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Aquino no longer deserves any support from workers and trade unions #endcorporategreed

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THE workers and the trade unions throughout the world mark today the International Labor Day – 125th anniversary globally and 112th celebration here in the Philippines. This historic and revered day has been an enduring and stirring symbol for the working class despite serious setbacks caused by multipronged and systematic neoliberal attacks against the workers, the masses and their organizations, which have seriously threatened to dilute if not totally wipe out the hard-fought sociopolitical gains achieved by the labor movement in the past hundred years or so.

Our observance of May Day this year coincides with the Aquino government’s remaining one year in office highlighted by its legacies of an illusion of prosperity; selective anti-corruption drive; lackluster support if not outright rejection of many progressive proposals like the FOI (freedom of information) bill, deprivatization of public utilities, fast-tracking agrarian reform program, refusing neoliberal economic programs being imposed by multilateral institutions, among others; consenting to US interference in the country’s internal security policy; and rebuffing the trade unions and the civil society.

Mass poverty is deteriorating despite the overhyped economic “growths” or successive GDP (gross domestic product) increases since Benigno Aquino III assumed the presidency in 2010. Ironically, the only thing constant in wealth issue here is that the majority poor are becoming poorer while the few rich are getting richer – the top 20-percent richest Filipinos own and control almost 50% percent (and counting) of the country’s wealth. What Aquino has attained is clearly not an inclusive growth as the GDP hikes are primarily translated into bigger profits for the country’s top corporations and increased assets for a handful of wealthy families every year.

FURTHER demonstrating this sham growth, the national economy has been unable to create sufficient, secure and decent jobs. Much of the employments claimed by the government in 2014 only are of poor quality. Hence, about 90 percent or 918,000 of the 1.02 million additional jobs last year were merely part-time work or those who worked for less than 40 hours. Still included here are self-employed workers (407,000) and those who worked without pay or unpaid family workers (292,000). No wonder millions of Filipinos seek better jobs and pays abroad despite the risks; thus, there would be many other Mary Jane Velosos to emerge.

The acclaims for Aquino’s so-called “tuwid na daan” anticorruption campaign and “reform agenda” will come to naught because of his stubborn loyalty to and tolerance of corrupt and incompetent subordinates. His efforts will be reduced to nothing but a “grand double standard show.”

What Aquino is saying is increasingly becoming contradictory to what he is actually doing. For instance, while declaring “war” against corruption and other anomalies, he miserably failed to actively back the passage of the FOI bill – it could have greatly assisted in prosecuting or even preventing graft and corruption – which has been languishing for years in Congress. Likewise, he kept on parroting the worn out “free market” mantra in rejecting government intervention in inept public utility firms run by private companies (MRT-LRT, for example), which, for their bungling services, wanted the consumers to pay more! As expected, he has been abiding by the key neoliberal economic programs dictated by the likes of the World Trade Organization (WTO). And remember the land distribution under the agrarian reform program? Decades after it was launched by his mother in the late ’80s and a little one year left in his term, tens of thousands of hectares of lands are yet to be given to beneficiaries.

The Mamasapano incident has exposed the very obvious direct role of and cover-up attempts by Aquino in this tragedy, which resulted to the tragic and needless deaths of dozens of police troopers, Moro fighters and innocent civilians. It also utterly disregarded all the ceasefire mechanisms with the MILF and thus gravely jeopardizing the hard earned peace process. In fact, it enabled rightwing hawks and demagogues to fan the flames of Islamophobia and knee-jerk call to arms, and to demand the scrapping of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Finally, it confirmed – although still downplayed – the undue influence or even unconstitutional engagements of the US on our foreign policy and internal security policy.

MOREOVER, SENTRO and its allied organizations in the labor movement, especially the NAGKAISA labor coalition, have through the years been dismayed by Aquino’s penchant to easily rebuff, if not show contempt for, our key labor, trade union and social demands.

From the very outset, Aquino practically ridiculed the SOT (security of tenure) bill in Congress, which could have significantly arrested the worsening contractualization that in turn perpetrates precarious work, cheap wages, measly benefits, and rampant violations of a long list of labor and trade union rights. He even claimed – and copied the wild theory devoid of empirical data – that 10 million workers would lose their jobs if the SOT bill is enacted into law! As a result, the predominantly pro-capitalist and pro-Aquino legislators have sat on the bill and thus it remains pending.

