Monday, December 29, 2014

Increased 'de minimis' is good but we want discount card, too - labor group

Laborers buying snacks (file photo)

MANILA, Philippines -- While thanking the Aquino administration for increasing workers’ “de minimis” benefits by P10,000, a labor group said on Monday the government could do more for workers by providing them with discount cards they can use to purchase groceries or pay tuition, subsidized by unspent appropriations in the 2014 budget.

"We want to see President Benigno Aquino III make a long-lasting and meaningfully impacting reward in spending (the) 2014 excess annual budget for working Filipinos,” Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions, said in a statement.

De minimis benefits are small benefits not covered by withholding tax that are given to employees on top of their wages and are supposed to go to workers’ health, company goodwill and efficiency.

Starting January, workers’ de minimis benefits will increase from the current P94,225, implemented in 2012, to P104,225.

Current de minimis coverage includea P750 medical cash allowance for dependents, P1,500 rice subsidy, P4,000 annual uniform and clothing allowance, P10,000 annual medical allowance, P300 laundry allowance, P10,000 for employees’ achievement award, P5,000 Christmas gifts and/or anniversary certificates, and 25 percent meal allowance for overtime work and nightshift in all regions.

Aside from proposing discount cards, ALU also suggested that government spend any budget surplus by building a workers’ center where local talent may be trained and certified based on the needs of the domestic labor market.

The discount card and workers’ center were among the 10 demands presented by the Nagkaisa labor coalition during their April 29 Labor Day breakfast with Aquino.

“We don’t want Mr. Aquino’s legacy for working people to be known for improving de minimis benefits alone. He can improve their lives by investing on a training center or impacting their lives with a discount card,” Seno said. - By: Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon.com

Saturday, December 27, 2014

‘Tax the rich instead of raising MRT fares’

THE labor coalition Nagkaisa! on Friday demanded that the government take away the subsidies and tax perks from the rich, such as the P5.2-billion subsidy for the power industry and five to seven-year tax holidays for local and foreign corporations, if it wants to save P2 billion in subsidies by imposing fare increases in the MRT and LRT.

Partido Manggagawa spokesman Wilson Fortaleza said removing the P7-billion to P10-billion annual train subsidy to free up money amounting to P2 billion for other social services was a fallacious argument, saying the poor, who are entitled to government subsidy in varying degrees, should not, by class or geographical location, be pitted against each other.

"This is comparable to the fact that businesses across all industry also enjoy billions of pesos of subsidy in the form of tax holidays, financial assistance, free repatriation as well as import and export privileges," said Fortaleza whose PM belongs to Nagkaisa! coalition.

He said the power industry, the most lucrative business in the country today, received a total of P5.2 billion in subsidy in 2012 based on the 2012 Census of Philippine Business and Industry.

He also cited the seven-year tax holiday granted a Thai-owned firm for putting up a P2- billion hogs and poultry business in the country, prompting local producers and growers to complain that the domestic hogs and poultry industry was being killed by big foreign corporations.

Fortaleza reiterated his group's position that it is more productive to provide an annual subsidy to the estimated 500 million rides of blue-collar workers and students who use the trains regularly than the luxurious lifestyles of 500 public officials.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the commuters' groups RILES and TREN are set to question the MRT-LRT fare hike on Jan. 5, a day after the rate increase is enforced by the government.

"We will question the basis for the increase, the authority of the agencies who approved the hike and the process by which the increase was upheld," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

He exhorted the public to support their initiative especially in seeking a temporary restraining order and massive street protests.

"We call on commuters to support this initiative by joining the various protest actions leading up to Jan. 5 and beyond. It is callous on the part of the regime to announce the hike during the holidays and implement it during the visit of the Pope. This period of joy and hope is dampened by the prospect of greater burdens on the poor," Reyes said.

"For that, let the world see the heartless, anti-people government that we have. And let the world know that the Filipino people are resisting its unjust impositions."

Nagkaisa!, for its part, likewise bewailed the huge revenue losses coming from tax evasion and smuggling, saying the failure to address this age-old problem had created a "pass-on" culture in public policy.

