High Prices,

 

                                     Low Wages

in the time of Aquino III

 

 

Posted: May 22, 2011

 

 

■   Ideological Lessons on the Struggle Over Wages by UP Asst. Prof. Sarah Raymundo

 

■   LRT/MRT fare hikes: PPA all over agaim by UP Physics Prof.  Dr. Giovanni Tapang

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■   On the Standard Issues of the Day (such as graft and corruption, high prices, crime, etc) by Jose Maria Sison

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Photos courtesy of  Gabriela Davao, Gabriela Negros, KMU FB Album,

 KODAO Productions, Mikola Cadiz,  and Tudla Productions as indicated by the filenames

           
     
     

 

Ideological Lessons on the Struggle Over Wages
by Sarah Raymundo

Asst. Professor, UP Diliman

Mayo 19, 2011

 

for Ka Bel, for all that he was and for all that we can be because of him

 

The latest P22 increase in workers’ Cost of Living Allowance in the National Capital Region (NCR) is yet another attack on labor. After a two-year pause on wage hikes, allegedly due to the global financial crisis, this increase can only be read as a means of the Aquino regime to block a legislated P125-nationwide wage hike sponsored by  Anakpawis Partylist representatives in the lower house. While this is not something new for labor advocates sitting on congressional seats given the anti-labor policies of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, the ideological dimensions of this assault on labor by the Aquino regime must be noted. It creeps into the cultural fabric at a velocity that is stimulated by corporate media and it has by now become a perverse national enjoyment of a wager for change.

  

The Aquino clique’s perverse enjoyment of its claims to progress, transparency and accountability—processes in which we may start anew as a nation—works in two ways. First, it warrants a passionate attachment to activity, an obsession with commotion and a penchant for high drama. Think of all those tarpaulins and billboards featuring the President and his supposedly brooding yet accessible image. Notice the explosion of discourses on rights and good governance among the well-heeled and their new-found conviction for what they construe as arguments in support of morality, righteousness, citizenship, and nationhood. Sense all that frenzy for “new ideas” to be brought forth by creative, innovative and flexible minds from academe to advertising firms, from government to organized religion, from technocrats to marketing strategists.

  

Second, it sharpens the “contraction of socialist aspirations,”[i] a worldwide phenomenon brought about by the ideological campaign that announces the end of history within capitalism on account of the “failure” of different socialist experiments. This renewed enjoyment of the promise of a changed nation is less an opening up of new horizons and possibilities than a reinforcement of a foreclosure that aims to contain the system by looking at its coordinates in a “new” way but without seeking to traverse them. It brings to mind the pervert in Lacanian psychonalaysis—the subject who seeks to challenge, question and even transgress certain rules but only to reinstate them at the end of the day. What people experience as  pain and pleasure (jouissance) in “renewing” things precisely to foreclose the possibility of changing a system that breeds grim conditions is perverse enjoyment. What makes this form of enjoyment even more perverse in the literal sense is the appetite for repetition that comes with it. People want to do it again and again, in heightened and more frenzied levels each time.

  

The perverse enjoyment of the idea of a changed nation is hinged on a particular conception of government largely shaped by the economic doctrine of neoliberalism. Under the neoliberal doctrine the following are mainly expected from government:

 

To make itself scarce in areas where social services are concerned. The  mentality that blames the  poor for the dire conditions in which they live; and that poverty is mainly due to the poor’s incapacities and flawed life choices are precisely the desired ideological result of the State roll out on social welfare. The mindset that defends government from even the mildest of criticisms from its citizens as this is counter-productive, destructive and simply uncalled for is the apt public disposition when a government finds itself in a bind with multi-lateral institutions such as the GATT-WTO, IMF-WB and other agreements with other nations that heighten geopolitical disparities (VFA, JPEPA, MLSA). Clearly, how people feel about poverty in this country is pretty much aided by a transmission function that blurs state policies yet highlights their adverse consequences to the most vulnerable sectors in society. This situation leads to a very low public opinion of the poor for they can only be seen and understood in the light of their hardships and rarely in the context of political and economic policies that bear material effects on their life choices and everyday dispositions.   

