People's SONA 2009 in Bicol

 

July 27, 2009

 

 

   
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Photos courtesy of BAYAN - Bikol
           
           

 

Arroyo's SONA perspective delusional - KMU;

Only GMA believes her lies
Date: 28 July 2009
Campaign: Pambansang Bigwas Laban sa Con-Ass
Reference Person: Elmer "Bong" Labog
Contact information: 0929-629-3234

After coming up with a delusional report on the country’s situation for the ninth straight year, Gloria Arroyo has nailed down the obvious: she is talking only to herself.

This was the critique made by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno on Arroyo’s ninth SONA, which contained the usual bluff of Arroyo on the economy and her empty promises, saying that her own perspective on the state of the nation proves her isolation from the people.

“She makes it appear that her critics are saying that the glass is half-empty and that she is saying that it is half-full. We disagree. The glass is empty, Mrs. Arroyo. And no amount of lies, however magically weaved, will make the people think otherwise. We are worse off now than we were in 2001,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog.

“That it is only Mrs. Arroyo and her paid allies who believe her reading of the state of the nation shows just how isolated her regime is from the people,” added Labog.

Labog said the people would definitely not want Arroyo out if the state of the nation is improving. “Not because Mrs. Arroyo’s critics are vicious, but because the people feel the real state of the nation in their stomachs, in their bodies, and in their minds.”

Labog said there is really no good news about the state of the nation, since what Arroyo boasted yesterday are mere stop-gap measures, short-term remedies to the chronic crisis of the country’s economy.

No goobye
Labog also hit Arroyo for refusing to clarify her political plans in 2010, tucking her real agenda under the litany of sevice and goodwill.

“The whole country wants her to say goodbye, but she is saying by and by,” said Labog.

“She had actually the chance to somehow redeem herself yesterday by vowing to stop Cha-Cha and to step down in 2010. Instead, she did not address the issue of Cha-Cha and remained vague on her plans, which stands as a warning to the people,” he added.

Labog said the people will remain vigilant and will keep on fighting unless the Cha-Cha plan is abandoned by the US-Arroyo regime.#

Disproving Arroyo’s five SONA summary points:

1.We have a strong economy and a strong fiscal position to withstand global shocks.

We do not have a strong economy because nationalist industrialization and genuine land reform have not been undertaken by the government and the people. If we did not fall as flat as other countries, it is not because we are not in a strong fiscal position. It’s because we have not taken off yet.

2. We built new modern infrastructure and completed unfinished ones.

The people know that infrastructure projects are great sources of corruption. The fact that infrastructure projects are being undertaken throughout the country is proof that Mrs. Arroyo is dispensing patronage to her allies at the local level.

3. The economy is more fair to the poor than ever before.

The economy is most unfair to the poor than ever before. Majority of VAT collections are shouldered by poor and low-earning families, while big businesses evade scrutiny of their earnings.

4. We are building a sound base for the next generation.

Because Mrs. Arroyo is being judged harshly for her policies at present, she is appealing to the future generations. Her legacy for the next generation is low-paying and part-time jobs, huge-scale hunger and corruption.

5. International authorities have taken notice that we are safer from environmental degradation and man-made disasters.

What is in fact significant during her term is that international authorities have taken notice that the Philippines is being ravaged by man-made disasters wrought by the Arroyo regime: corruption, violation of human rights, and killings of workers, journalists and ordinary citizens.#

 

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The Cross that Families Carry Print E-mail
Jun 09, 2009 at 11:39 AM

KMU website

Surviving from the Impact of the global financial crisis


Filipinos are known for their strong family ties. A Filipino household is usually composed of an extended family; this may include not only the grandparents but also other relatives. Economic and social responsibilities are shared by each family member (depending on the age and capacity). That is why in this time of crisis the workers are not only the ones who suffer, their family shares the same misery too.

The Philippines is not unaffected in the current world economic crisis. But capitalists survive and profit because they pass the burden onto their workers. They found an opportunity to spend less but gain more under the pretext of business survival and keeping by jobs. Logically, workers become more vulnerable and miserable.

Misery no end

The Filipino workers with a family of six have been bleeding from the minimum wage of P382 (US $ 8.12) per day while prices of basic commodities soars. As early as August 2008, inflation rate reached an all-time high of 12.4 percent, the country’s highest in 17years. Food prices hiked by 13.6 percent, prices of staples alone like rice rose to 29.2 percent. Even the P25 per kilo rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) is still expensive for the workers whose income had shrink dramatically. That is why workers and their families who had been living in austerity for the past years had further tighten their belts.