"This is the reason why the burden shifted heavily to indirect taxes like Value Added Tax 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," Fortaleza said.

He said smuggled goods had no local labor components, which was both a revenue and job loss to Filipinos.

He said 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 was plugged, the removal of MRT/LRT subsidy would be 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," Fortaleza said.

Quoting the World Bank, Cayetano said for every P1 collected by the government, P2 remained uncollected. This was estimated to be between P2 to P4 trillion of lost revenue or bigger than the recently approved budget of P2.6 trillion.

Cayetano said he would take up this issue next year amid the plan by the government to remove the subsidy to the metro rail system. The plan would double the MRT and LRT fares beginning Jan. 4.

Fortaleza said the coalition Nagkaisa! will be meeting next week to draw up plans against the impending fare hike. -  By Christine F. Herrera / Manila Standard Today

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Protest against MRT-LRT fare hike swells

Congressmen crossed party lines yesterday to join the swelling protest against government’s approval of a 50 to 87 percent fare hike on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) systems starting January 4.

Reps. Sherwin Gatchalian (NPC, Valenzuela City) and Terry Ridon (Kabataan Partylist) were the latest to join the growing number of politicians who have assailed the planned fare increase.

Gatchalian, a member of the Malacanang-allied majority bloc, warned that whatever gains the public has been experiencing from a series of cuts in oil prices, the MRT and LRT fare hike will spoil.

Effective January 4, MRT-3 fare rates from North Avenue to Taft Avenue and vice versa in MRT-3 will increase to P28 from P15. Fares from Baclaran to Roosevelt and vice versa (LRT-1) will increase to P30 from P20 and LRT-2 fares from Recto to Santolan and vice versa will increase to P25 from P15.

The announcement came at a time when the MRT-3 and LRT Lines 1 and 2 were accorded substantial government assistance in the soon-to-be signed General Appropriations Act, which includes the amounts of P4.65 billion in subsidy, P7.94 billion for MRT rehabilitation and P4.67 in unpaid MRT taxes.

REDUCE P2-B SUBSIDY

The newly approved bicameral version of the Supplemental Budget, which will be immediately carried out in 2015, has the following items: P1.21 billion for MRT rehabilitation and capacity extension and P728 million rehabilitation fund for LRT 1 and 2.

“Instead of raising MRT and LRT fares, the government should first improve the services of the mass transport system amid frequent glitches and a serious accident last August where 40 passengers were injured after a wayward MRT train rammed through metal railings and a lamp post at Taft Avenue Station,” said Gatchalian, a senior member of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC) .

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has justified the increase in mass transit fares as a move to reduce the P12 billion which the government spends to subsidies the MRT and LRT operations.

The DOTC said the hike will cut the subsidy by P2-B, an amount equivalent to the construction cost of 8,240 classrooms, or 11,440 hectares of irrigated farmlands.

Gatchalian, a former mayor and currently vice chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development lamented that “govt did not even wait for the holiday season to pass before announcing the planned increase for MRT and LRT fares. This will definitely neutralize the positive effects of the recent jeepney fare rollback as well as the impending rollback in taxi and bus fares.” .

INSULT, INJUSTICE

At the Senate, Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services sub-committee demanded that DOTC defer the ‘’unnecessary and untimely’’ fare increase describing it as an “added insult and an injustice to the suffering riding public.”

“How could they be so insensitive to the millions of commuters and MRT and LRT riders?’’ Poe lamented, stressing that DOTC has not met public expectations even for the basic facilities of the train system like elevators, escalators and comfort rooms.

To feel the daily burden of MRT commuters, Poe joined the long queue of passengers, bought her ticket and rode the MRT from its North Avenue station to Taft. .

“We must remember that a mass transport system such as the MRT is an essential government service,” Poe stressed.

“The sorry state of the MRT brought about to a large extent by government mismanagement and ineptness cannot justify an increase. The government is obligated to maintain the subsidy until the system’s services and safety are upgraded,” the senator added.