  

To act as a main conduit in facilitating public and private partnerships. This position stems from the  idea that government can only function properly in dynamic tandem with business since the former tends to be corrupt and congested by bureaucratic procedures while the latter wields and yields profits. This kind of market-worship submits people’s life chances to the (un)predictability of business. Corporations and their “rational” ways are supposed to rule the day. This happens without having to ask why the most powerful  State bailed out Wall Street from utter destruction instead of spending for social welfare at a time when it was most needed by the people. How can people continue to believe in something that does not work is a question that proves the fact that neoliberalism is not just a set of economic policies based on the economic theory of free trade. It doubles up as a social discipline that makes up an ideological formation based on imaginary projections of free trade. We are told that government is in need of corporate tie-ups to ensure the common good.

  

Yet in the case of deregulation—an indispensable tenet of neoliberalism—we can see clearly how the principle of automatic price adjustments enable oil cartels like the Big Three to hoard massive profits thereby strengthening nothing but the already existent and havoc-wreaking industrial oil cartel. This shows that big corporations actually need governments to recode the logic of profit accumulation as legitimate state policies. Public and private partnerships, popularized as PPP’s by the Aquino regime, are partnerships forged within the arena of the raging class struggle. PPPs are overt displays of government’s preferential option for  big business. The PPP of Noynoy Aquino reveals that this president is no fence-sitter. It also exposes a mode of enjoining the people to a social practice that is based on enjoying neoliberalism through the enjoyment of changing the nation at the cost of social solidarity.

 

Destruction of Social Solidarity Through State Roll Out

As an ideological formation, neoliberalism generates social fragmentation resulting from economic and ideological logics. The economic force of neoliberalism has spawned and reinforced the tenet of privatization whose consequences are not limited to state abandonment of social services. It takes in as well those situations in which private entities such as big business can impose wanton violations of civil rights and principles of national sovereignty.

 

In Third World economic zones fueled by foreign investments, in occupations that provide services and even in government offices, contradictions between permanent and contractual employees or workers  arise on account of labor contractualization. This policy serves management’s interest beyond cutting back on workers benefits. In its truest sense, labor contractualization is the suspension of labor power’s capacity to meet human needs. Warning his readers against the tendency to fetishize wages, Michael Denning argues that the same bent “may well be the source of capitalist ideologies of freedom and equality ” that has the effect of granting to the employment contract the status of the “founding moment.”[ii] The strength of Denning’s critique of the wage fetish reaches its height when he argues that “capitalism does not begin with the offer of work, but with the imperative to earn a living.”[iii]

 

In its truest, sense and in its most useful function for capitalism, labor contractualization is a social discipline that promotes a fragmented, competitive and antagonistic appreciation of worker-to-worker relations because it threatens a significant and indispensable human capacity: to survive the requirements for daily living. The division of labor into contractual and permanent corrupts and distorts human capacity, turning it to docility. The (re)production of docile bodies palls human capacity for cooperation and reduces labor to a mere instrument of capital. Profit-making’s bid for the harmony between labor and capital is hardly a wager for order. It is a mechanism to conceal the foundational contradictions of the subsumption of labor under capital that translates into the hierarchic relation between employer and employee. Kept under the wraps, the contradictions that result in this hierarchical relation breeds a mode of compliance that disempowers workers, which in turn creates relations of rivalry and distrust among them.

 

Labor contractualization—legitimized by economic policies such as privatization and deregulation—does not only render labor disposable from the perspective of state and market. Worse, it preciselymakes labor disposable from the point of view of workers themselves. This is clearly an ideological assault on labor preconditioned by the economic imperatives of neoliberalism.  Neoliberal economic imperatives (not exclusive to labor contractualization) are the same factors that worsen the poverty situation in the country.

 

The Clamor for Higher Wages

The workers’ call for an immediate relief from skyrocketing price hikes through the P125  across the board wage hike rests on worsening living conditions. While the struggle is being waged in the economic sphere, it is a significant part of the struggle of and for labor. This struggle entails workers’ demand for their wages to satisfy the cost of daily living of their families.  Undoubtedly, this  makes the whole struggle for higher wages an indispensable  struggle for human lives. That workers are tasked to challenge capitalist class domination in their struggle for human lives makes the fight necessarily political.