Unlike Aquino’s absurd theory on SOT, there is a study – ironically by the IMF or the International Monetary Fund no less – with empirical data to boot, which links rising inequality to the declining trade union membership. Falling number of union members is one of the principal effects of the absence of security of tenure since only regular workers (not contractuals) are allowed to join unions. The research’s (“Power from the People,” Finance and Development, March 2015, Vol. 52, No. 1) apparently simple but highly logical explanation is that with less union members, less workers are covered by CBAs (collective bargaining agreements). With less CBA coverage, fewer workers enjoy the benefits of supposed economic growth resulting to greater inequality. Likewise, fewer workers benefiting from this growth means fewer workers are effectively participating in the economy, which ultimately means a weaker economy.

THEREFORE, by persistently repudiating the SOT bill – as well as other pro-worker and pro-union policies – Aquino has actually exacerbated the inequality in the country!

Aquino has also openly reneged on his promise – during the elections and upon occupying Malacañang – that he would regularly sit down with labor representatives to prove that his “tuwid na daan” governance truly addresses the issues and concerns of the workers. In particular, Aquino vowed that there would be at least one labor-government meeting every quarter of each year. As it turned out, Aquino’s “dialogue” with labor leaders in April 2014 (preceded by a May 2012 meeting) was only their third and last meeting – with just a little over a year left in his term!

This could have likely prompted the eventual failure of labor’s key legislative and social demands to be certified as urgent measures by Malacañang and Congress: the SOT and FOI bills (as already cited); reasonable not almost worthless wage increases; substantial tax breaks for minimum wage earners; lowering the costs of electricity, transportation fares and other basic services and commodities; firm resolve to end the rising extrajudicial killings (EJKs), especially of trade union and social activists, journalists, etc.

ON THIS HALLOWED DAY for all workers and the organized labor, SENTRO, together with the NAGKAISA, will reassert our final break with the government of Aquino for his dismal record on promoting and protecting labor and trade union rights, and for turning his back on us by breaking his promises to us during his presidential campaign and early into his term when he needed us most. The workers and other basic sectors of society and their organizations hereby end any cooperation to his administration.

Let us take control again of the streets of Manila, Lipa, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Cotabato and elsewhere to project working class unity and reaffirm our commitment to the historic mission of the working class to build a better world.

Mabuhay ang SENTRO!
Mabuhay ang NAGKAISA!
Mabuhay ang pagdiriwang ng Mayo Uno, ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa!
Mabuhay ang kilusang paggawa sa Pilipinas at sa buong mundo!
Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa!
Uring manggagawa, hukbong mapagpalaya!

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Abad should irrevocably resign now; promptly convict Napoles and all her cohorts, including top gov’t officials; full auditing of DAP; abolish all pork barrels

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BUDGET Secretary Florencio Abad must irrevocably resign now to ensure an impartial investigation and full audit of the illegal presidential Disbursement Acceleration Program, which should pave the way for abolishing all forms of pork barrel and prosecuting all those who plundered and misused the public funds, including Janet Lim-Napoles and her cohorts who looted both the DAP and its congressional counterpart, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

This was reiterated by the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa while President Aquino expectedly reaffirms his intransigence in defending Abad and the DAP during today’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) overshadowing his usual economic “growth” reports – despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that essentially declared DAP as unconstitutional.

“There must be full, honest and independent accounting of the DAP, which requires a complete and untainted list and description of DAP projects to be scrutinized, as well as who requested or received or managed the funds that were released,” Frank Mero, Sentro chair, emphasized.

Sentro also expressed its suspicion on the belated and piecemeal approach of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in issuing lists of DAP projects both on its website and press releases, and more so why it continues to withhold disclosing all the DAP project proponents, especially Aquino’s partymates and other political allies.

Reports said that this enormous and potent presidential discretionary fund allegedly reached close to P353 billion “illegally” sourced from state savings and unprogrammed funds in two years only or from 2011, when the DAP was started, to 2012.

The DBM countered that the available fund in that period was P136.75 billion “only” and a total of P114.57 billion was actually used. However, revealing its inconsistency, the DBM later reported that it released DAP funds amounting to P75.1 billion in 2011 and P53.2 billion in 2012 – or a total of P128.3 billion – aside from P16 billion in 2013.

Josua Mata, Sentro secretary general, retorted that whatever the amount and legally aside, “the DAP and all other ‘pork’ for that matter are primarily if not exclusively geared towards political patronage, and not really to pump-prime the economy but to curry favor with the senators, congressmen and other politicians to achieve vested personal or political interests.”

