May 1, 2016
FOR their May First celebrations, various cause-oriented groups – including two, which are vying for party-list seats in the upcoming May elections – marched to Malacanang today to call for an end to contractualization and elite rule.
Members of partylists Ating Guro and Sanlakas, and militant organizations Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), converged in front of the Manila City Hall for a short program before marching to Mendiola, under two huge red banners with the slogans: “Eleksyong walang ilusyon! Manggagawa, panghawakan ang kinabukasan! Itayo ang gobyerno ng masa!” and “End contractualizaton!, Labanan ang Pandaraya! Iwaksi ang Elitistang Paghahari!”
“Endo” for contractualization
Leody de Guzman, BMP president and Sanlakas nominee said, “The mere mention of the problem of contractualization by all candidates at the recent presidential debate would not appease the millions of contractual workers and the threatened trade union movement, since it is a grave concern that warrants immediate and decisive action. Contractualization means cheap and docile labor. It not only denies the Constitutional right to security of tenure but to the rights to living wage and self-organization, as well”.
He added, “The presidential bets do not deserve even a word of praise for bringing this anti-worker scheme to the electoral arena. It was the years of issue campaigning by the labor movement that brought it to the fore. They should rather be reprimanded by their uncanny collective silence on legal loopholes that allow contractualization”.
The labor leader stressed the need to amend Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code, which granted to the Labor Secretary the power to regulate, restrict or prohibit contractual employment. The implementing rules to the said provisions are contained in the infamous Department Order #18-A, which has consistently earned the ire of the trade union movement, including its so-called “moderate” sections.
De Guzman clarified, “There should be an absolute prohibition to the contracting out of work that is ‘usually necessary and desirable’ in the normal operations of a business, as such work should be performed by a regular employee in accordance to article 280 of the Code. Only such reform would lead to the ‘endo’ of contractualization”.
Public school teachers are toilers too
Joining the militant groups in their traditional Labor Day march are public school teachers from Ating Guro and Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC), who came in pink.
Benjo Basas, Ating Guro nominee and a classroom-teacher from Caloocan said, “Most people, even some of our co-teachers, do not regard themselves as part of the working class. But the factory worker and the lowly civil servant share a lot in common, despite the difference between private and public sectors or manual and mental labor. We do not own factories, machines and equipment. We work in exchange for our pay. We are toilers. We belong to the same class”.
“Public school teachers are the at front line of our war against illiteracy and idiocy. We usually work for more than eight hours a day since our duties are not limited to classroom teaching. Yet, despite persistent efforts to uplift our teachers’ rights, welfare and dignity, we remain as one of the lowest-paid in the civilian bureaucracy. Hence, in the face of an inconsiderate employer, which no other than the powerful Philippine state, public school teachers must unite with its brothers and sisters in the labor movement,” Basas explained.
Reject “Yellow Regime” and Elite Rule
At the march, Sonny Melencio, chairperson of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) stressed the “particularity of this year’s Labor Day”.
Melencio expounded, “Today’s May First does not only occur in an election year. It is also the last Labor Day for the ‘yellow regime’ of Noynoy Aquino. We march to Mendiola not to wish farewell but to bid good riddance to president that has done nothing good to the Filipino workers and their families”.
“Noynoy Aquino has cemented his legacy as the worst president we ever had, not only because of his trademark stoic response to crisis situations such as the Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis, the landfall of typhoon Yolanda, the Mamasapano encounter and the Kidapawan massacre. More so, because his ‘tuwid na daan’ ended up as an epic fail,” he furthered.
“After six years under Noynoy, not a drop of the proclaimed economic growth has trickled to the Filipino masses. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened. Only the oligarchs, who stood as partners to the wholesale plunder of the local economy by foreign monopolies, benefited from the lackluster Noynoy regime. No wonder its annointed successor – the cacique Mar Roxas – gained nothing but popular scorn and disgust,” he added.
“The PLM joins the call for a zero vote for national candidates of the Liberal Party. But we criticize those who ride upon the people’s disdain not just to the Liberal Party but the entire elite democracy that was reestablished by EDSA 1986, to call for a return of the Marcoses in Malacanang or for fascist rule by a populist strongman in the persona of Mayor Duterte. They are carrying correct premises to wrong and worse conclusions. Elite rule in the form of a yellow oligarchy or a Marcos restoration is unacceptable,” the veteran activist surmised.
“Think outside of the ballot box” for social change and meaningful reforms
Lidy Nacpil, SANLAKAS chair expounded, “The people may opt to choose for a lesser evil between the warring representatives of rivalrying factions of the elite. But they should not be fooled that the right to choose one’s oppressors would bring about meaningful reforms and social change for the Filipino people. After the elections, the mass of the voting public would return to factories, plantations, offices, and communities where the rule of the propertied minority prevails”.
“We participate in the coming elections with the hope of merely gaining a voice inside the elite-dominated halls of Congress, in order to advance real change that comes ‘from outside’ the corridors of power – in the form of political parties, labor unions, farmers groups, urban poor associations, student councils, and the like. The Filipino people should think outside of the ballot box in their search for social progress and social justice,” she concluded.