 

The role of the State in the struggle for higher wages by no means diffuses the mechanisms of  control over labor. It actually aids the transfer of what is otherwise a confined economic struggle between workers and capitalists within a particular point of production to a locus of political struggle in which the Leninist thesis of the state being an instrument for the exploitation of the oppressed is confirmed. State power, civil society and the relative autonomy that exists between them; and the force of the capitalist class do not divide the functions of class interest with the State as a mere arbiter. “[T]he state, which represents the coercive ‘moment’ of capitalist class domination, embodied in the most highly specialized exclusive, and centralized monopoly of social force, is ultimately the decisive point of concentration for all power in society.”[iv] The Aquino government’s  latest intervention involving wage increase plainly demonstrates how the state collapses with the interest of big business.

 

But what needs to be urgently understood  is not so much of what constitutes President Noynoy Aquino’s class interest. For sadly, his is too predictable for questioning. What begs understanding is the current regime’s capability to sustain its standing despite its very own conflicting claims to change. When President Aquino announced that the Filipino people are his boss, the majority was his addressee. It indicated a shift from the anti-poor, despotic and shady governance under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The fact that the current regime has not implemented policies that will effect significant change in the lives of the Filipino people goes to show that we still have to linger in expectation. This regime’s deployment of perverse enjoyment of “changed” conditions is contingent on people’s expectations, which in turn is highly dependent on time.

 

The people’s precipitous identification--a kind of relating to or fully identifying in great haste with a cause —with President Aquino’s discourse of change is subject to a work of time. This means that as subjects of this particular ideological mobilization, we are being held-up by an idea that has aroused our deepest, most important expectation of ourselves and for our nation: Pagbabago, and it operates within the limits of time. Aren’t all expectations subject to a deadline? The Aquino regime has managed to repackage our aspirations for change into a political propaganda that fuels its political machine. While it is too early to identify the ideological dimensions of this political propaganda, taking the risk of doing so is offered as an exercise in conjunctural grasping.

 

Grasping Perverse Enjoyment

At this point, what looks like a full blown propaganda by the current regime’s political machine is its new gospel of hope founded on the neoliberal tenet of privatization. President Aquino’s fervour for PPPs preaches that we must begin to be faithful to the idea that only the rich can save this country. The partnership is not about holding the hand of one’s equal. It is rather about profit-seeking private entities “sharing with” or “providing for” government the much needed funding for various projects. The idea that change is contingent on the decisiveness and unity of the basic masses is old and trite for this government. Thus, the insult that is the P22 increase in COLA of NCR workers instead of the P125 across the board wage hike is but a logical act for the Aquino regime whose idea of change is limited to an agitation for change that prohibits the working class of our country to push for substantial changes in their conditions because for this government, this class is by no means the bearer of change. This social discrimination is most reproachable especially since that its implementation is accomplished in ways that are almost invisible.  

 

An adequate wage hike is a possibility that is always foreclosed by this regime’s perverse enjoyment of a promise of a changed nation. For what is being renewed every day amidst all that frenzy for change is the rule that there shouldn’t be any substantial change in the quality of life of the working class. Such is the conduct of  a government that has consciously chosen to be under the grip of neoliberalism. What is further foreclosed is not only the idea of an alternative to the system but, even more strongly, our capacity to understand how the current system does not and cannot serve human needs. This ideological assault is reinforced by a culture that renders labor invisible within fields of vision, making it ever so difficult for the working class to partake in the struggle over the “legitimate principle of legitimation.”[v]

 

For example, it is standard procedure for mass media to feature the lives of the rich and famous as it is customary practice to push aside stories for and about the struggles of the working class. And whenever they do, the rare story almost always highlights helplessness, incapacity and the ways by which poor people are saved by their rich benefactors. The point  is not a naive demand for corporate media to turn its back to its interest and suddenly start to feature sharpened class antagonisms in the country by showing various situations of empowerment and disenfranchisement among the working class. The point is to draw attention to the ideological role of corporate media in the promotion of a mode of enjoyment  marked by bourgeois aspirations, a practice that plays a part in the contraction of socialist aspirations. This role is patently consistent with the strategy of reproduction of the U.S. -Aquino regime that consists in an ideological campaign that commands a perverse enjoyment of “changing the nation” but with the unmistakable goal of prohibiting qualitatively changed conditions.