Sentro earlier posted on its website a more detailed statement analyzing the DAP issue – SENTRO STATEMENT ON P-NOY’S ‘PORK’

Hindi Tuwid, Hindi Tama, Hindi Makatuwiran Kapag Pag-unlad ay Para sa Iilan Lamang!

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Labor Coalition Nagkaisa Chides PNoy:

Labor coalition Nagkaisa chided President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for continuing to dishonor workers on Labor day by failing to respond to important issues raised by labor representatives during the non-ceremonial pre-labor day dialogue in Malacanang the other day.

“President Aquino continues to ignore for four years the issues which we believe would help impact the plight of the working people. Workers are feeling deprived of the benefits due them despite of their great contribution to improving economy,” the Nagkaisa said in a statement.

“Since assuming presidency in 2010, Mr. Aquino is always being remembered by workers in every Labor day memorial as a leader who has abandoned and failed them at the critical moment when they needed his leadership in view of growing joblessness, rising cost of living, rampant and unfettered precarious work arrangement, high cost of electricity rate and by conceding social protection services to greedy capitalists,” they added.

“Hindi tuwid, hindi tama, hindi makatuwiran kung pag-unlad ay para sa iilan lamang (it is not straight, it is not right, it is unjust if growth is shared only by a few),” the group stressed as they plan to muster 30,000 of their members march from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola in today’s Labor day commemoration. The group will assemble along Espana at around 8a.m.

Aside from chastising Aquino, labor groups belonging to Nagkaisa also lambasted Energy (DOE) Secretary Jericho Petilla and (BIR) Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares for failing to offer government solutions to pressing long-standing workers’ issues raised by Nagkaisa (United) during the yearly Labor day dialogue with President Benigno Simeon Aquino III held the other day.

The group also tagged the duo as “the weak link that help makes Aquino appear out-of-touch, out-of-tune and widely disconnected with workers’ issues raised by Nagkaisa in the past four years.”

“Out of the several cabinet secretaries who responded to the issues that Nagkaisa raised, it was Ms. Henares and Mr. Petilla who appears to be badly serving the president by refusing to offer solutions to the high cost of electricity and tax issues as a way and means of non-wage economic relief to workers in view of not benefitting from despite of significant contribution to make the economy performed excellently in the past years,” the Nagkaisa said in a statement.

During the span of the two-year Nagkaisa dialogue with the executive government, the alliance have demanded for Henares to provide tax breaks to workers by way of taxing only the incremental amount of the negotiated minimum wage of regular workers and expand the tax exempt de minimis fringe benefits enjoyed by employees from their employers as performance incentive.

“It is clear to us that Ms. Henares wants to meet her revenue quota by making workers bleed in the sand, clearly ignoring the fact that these workers are the backbone of the economy and were responsible for high economic growth that she, the employers, and this administration are flaunting about,” the group said.

On the issue of the high cost of electricity, Nagkaisa have demanded that to make the country attractive to investors that creates jobs a Presidential Commission on Power must be created immediately.

“We proffered that the Commission to be made up of a national multi-sectoral and multi-agency actors who will craft a 24-month national strategy response that will craft a 24-month roadmap aimed at lowering the cost and ensuring sufficiency of energy supply. That way, a reduced electricity cost will make workers spend more on their food and basic necessities at the same time invite foreign and local investors put up more shops, offices and factories creating jobs for the millions unemployed,” the alliance said.

“However, it was clear to all that Mr. Petilla downgraded the proposal to just create a task force under the auspices of the Department of Energy (DOE) rather than a presidential commission is a signal that he wants the Filipino people to be continued hostage by the monopsony of a few powerful elites that controls the entire energy sector. Nagkaisa condemns his arrogance and we will continue to hold him into account. Nagkaisa will insist on the establishment of a commission.”

On the issue of contractualization otherwise known as “555” or “endo”, a precarious scheme of employment arrangement, as the most important issue that Nagkaisa raised in the dialogue, the group welcomed Aquino’s announcing his middle-ground response to this issue on May 28th.

Aside from eliminating contractualization scheme, lowering electricity rates and providing tax breaks to workers, Nagkaisa welcomes the response of Trade and industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Yolanda Rehab and Reconstruction czar Secretary Panfilo Lacson for acceding to Nagkaisa demand for labor sector to be included in the crafting of a jobs-led agro-industrial plan, monitoring and evaluation of the prosecution of extra-judicial killings of union organizers and journalists, and inclusion of Nagkaisa representatives in the formulation and implementation of Yolanda-hit reconstruction and rehabilitation strategies.