“While the MRT and LRT is in Metro Manila, the riders of these trains are mostly wage earners whose contribution to the national economy is far reaching and impacts productivity,” Poe stressed.

Labor and commuter groups slammed the fare hike and urged government to increase the subsidy since it benefits tax-paying workers, who contribute to the country’s coffers.

“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,” Nagkaisa member Wilson Fortaleza said.

Nagkaisa is a coalition of at least 49 labor federations in the country.

IT’S ABOUT TIME

But Malacañang stood firm on the rail fare hike.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma said the government has been subsidizing the MRT for years and it is just about time to correct the fare system.

He, however, said the Palace will leave it to Congress to decide on the matter. (With a report from Samuel P.Medenilla) Manila Bulletin

TRO sought vs LRT/MRT fare hikes

MANILA, Philippines - An organization of commuters and consumers together with Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz will ask the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the planned fare increase in the Light and Metro Rail Transit systems in January.

“We are filing a petition with the SC, together with the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters’ Group, to stop this fare adjustment. Our lawyers are now drafting the petition,” De la Cruz said yesterday.

“This fare increase is the worst Christmas gift that the administration can give to the public, especially the millions of working masses in Metro Manila. This is not only unchristian, it is totally uncalled for as there was no public hearing,” he added.

De la Cruz said millions of riders and taxpayers subsidize LRT Lines 1 and 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3.

“However, a good part of annual subsidies is lost to corruption. We are left with a creaking system that is an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya has announced that fares would go up starting on Jan. 4.

He said several public hearings had been conducted in the past.

The fare adjustment will affect more than a million commuters using the LRT and MRT-3 lines. An estimated 650,000 riders take the MRT-3 daily.

Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis party-list said the government should take over MRT-3, instead of increasing fares.

He said higher fares would only benefit the facility’s investors.

Hicap said MRT-3 “was funded majority by public funds,” with only $190 million being contributed by private investors and $485 million coming from loans guaranteed by the government.

He pointed out that investors were assured of a 15-percent return on their investment.

“The Aquino government should retract its order to increase fares, start taking over the rail system and abandon its plan of using billions in public funds to buy the utility only to privatize it all over again,” he said.

Palace: Congress probe not needed

There is no need for a special session of Congress to assess the legality of the impending fare hike in the LRT and MRT because this is justified, Malacañang said yesterday.

“There is no need for an investigation because the basis for the fare hike is reasonable. The subsidy has been in effect for a long time. It’s time to correct the fare system,” Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office told reporters yesterday.

But a special probe is within the prerogative of Congress if it decides to conduct one, Coloma said.

He said it would be up to the leaders of Congress to decide on the matter, adding the executive is ready to defend its decision.

Coloma said Malacañang would not back down on its position to increase fares in the LRT and MRT.

He said the upgrade of LRT and MRT facilities had started even before the decision for a fare hike was finalized.

“In fact, new coaches for MRT 3 will arrive next year,” Coloma said.

“We just really need to address the long-delayed and long-postponed issue of rationalizing or adjusting the fare structure,” he added.

Coloma said government’s efforts to improve the operations of the railway systems, including maintenance and replacement of tracks, were continuing.

He said President Aquino had explained to the public the need to collect reasonable LRT and MRT fares.

Fare hike opposed

Sen. Grace Poe yesterday called on the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to defer the impending fare increase in the LRT and MRT.

Poe said the fare hike is uncalled for as commuters want to see improvement first in the railway system.

“A mass transport system such as the MRT is an essential government service. The fare increase is an added insult and an injustice to the riding public whose lives are put on the line everyday,” she said.

“The government is obligated to maintain the subsidy until the train system’s services are upgraded,” she added.

Based on the new fare matrices issued by the DOTC, rates for MRT 3 will increase from P15 to P28 (from North Avenue to Taft Avenue and vice versa); from P20 to P30 in LRT-1 (Baclaran to Roosevelt), and from P15 to P25 in LRT-2 (Recto to Santolan).