 

My generation and the one that came directly before it are fortunate to have come across a man who had lived through poverty, war, exploitation and tyranny. He lived through these frightful and appalling conditions by going against them, not on his own but with his very own people—the working class of the world. Today, on the third anniversary of his death, I recall a time when I first wrote an essay with a clear yet a weird intention of opening a possibility for Ka Bel to read it. He was, at the time, in jail for struggling against the U.S-Arroyo dictatorship. And so I wrote in Filipino an essay on Post-politics and Human Rights. Two of my cherished mentors gently chided me for some of my vague, inaccurate and difficult concept translations and constructions. I did not take offense as I was secretly pleased with my secret wish. To this day, I have no idea whether Ka Bel ever read that essay. And it only matters now as a funny memory of how I had wanted to relate to a great person like him at some point. A week ago, I had the fortune of finding a book I read for a book report in high school--War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I immediately looked for my favorite lines delivered by the character of Pierre. It was not difficult to find as I somehow remember writing it down from the book’s last few pages to my notebook many years ago. I found the quotation on page 1,409:  

 

“I only wanted to say that all ideas that have great consequences are always simple. My whole idea is that if vicious men are united and constitute a power, then honest men must do the same. You see, it’s so simple.”

 

Ka Bel in all his simplicity and the lucidity of his ever so sharp ideas on the class struggle and the revolution, and how he lived these  could have said the same lines in relation to the struggle for a proletarian state. I am humbled by the thought that those who were with him, those who have not given up the fight miss him every single day in the struggle for genuine change.

 

[i] see Ellen Meiksins Wood. 1995. Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.

 

[ii] Michael Denning. Wageless Life. New Left Review 66 November-December 2010.http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=2871

 

[iii] ibid

 

[iv] Ellen Meiksins Wood. 1995. Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press. p.47.

 

[v] Pierre Bourdieu. 1996. The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. California: Stanford University Press. p.265.

 

Photo from this website http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/05/22/18500751.php

 

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     

 

Media Release
09 May 2011

As sessions resume
Workers picket House for P125 wage hike bill


As Congress resumes its session today, eight days after Labor Day, workers led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Batasang Pambansa to call for the immediate passage of House Bill 375, which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike for private-sector workers, saying Congress should act now to give workers a relief amidst increasing prices of goods and services.

Taking inspiration from the recently-concluded Pacquiao-Mosley fight, the workers staged a boxing match between Pres. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and workers in the ring of the regional wage boards. With big capitalists as referee, the president emerged as a victor, earning the belt "Champion of Big Capitalists." HB 375 was filed by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael V. Mariano.

"We are calling on Congress, as well as the Senate, to compare and contrast workers' starvation wages and capitalists' soaring profits and give workers a much-deserved economic relief in the soonest possible time. In particular, we are calling on the House Labor Committee, headed by Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong, to immediately take up and pass House Bill 375," said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
"Approving HB 375 is the single biggest move that the House Labor Committee can undertake to uphold the interests of the Filipino workers who are suffering from unabated increases in the prices of basic goods, especially petroleum products. Given the statements released by the president and big capitalists, we know that workers won't get a substantial wage increase through the regional wage boards," said Soluta.

The president recently made it clear that his government will not be supporting a legislated wage hike. The National Capital Region wage board is holding deliberations for a wage increase in Metro Manila, which could signal a round of hikes across the country. The Employers Confederation of the Philippines, meanwhile, said that employers could only afford a P13.35 wage increase -- a far cry from the P125 that workers are clamoring for.
 

 

"Workers want a legislated wage hike because it is only through legislation that we have the chance of getting a substantial wage hike, like the P125 across-the-board wage hike that HB 375 seeks to legislate. Any wage hike that is smaller than P125, especially if it is very meager compared with the latter, won't give workers a genuine relief," Soluta said.

"We will continue with our rallies outside Congress and we will step up our lobbying efforts within Congress. Workers across the country want a significant wage hike and members of the House of Representatives should listen to their constituents. Failure to pass HB 375 will further ignite the Filipino workers' and people's outrage directed at the Aquino government," he added.

Reference: Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, 0928-7215313

 

 

     
     
Protesting the very low P22 COLA and urging the legislators to approve the P125 wage hike ▼

NEWS RELEASE
6 May 2011

Wages stuck at 1995 levels - labor NGO
‘Stagnant wages highlight need to abolish wage boards’

Real value of Filipino workers’ wages has been stuck at 1995 levels, a labor NGO pointed out today as it raised the need for Congress to abolish the current wage-fixing mechanism under regional wage boards.