Consequently, poverty in the country worsened this 2009. “Compared to last year, Filipinos who consider their lives had worsened increased by four points to 47 percent, new survey results showed.” There are some workers’ families who had only one meal per day. Aling Nisa, a seamstress in Grever Apparel Phils. Inc. in Cavite for example, only eat lunch on workdays. Since, the crisis compressed working days have been frequent in many factories and I was in a “forced vacation”, laments Aling Nisa. “Usually we just went to sleep to forget our hunger,” Aling Nisa said. Her son is now also part of the 64.52 percent youth who are incapable of paying their tuition and other school fees. Her son did not finish high school because they were unable to pay the P 3,000 graduation fee and now having a hard time to find jobs.

Workers like Aling Nisa live in a cycle of poverty. They can’t send their children to school and get good education or often drop-out when hardships become too tough. They are the young adult who have more difficulties finding employment and doomed to life of misery.

Families in need seem to find ways to survive. Some families devise a “budget adjustment” and focused on their barest necessity. They avoid “luxuries” like buying sodas and eating on restaurants or fast food chains. Ging, a retrenched worker since 2001, is again dependent to her parents to support her basic needs. “I even adjusted my food allowance to get by” Ging said.

Jen, a seamstress in Mactan Apparel Inc. in Cebu City has more worries. Her whole family is financially dependent on her. “My husband is a fisherman and he has no stable income that is why we always prioritize our basic needs like food, rice and body soap. Also, we don’t have the luxury of going out” Jen said.

Buried to Debt

Most of the workers kept afloat by a sea of debt. Borrowing money or goods help them survive daily. They ask their relatives, borrow money or ask for some food for the family. There are times when responsibility of parents to send their children to school is passed onto the relatives albeit temporarily, due to lack of finances. Workers can not always rely on their relatives’ finances because the latter are also cringing from budgetary constraints.

Even singles feel the pinch. Kokoy and Mark, both workers in MEC Electronics Phils. Corporation in Cavite and single complain that their salary is not enough. “We use our ATM card as collateral to money lenders,” Kokoy and Mark shared. ‘The interest rate is as much as 10 percent. Usually the money lender keeps the ATM of the worker-borrower and withdraws the salary for them to ensure that loans are paid before they return the card to its owners’, added Mark and Kokoy. When pay day comes nothing is left from the worker’s salary as loans have to be paid, so they have to borrow money again.

Ingenuity

Some workers are more ingenuous. Aling Suzzy, was laid-off last December 2008 from Maithland-Smith in Cebu City – maker of high-end furniture for export. From the small money she got, she a started small business (retail store). To earn extra income and to finance her child’s education she told CTUHR, “I sell bread every morning… we also put some parts of our house for rent.” Some of my co-workers who returned to the province, put their own small vegetable garden to save money. But those who have nothing to turn to, live in so much suffering, she mused.

Dealing with the Crisis in Organized way

Ludy and Fred, couple who were illegally retrenched in DAIHO (Phils.) Inc. in Laguna said that that joining workers’ union is particularly important to cope with the crisis. “We are both union members and because of that membership we learned not only the workers’ rights that we should enjoy but the real situation of our country”, the unionist couple said.

To Jay and Eddie, both illegally retrenched workers from Golden Will Fashion Phils. in Cavite, from DAIHO (Phils) Inc respectively, unions do more than just helping understand the situation. Their unions give them temporary shelter and feed them even before the crisis hits. Jay faces a fabricated case that the company used as justification to fire him. Eddie together with his other colleagues, on the other hand, is pushing the fight against illegal dismissal, a fight that they have been waging for few months now.

Urgent economic relief

The Filipino workers have been surviving with noodles and dried fish, there’s nothing left of them except their families that the crisis could squeeze further. Aggravating their situation is the capitalist’s move to using the crisis to fire their workers without much obligation. Thus, it makes more imperative for the government to intervene in favour of its workers and peoples, and not in bailing out ailing capitalists.

The government should step in to help the laid-off workers. Support must be provided to at least cover for workers’ basic needs like food, medicine, and decent housing for their family which they could no longer provide due to joblessness. But most of all, beyond family needs, every person needs a decent job not only to earn, to use or hone their skills but to create things necessary for his / her and society’s growth.

Today, more than before, the workers’ demand for a P125 national legislated wage increase must be heeded. Emergency allowances that the government announced must be implemented without delay and subsidies for basic goods be provided so that the poor can somehow cope#.

 

     
     
 
     
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