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, senior vice chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development, joined yesterday the thousands of commuters opposing the LRT and MRT fare hike amid frequent breakdowns due to mismanagement.

“Instead of raising MRT and LRT fares, the government should first improve the services of the mass transport system,” Gatchalian said.

Protests set

Various labor groups are gearing for protest actions to express opposition to the upcoming increase in LRT and MRT fares.

Nagkaisa, the country’s biggest labor coalition, said different trade unions would meet after the holidays to discuss plans against the fare hike.

Nagkaisa convenor Josua Mata said most of the train riders belong to the working class. – By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | With Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero, Mayen Jaymalin

Monday, December 22, 2014

Poe to DOTC: Stop MRT fare hike

SENATOR Grace Poe urged the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Monday to postpone the "unnecessary and untimely" fare hike of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) effective January 4 next year.

Poe, who led a Senate inquiry on the malfunction of MRT-3, said the fare increase would only bring "insult and injustice" to the commuters.

"We must remember that a mass transport system such as the MRT is an essential government service. The fare increase is an added insult and an injustice to the suffering riding public whose very lives are put on the line everyday," Poe said.

"The sorry state of the MRT brought about to a large extent by government mismanagement and ineptness cannot justify an increase. The government is obligated to maintain the subsidy until the system's services and safety are upgraded," she added.

Based on the new fare metrics released by DOTC, rates for end-to-end trips in MRT-3 will increase to P28 from P15 (from North Avenue to Taft Avenue and vice versa); P30 from P20 in Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 (from Baclaran to Roosevelt and vice versa); and P25 from P15 in LRT-2 (from Recto to Santolan and vice versa).

If there are concerns regarding the implementation of new fare system, Poe said the DOTC should have discussed the matter in the last hearing since three public hearings have already been conducted.

"Considering that they have a date already to implement a new fare system, they should have volunteered it in the last hearing. But they did not. How could they be so insensitive to the millions of commuters and MRT, LRT riders?" she said.

Poe said the agency should have asked for a consultation first from all stakeholders, involving the MRT and LRT riding public.

A group of workers also opposed the fare increase, saying the adjustment would neither mean comfort nor improvement in services.

Partido Manggagawa spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza said more than 70 percent of MRT's finances goes to equity rental to MRT Corporation, its original private concessionaire.

He said PM, together with other groups under the labor coalition Nagkaisa, will be planning protests to oppose the scheduled fare hikes.

“If (President) Aquino thinks that the cheerful mood of the Christmas season will dampen the workers’ and people’s anger at this fare hike, then he is mistaken. People hate those who foul up their Christmas season and think that they can get away with it,” said Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog. (Sunnex)- By Ruth Abbey Gita SunStar

Groups to plan protest actions vs train fare hike

MANILA, Philippines - Various labor and people's organizations will launch protest actions against the impending Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) fares increase next year.

Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro) and one of the convenors of labor alliance Nagkaisa, said the fare hike is "anti-labor."

"The timing is not just bad. The policy itself is very bad, it's anti-labor," Mata said.

He said labor groups under Nagkaisa will meet after Christmas to come up with protest plans against the fare hike.

Mata noted that majority of the city's train riders belong to the working class who are the ones suffering daily from the poorly maintained railway systems.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) also scored the scheduled increase while the workers' wages stagnated to the barest minimum.

"We believe pulling money out of a worker's pocket through a fare hike is an incentive to private concessionaires. We will gain nothing from it, not even improved services," FFW president Sonny Matula.

Another Nagkaisa convenor, the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP, hit the fare hike, saying it shows the government's repeated blunders in running public utilities because of over-reliance to private concessionaires.

Meanwhile, Renato Reyes Jr. of the militant group Bayan said they will contest the fare increase at the "soonest possible time."

"The DOTC's (Department of Transportation and Communicatios) treachery prevents oppositors from getting a TRO (temporary restraining order) because of the holiday season. Nonetheless, we will protest and challenge the fare hike," Reyes said.

The government hopes to generate around P2 billion from the fare hike which ranges from 50 percent to 87 percent.