Citing the data from the Bureau of Employment and Labor Statistics (BLES), Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said the latest index of compensation as of 2009 was 112.9, which is exactly the same as during 1995. The group said real value of wages stagnated even with wage orders issued by the regional wage boards.

The index of compensation is a measure of the real value of average wages and social security benefits received by wage and salary workers in a year. Data is released by BLES under the Yearbook of Labor Statistics.

“The fact that real value of workers’ compensation stagnated for 15 years despite pay increases clearly tells us that wage boards failed in its mandate to raise standards of living of Filipino workers. It also tells us that workers have long been denied of a significant wage increase,” said Anna Leah Escresa, EILER executive director.

The group also noted that worker’s compensation in 2009 was much lower compared to its value in 1989, the year when the regional wage boards were created under the RA 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act.

Source: 2010 Yearbook of Labor Statistics, BLES-DOLE (Click here to view original table)

Escresa also urged labor groups to avoid falling into the trap of haggling a wage increase before regional wage boards “since the basic problem is the wage-fixing mechanism itself.”

“Based on its record, regional wage boards have granted increases not exceeding P26 since its inception in 1989. So directing calls for wage increase to wage boards is just like waiting for crumbs,” Escresa said.

“If labor groups really want significant increase that will cut across regions, then they should direct their demands to Congress. That would make sure that they won’t suffer the dismal offering of wage boards,” she added.

EILER strongly backs House Bill 375 filed by Anakpawis Party-list that calls for a P125-across-the-board nationwide wage increase.

The group rejected the P13 maximum wage hike proposed by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), saying it would not really be felt by workers.

“Wage boards have granted as much as P26 and yet real wages have remained stagnant. What more could P13 do especially with today’s nonstop price hikes?” Escresa said.

Reference: Anna Leah Escresa, EILER executive director, 0908-864-2151
--
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)
www.eiler.ph

15 Anonas St., Unit D-24 Cellar Mansions
Barangay Quirino 3-A, Project 3, Quezon City,
Philippines 1102
Tel. No. (+632) 4339287 (telefax);
(+632) 4660062
SEC. Reg. No. A200100111
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

News Release:

Stagnant wages since 1995 warrant urgent approval of legislated wage hike bill - NGO
 

As Congress resumes its session today, EILER reiterates its support for workers' call for a legislated wage increase. The stagnation of the real value of wages since 1995 under current wage-fixing mechanisms highlight the need for Congress to immediately approve the long overdue legislated wage hike bill, a labor NGO pointed out today as Congress resumes its session.
 

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said the latest index of compensation as of 2009 was 112.9, which is exactly the same as during 1995 based on the date from the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES).
 

The index of compensation is a measure of the real value of average wages and social security benefits received by wage and salary workers in a year. Data is released by BLES under the Yearbook of Labor

 

Statistics.
[View table on index of compensation]


 

“The fact that real value of workers’ compensation stagnated for 15 years despite the wage hikes from collective bargaining agreements and regional wage boards should prompt the Congress to intervene and approve a legislated wage hike,” said EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa.


“Congress is in the best position to significantly raise the value of wages in the face of nonstop commodity price hikes, especially given the limitations of CBAs and the failure of regional wage boards,” she added.
 

EILER strongly supports House Bill 375 (HB 375) filed by Anakpawis Party-list that calls for a P125-across-the-board nationwide wage increase for private sector workers.
 

The group also noted that worker’s compensation in 2009 was much lower compared to its value in 1989, the year when the regional wage boards were created under the RA 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act.
“Such failure of the regional wage boards to fulfil its mandate of ensuring decent standards of living should remind workers that haggling wage hikes before them is just like waiting for crumbs,” Escresa said.
 

“If labor groups really want significant increase that will cut across regions, then they should direct their demands to Congress. That would make sure that they won’t suffer the dismal offering of wage boards,” she added.
 

Reference: Anna Leah Escresa, Executive Director, EILER, 09088642151
--
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)
www.eiler.ph

15 Anonas St., Unit D-24 Cellar Mansions
Barangay Quirino 3-A, Project 3, Quezon City,
Philippines 1102
Tel. No. (+632) 4339287 (telefax);
(+632) 4660062
SEC. Reg. No. A200100111

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

anakpawis national anakpawis2003@yahoo.com

Walang dagdag-sahod na desisyon ng NCR wage board, malaking suntok sa mamamayan

Malaking suntok sa mamamayang anakpawis ang hindi pag-aabruba ng ni pisong dagdag-sahod ng NCR wage board, at sa halip ay karampot na P22 ECOLA lang ang binigay.

