers to Pres. Aquino for failing to address the workers’ plight

GOODBYE P-Noy. Enjoy your retirement from the presidency.

But how about the workers and the vast majority of citizens you will leave behind who remain excluded from the much vaunted economic growth that your administration has supposedly achieved after almost six years in power? How about the proposed bills for various social programs – especially the Security of Tenure (SOT) and the Freedom of Information (FOI) bills – that would ensure the rights of the underprivileged as well as strengthen government transparency and accountability, but which Malacañang and Congress have continued to ignore?

Your economic team has trumpeted that your government has posted the highest five-year average hike in the gross domestic product during the past four decades, when the mean annual growth rate of 6.3 percent was registered from 2010 to 2014, one of the biggest in Asia. If the economy grows to at least 7 percent this year, it would also be the fastest six-year GDP average since the 1950s. Likewise, under your helm the Philippines has been granted recognitions by local and international pro-business institutions for its rising “growth” and “competitiveness,” including the much coveted global investment ratings.

However, reality from the ground attests that poverty is still pervasive if not worsening despite the “growths” and the cosmetic solutions to it, like the conditional cash transfer (CCT) dole-out under the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program). The enormous wealth of the few top richest Filipinos included in the Forbes’ super rich list as well as the top Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed firms and the country’s Top 1000 corporations have further soared to hundreds of billions and tens of trillions of pesos – amid the hand-to-mouth existence of many Filipino families and the starvation wages of millions of Filipino workers. In fact, the mandated minimum wages are practically miserable to sustain a decent life; for instance, the NCR’s basic daily pay, the nation’s highest, has actually rose (real value) by a mere P17 or less than 5 percent since the start of Aquino’s term. We’re still not talking here of the yet rampant non-compliance of minimum wages and other labor standards.

Likewise, even the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), an international forecasting and advisory body to business groups, admitted that in spite of the rapid economic growth in the Philippines in the past years, the poverty rate would remain high due to the unabated and sharp income divide between the few rich and the majority poor, thus the country “will remain one of Southeast Asia’s poorest economies, with a lower level of GDP per head (merely $2,843 at market exchange rates) than the majority of the region’s other major economies.”

Your labor, economic and statistics team has boasted that the unemployment rate last year has substantially dropped to 6.8 percent, purportedly the lowest in 10 years. Really? But what’s the real score here? This preposterous claim has to be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, 66 percent of the jobs generated in 2013 to 2014 are either self-employed or own-account workers (38 percent) or working without pay in own family-operated business or farm (28 percent). Underutilized workers, on the other hand, or the unemployed and underemployed have been cut by only by over 149,000 and thus remain a high of 27 percent of the labor force. These are hardly “decent” jobs at all or those with fair wages and benefits and with security of tenure.

An independent research institution also disclosed that last year the ranks of jobless Filipinos have likely risen by at least 100,000, the underemployed by at least a million, and part-time workers by at least 1.5 million. In 2014 there were no less than 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed or a total of 12.2 million people without jobs or with precarious jobs, which mirrors the deteriorating job insecurity and contractualization.

These facts and figures revolve only in the income and employment areas that were heavily tampered with by Aquino and his speechwriters in his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) yesterday. But these areas effectively spell the present adversities and the bleak future being faced by the Filipino people – as long as neoliberal economic programs remain imposed in the country, and as long as the elites and their minions continue to rule and rob us.