Reyes alleged that the reason for the increase is not to give better service to the train ridership but to assure profit to the private companies.

"The users-pay principle government is invoking basically tells the commuter to fend for himself as no government subsidy is forthcoming. It's simply government abandonment of the taxpayers," he said. - By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Various groups protest Metro Manila elevated train fare hike

Filipinos say the rate increase had come at a bad time

Manila: Various groups are opposing the government’s move to hike fares for Metro Manila’s intracity elevated train service as they accused the Aquino administration of favouring the interests of big business rather than those of commuters.

The “Nagkaisa,” (United) said a move of the Department of Transportation and Communications to allow a substantial increase in fares for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transport (MRT) would hit commuters, especially at a time when they needed the elevated trains to get around the metropolis for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The groups opposing the train fare hike said the rate increase had come at a bad time.

“The rate of every crushing ride in MRT and LRT will be rising at a time rates in other public utility transport are falling because of plummeting prices of fuel oil. The timing is not just bad,” said Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (United Workers Centre or Sentro).

On the part of the Associated Labour Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), it said the issue is a matter of confused priorities and an ill-effect of the past and present government’s lack of foresight to invest in vital public infrastructures on its own without reliance from the private sector which has its own business interests to look after.

Quite simply they said, the issue of elevated train fare hikes is indicative of the clashing interests of the private
businesses that own and developed the MRT.

The LRT was started during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos in the early 1980s. It was developed to provide cheap and fast transport to commuters in Metro Manila. To do this, the then government had to socialise the infrastructure, in effect “subsidising” a portion of the fares for every train rider.

The MRT on the other hand, which was developed during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos in the 1990s and started operation during the presidency of Joseph Estrada in 2000 was put up mainly from money from private investors rather than the government as in the case of the LRT.

The two public utility infrastructures were from separate and distinct business models and the current government is now trying to blend these two to provide transport to Metro Manila residents and visitors.

“Again, this is another example of the government leading from the back.The result: Over reliance on a greedy, socially irresponsible private sector concessionaire. We are at the not so tender mercy of a government that does not have regulatory resolve,” said Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of ALU-TUCP.

The left-wing umbrella Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan) said the matter concerning the fare hikes is an issue of public interest over private sector gain. Fare hikes are much of a political as well it is an economic concern in a developing country such as the Philippines.

Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bayan said the train fare hikes are an “insult” to the commuter riders, most of whom are from the working class, who have to bear riding in unsafe trains.

In the case of the MRT, Japanese experts said the train has increased chances of being involved in a disastrous accident as its rails and overall running systems have been poorly maintained.

Last August 14, a train of the MRT overshot its tracks at the Taft station. The accident caused injury to a number of people. Fortunately there were no fatalities. - By Gilbert P. Felongco - Gulf News

Monday, December 1, 2014

PNoy joins Filipinos in celebrating Bonifacio Day; militants say hero's struggle finds echoes today

Workers do last-minute sprucing up at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan. The nation marked Sunday the 151st birth anniversary of the Father of the 1896 Philippine revolution. KRISKEN JONES, INTERAKSYON.COM


MANILA – President Benigno S. Aquino III joined the Filipino people in celebrating on Sunday the 151st birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines.

”Andres Bonifacio’s patriotism ignited the passion within our countrymen to fight for liberty and demand dignity, freedom, and sovereignty for the land of our ancestors,” the President said in a press statement on the Tondo, Manila-born man known as the father of the Philippine revolution of 1896.

”Now, 151 years after his birth, our history and identity, tested by the many challenges we have overcome, we unite as one nation to remember his sacrifice and desire to see us take charge of our destiny,” he added.

President Aquino said the country has become a dynamic and progressive hub of business and commerce, an achievement reached under the "tuwid na daan" (straight path) policy of his administration.

”It will continue to thrive as we fight to vanquish the culture of greed and corruption once rampant in our system as we renew our dedication to fostering integrity and accountability in our institutions,” the President said.

The President said he hopes Bonifacio will continue to inspire the Filipino people to aspire for a progressive country.