Masahol pa ito sa inaasahan namin. Binubuntal tayo ng napakatitinding pagtaas ng presyo ng langis at mga bilihin, ngunit mas barat pa sa huling naibigay ng administrasyong Arroyo ang ibinigay sa mga manggagawa ngayon.

Pinatunayan lang muli nito na instrumento lang ang wage boards bara bansutin ang sahod. Ang moro-morong palabas na pinangunahan ng TUCP sa muli nilang pagsasampa ng petisyon ng wage boards ay, gaya ng inaasahan, nauwi sa trahedya. Kaya huwag silang magpanggap na nagulat pa sa kinalabasan ng wage board hearing.

Kinampihan na naman ni Noynoy ang malalaking negisyante, sa halip na ang “boss” niyang manggagawa at mamamayan.

Hinahamon namin ang mga mambabatas na suwayin ang kagustuhan ni Noynoy na hindi magpatupad ng legislated dagdag-sahod. Sa muling pagbubukas ng sesyon ng Kongreso, higit na napapanahong talakayin na at aprubahan ang House Bill 375 ng Anakpawis Partylist para maibigay na ang matagal nang nararapat na makabuluhang dagdag-sahod sa mamamayan.

Reference: Joel Maglunsod, Anakpawis Partylist Executive Vice President
985-5382, 0922-830-7275
______________________________________________________________________________
Partylist ng masa... ANAKPAWIS
56 K-9 Street, West Kamias, Quezon City 1102
email: anakpawis2003@yahoo.com
visit our website http://anakpawis.net/

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

May 17, 2011 - KMU's Protest Action Against E-COLA
By Tudla Productions · 1 of 22

KMU dismayed over approved COLA
By: Anna Rosabel Santiago|Tudla Productions

May 17, 2011—Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) showed compelling dismay over the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) of the P22 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) given to local workers, saying that the amount is insufficient to provide for their families.

According to Roger Soluta, Secretary General of KMU, the approved COLA will not be felt due to increasing prices on other basic needs and commodities. “One week after the 22 pesos COLA hike, we workers are even more aghast as we also hear announcements that oil prices, bread prices, MRT-LRT fares, and electricity rates are about to increase,” Soluta said.

Soluta also mentioned that the DOLE’s presentation of the COLA hike as beneficial to the workers and also as a “win-win solution” for the laborers as well as the capitalists is a mere propaganda. Soluta said that the hike “is in fact a highly-biased decision in favor of big capitalists and to the detriment of the Filipino workers and people.”

“We condemn the DOLE for being a spokesperson of big capitalists on the issue of wage hike,” Soluta added.

Now on his 11th month of presidency, Benigno Aquino III has been dubbed by youth group Anakbayan as “Money Pakyaw” for his supposed inaction regarding the price hikes. “We don’t believe that the government has no power over these oil price increases. What’s clear is that they are helpless to act because they are imbeciles and unwilling to do anything to help the people,” said Andrew Zarate, spokesman for Anakbayan-National Capital Region.

As per March of this year, oil rates have increased 18 times, totaling a 35% escalation as global oil rates continue to swell.
 

 

“The DOLE is trying to show that workers’ wages are a-OK until the recent wave of price hikes, when the P22 COLA it has approved barely makes up for the P18.50 erosion of the value of workers’ wages since Noynoy became president,” Soluta said.


The advocacy of the KMU is a wage increase of the 404 pesos minimum wage that workers receive. They say that an increase is already long overdue and they are demanding for a legislated P125 increase instead of the P22 COLA.

“The DOLE is willfully ignoring the fact that workers’ wages have not been increased in a substantial way for more than a decade now. This recent increase is in fact a lot smaller than what the previous regime granted us,” Soluta declared.

Soluta said that the increased COLA will only be spent in catching up with the price hikes. “The P3.50 will just be eaten up by the various price increases in the coming days and weeks,” he added. With all the economic changes that are clearly not in favor for minimum wage workers, a P125 increase to their wage will be greatly appreciated for it can parallel afore mentioned price increases.

The upcoming enrollment of students is another dilemma mentioned by the KMU and the hikes have caused workers to be wary of their expenses. “It is enrollment season, and we workers cannot even buy new school stuff for our children,” Soluta said.