Nagkaisa also welcomes the assurance of Aquino to immediately ratify the ILO convention 151— a convention concerning protection of the right to organize and procedures for determining conditions for employment in government service.

The group also awaits Aquino’s unequivocal policy statements in the next dialogue on the issue of revision in the EPIRA law, providing affordable in-city housing program, non-violent transfer of urban poor communities in danger zones, appointment of a workers’ sector representative in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and approve into law the Freedom of Information bill.

ABOUT NAGKAISA

Launched on April 2012, the Nagkaisa is the biggest alliance of labor groups and workers organizations in modern history of trade union movement in the country. It is composed by the Alliance of Free Workers (AFW) , All Filipino Workers Confederation (AFWC), Automobile Industry Workers Alliance (AIWA), Alab Katipunan, Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO), Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Associated Labor Unions- Association of Professional Supervisory Officers Technical Employees Union (ALU-APSOTEU), ALU-Metal, Associated Labor Unions-Philippine Seafarers’Union (ALU-PSU), ALU-Textile, ALU-Transport, Associated Labor Unions-Visayas Mindanao Confederation of Trade Unions (ALU-VIMCOMTU), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Association of Trade Unions (ATU), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Confederation of Independent Unions (CIU), Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS), Construction Workers Solidarity (CWS), Federation of Coca-Cola Unions (FCCU), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Kapisanan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO), Katipunan, Pambansang Kilusan sa Paggawa (KILUSAN), Kapisanan ng mga Kawani sa Koreo sa Pilipinas (KKKP), Labor education and Research Network (LEARN), League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO), Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN), MARINO, National Association of Broadcast Unions (NABU), National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), National Mines and Allied Workers Union (NAMAWU), National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), National Confederation of Transport Union (NCTU), National Union of Portworkers in the Philippines (NUPP), National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN), Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), Pepsi Cola Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP), Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA), Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis (PIGLAS), Philippine Integrated Industries Labor Union (PILLU), Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees Association (PIPSEA), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Philippine Transport and General Workers Organization (PTGWO), SALIGAN, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Workers Solidarity Network (WSN).

TACURONG CITY LGU-EMPLOYEES AMONG MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE VICTIMS

The Confederation of independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU) strongly condemns in the strongest possible terms the brutal slaying of innocent civilians, journalists and political in the so called Maguindanao Massacre last Monday, November 23, 2009.

Victims of this savage act are employees of the Tacurong City local government in Sultan Kudarat province and are members of the Tacurong City Employees Association (TACEA-CIU) who is an affiliate of the CIU. Those unwary and unsuspecting innocent people were on its way to the Cotabato Regional Hospital for medical check up only when the incident happened. They just happen to be at the tail end of the convoy of the Mangudadatus when the group’s convoy was allegedly stopped by the group of the Ampatuans. The convoy was immediately cordoned and sealed off including the Vios.

Reports from Tom Robles, TACEA-CIU president said that there were five (5) fatalities and that the government vehicle they were riding in was buried. Last Tuesday, November 24, 2009 the bodies of Wilhelm Palabrica, the vehicle’s driver and Mercy Palabrica, one of Tacurong City’s licensing staff were found and had showed signs of torture and multiple gunshot wounds. Wednesday was when the bodies of spouses Eduardo, the city’s licensing section head and Cecil Lechonsito were found buried beneath the Vios which was also dugged up totally wrecked from the mass grave of humans and cars.

As of yesterday November 26, 2009 the body of Daryll delos Reyes, also a licensing staff of the City of Tacurong has yet to be found.

CIU calls justice for the victims of this dastardly act of savagery to helpless and innocent unsuspecting civilians caught in the middle by greedy group of influential people who wields enormous powers and enjoy the blessings of their political patrons from the administration and flex their might in their fiefdom without regard to basic human rights and norms of a humane society.

Government should now exercise its political will with dispatch to punish the perpetrators to the full extent of the law without fear or favor and show its sincerity and by example that no one is above the law even if they are the ones instrumental in installing government leaders to their position by delivering the votes during elections.

CIU will be watching the government on what are the steps it will take to address this grossly inappropriate act of senseless killings perpetrated with impunity by politicians that were mandated by its constituents and had sworn to protect them from this kind situation together with the security forces that should also protecting from the bad elements. But in this particular case, it’s the other way around. We do believe that this is just an isolated case and that it can be resolved at the earliest possible time for as long as no one will suppress the truth and that press freedom and liberty will still prevail.

Meanwhile, we will continue to mourn the passing of our dead and pray that justice will be served as swiftly as their lives were taken. Our deepest sympathy and condolences to their bereaved families.