”We have created for ourselves the opportunity to fulfill the dreams Gat Andres envisioned for us. May this day renew the spirit of camaraderie in all of us and inspire us to aspire to greater heights of prosperity. Together, let us forge a path to a more inclusive future,” President Aquino said.

Born in Tondo, Manila on Nov. 30, 1863, Bonifacio is considered as the Father of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonization. He spearheaded the Katipunan movement in July 1892.

For leading the first revolutionary government against the Spaniards, some historians said Bonifacio should be the first president of the Philippines.

Bonifacio was executed for alleged treason in Maragondon, Cavite on May 10, 1897 by revolutionary men identified with the camp of Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo, who declared the Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit on June 12, 1898.

Thousands march to remember

In contrast to President Aquino's celebratory tone, thousands of people from various sectors marched toward Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola in Manila, calling the hero's birthday a national day of protest against President Aquino and his policies.

“Diwa ni Bonifacio, tunay na pagbabago! Panagutin si Aquino!” is the theme of the rally attended by various anti-Aquino groups and personalities.

“Today we reaffirm our commitment to continue Bonifacio’s unfinished revolution for national freedom and democracy. The people demand genuine change and freedom from foreign dictates, human rights abuses, feudal oppression and gross corruption,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“If we are serious about the subject of change, then we say, Aquino must go. His regime has exacerbated all sorts of social problems such as pork barrel corruption and foreign military occupation. He continues to find new ways of keeping pork in the national budget. He continues to find ways to bring back US bases to our shores. The Aquino regime stands in stark opposition to change,” Reyes added.

The group also condemned the arrest of the secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Antonio Flores, during a protest action Saturday (Nov. 29) in front of Aquino’s house in Quezon City. Flores was detained at Camp Caringal in QC and faces several charges according to police.

Leaders of the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan wore katipunero costumes as they marched from the Espana Avenue to Liwasang Bonifacio where a program was organized.

“Aquino is more Aguinaldo rather than Bonifacio. He claims to be for change yet he defends the status quo. He has betrayed the people’s aspirations for genuine freedom and democracy. His daang matuwid is a sham,” Reyes said.

This year's Bonifacio Day Rally also falls on the 50th anniversary of the iconic youth group Kabataang Makabayan which fought the Marcos dictatorship during the 70's after it was forced underground. The KM still exists today as a member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

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

The 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 Christ,as rush to vote on the Charter change 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.

Pango had 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 on a warrant for illegal possession of firearms and explosives which his union claims was planted.

Anakpawis Partylist commemorated Bonifacio Day in a protest rally at Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila,joining various nationalist groups includingthe Manilalakbayan contingent composed of farmers and Lumad who came all the way from Mindanao.

“Bonifacio and the members of the Katipunan, the great majority of whom came from the ranks of the toiling masses, took concrete and collective action in the pursuit of a society free from the dictates of foreign power, decisively taking steps, in fact, to confiscate friar lands and haciendas in order tobe distributed to poor and landless farmers,” Anakpawis Partylist representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said.



Anakpawis said that Bonifacio was inspired by the social upheavals in the world during his time, particularly the liberaldemocratic European Revolutions of 1848, that overthrew the feudal rule of the aristocratic class and established sovereign democratic republics.

“Other countries have fulfilled the bourgeois-democratic prerequisite of land reform as early as the 19th centurywhich has subsequently made economic development possible, but our country has yet to satifisy such social requirement and has thus been inextricably caught in chronic political and economic crises,” Hicap said.

“If Bonifacio had the Spanish colonialists as his enemy, at present we are confronting US imperialism. Then there was the ilustrado class, now we have the Aquino regime. Spanish colonial rule, meant landlessness, land rent exaction, forced labor, massacre, murder, rape and others forms of exploitation and oppression that victimized our Filipino forebears, the very same ruinous conditions in fact that generally pervade in the 21st-century Philippine society,” Hicap said.

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InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5
By: InterAksyon.com | Philippines News Agency
November 30, 2014 5:27 PM