A study conducted by Ibon Foundation showed that a P125 increase will result to the highest real value of the minimum wage, totaling to 304.90 pesos. Ibon Foundation said that if the proposed increase of the progressive worker groups will be implemented, it will be an indication of the Aquino government’s progress.

According to Soluta, they will continue their condemnation of the P22 COLA, “On May 20, the 3rd death anniversary of our beloved Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran, we will be marching to Mendiola to condemn the Noynoy Aquino regime for this insult to the hard-working Filipino workers and people.”###

     

NEWS RELEASE
10 May 2011

‘P22 COLA increase will be eroded within only 4 months by rising prices’
NGO reiterates call to abolish wage boards

The recently approved P22 increase in the cost of living allowance (COLA) for Metro Manila workers will be totally eroded within only four months, a labor NGO said today as it reiterated to Congress the urgency of abolishing regional wage boards.

Based on Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)’s computation, the new P426 minimum wage with COLA in the National Capital Region (NCR) is only worth P248 in real terms using the April 2011 inflation. Assuming that the current rate of price hikes will continue throughout the year, the P248 real wage in NCR will shrink to only P235 by September – the same real value of minimum wage last month.

For the table and computation, please refer to the notes below]

“The recent P22 increase in COLA will only be eaten up by nonstop price hikes in the coming days and weeks and thus will be hardly felt by Metro Manila workers. What it creates is an illusion of increase when in fact there is only stagnation of workers’ wages,” said EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa.

“Moreover, the trick with the measly COLA increase is that it will not actually affect the overtime and night-shift differential pay as well as benefits of workers since it does not increase the basic daily wage,” she added.

EILER also noted that the real value of P426 which is P248 is almost the same as the value of NCR minimum wage in 1989, the year when the regional wage boards were created under Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act.

“There is practically no change at all in the real value of workers’ wages under the regional wage boards since the wage hikes being granted under the system are only spare change. That is why Congress should mull abolishing this failed mechanism of fixing wages,” said Escresa.

Escresa reiterated that Congress is in the best position to arrest the declining value of wages by approving a legislated wage increase in the form of House Bill 375 filed by Anakpawis Party-list.

HB 375 calls for a P125 nationwide across-the-board wage increase for all private sector workers.

Reference: Anna Leah Escresa, Executive Director, EILER, 09088642151
Notes:

Nominal and Real wage in the National Capital Region, 2011
 

 


--
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)
www.eiler.ph

15 Anonas St., Unit D-24 Cellar Mansions
Barangay Quirino 3-A, Project 3, Quezon City,
Philippines 1102
Tel. No. (+632) 4339287 (telefax);
(+632) 4660062
SEC. Reg. No. A200100111

 

     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     
Youth against fare hikes, protest at MRT/LRT ▼

Press Statement
10 May 2011

P22 COLA – not enough, infuriating

We strongly condemn the National Capital Region wage board’s approval of a meager P22.00 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for workers. This is not surprising, yet still infuriating.

This additional COLA does not get anywhere near the significant or P125 wage hike that we workers have long been clamoring for. It won’t give us real immediate relief amidst the rising prices of basic goods and services, especially petroleum products. Even the wage hike that we are demanding still won’t make wage levels approximate a living wage.

The added COLA shows that the government does not recognize the Filipino workers’ long-standing suffering and hunger. It does not recognize that the current severe economic crisis will continue to affect the nation and the world in the coming years.

We condemn the Aquino regime, the Department of Labor and Employment and the regional wage boards for this additional COLA. Faced with the intensifying clamor for a significant wage hike amidst rising prices, the Aquino regime has for a month been putting on a show of increasing wages – only to approve a meager additional COLA.

Amidst the grinding poverty and extreme exploitation being faced by Filipino workers, the Aquino regime only approved a scanty additional COLA – a clear proof that it is subservient to big foreign and local capitalists. It is clear that all it can do is put on a show, offer band-aid solutions and try to make itself look good –instead of implementing genuine pro-worker reforms.

We also condemn big foreign and local capitalists who speak as if the world will end if a significant wage hike is implemented. They try to make it appear that their businesses will be hurt if a nationwide P125 across-the-board wage increase is approved when it in fact will only mean a 15% reduction from their profits.

This decision only proves once again that the regional wage board is a capitalist instrument for pressing down workers’ wages. It won’t give a significant wage increase even at a time when workers are in dire need, and should therefore be abolished.

We also condemn the Trade Union of the Philippines for conniving with the regime and capitalists in confining workers’ calls for a significant wage hike to the regional wage boards. The TUCP is conspiring with the regime and capitalists in spreading false hopes that there can be a significant wage hike through this capitalist instrument.

Lastly, the Aquino regime’s recent move won’t dampen the workers’ and people’s protests. On the contrary it is pushing us to intensify our protests. In the following days, weeks and months, we will continue with our protest actions for a significant wage hike.

In particular, we ask Congress and the Senate to pass House Bill 375 which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide. We won’t stop until the fight for a significant wage hike is won. The P22 COLA only adds fuel to the burning rage of the Filipino workers and people against the anti-worker and pro-capitalist Aquino regime.

Reference: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597

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Media Release
04 May 2011

KMU to House Labor Committee: take up wage hike bill now

Three days after Labor Day and the Workers’ and People’s Day of Outrage against the Aquino government, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno posed a challenge to Rep. Emil Ong, chairman of the House of Representatives Labor Committee, to start deliberations on a bill for a substantial wage hike.

“We challenge Rep. Emil Ong, chairman of the HOR Labor Committee: take up House Bill 375 now. It is clear from the protests last May 1 that the Filipino workers and people are clamoring for a significant wage hike as an immediate relief from the rising prices of basic goods and services, especially petroleum products,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“Even Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. has spoken up for a significant wage hike and filed Senate Bill 1981. We are challenging Chairman Ong and the rest of the House Committee on Labor to speak up and support the workers’ call for a significant wage hike,” Labog added.

HB 375 was filed by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael V. Mariano, and seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide. The House of Representatives is scheduled to resume sessions on May 9.

“Only a P125 legislated across-the-board wage hike will give the Filipino workers and people an immediate relief for our suffering. We hope the Labor Committee will conduct hearings on HB 375 as soon as Congress resumes,” Labog added.

A bill for a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide has been elevated to third and final reading in the 13th Congress but was shelved amidst a vicious propaganda campaign launched by capitalists saying that a significant wage hike would result in massive lay-offs and inflation.

Data from progressive think-tank Ibon Foundation have proven this claim false, revealing that the implementation of a P125 wage hike will only amount to a 15% reduction in the profits of capitalists.

“A bill for a P125 legislated wage hike has been repeatedly filed in Congress since 2001. Our chairperson emeritus, Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran died without seeing this bill’s passage. It is high time for Congress to side with the workers on this issue. It is high time for Congress to heed the more than a hundred thousand workers and people who marched across-the-country last Labor Day,” Labog said.


Reference: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597

 

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Media Release
11 May 2011

ECOP, AmCham: liars, profit-greedy! – KMU

“We challenge the big capitalists of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the American Chamber of Commerce to refute the data that the P125 across-the-board wage increase will only amount to a 15% reduction in their profits!”

This is labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s challenge to ECOP and AmCham amidst of their repeated statements that giving a significant wage increase to workers will cause widespread business closure and massive layoffs, as well as increasing inflation.

“These organizations of the biggest capitalists do nothing but talk about business closures and massive lay-offs which they say will ensue once a substantial wage hike is approved. On the other hand, they could not refute the Ibon Foundation’s research that their profits would only be reduced by a mere 15% if the P125 across-the-board wage hike is implemented,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“The P22 COLA is too small to ease workers’ burdens amidst the soaring prices of goods and oil products, and will soon be eroded because of the impending MRT-LRT fare hike. Big capitalists, however, are complaining as if their businesses would be made bankrupt by the implementation of the P22 COLA,” said Soluta.

Soluta also presented evidence that investors are capable of providing a significant wage increase to workers.

“In our unions’ negotiations for collective bargaining agreements, we can see how huge the profits of big capitalists are. We know that for the big capitalists in the Top 1,000 corporations in the country, it would be very easy to grant a P125 wage increase,” added Soluta.

"Based on our talks with small businessmen, workers’ wages only compose 10 to 15% of the total cost of production. In a TV interview that I attended, the president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce himself admitted that it is not really workers’ wages that big capitalists spend most for,” Soluta said.

"According to him, oil and electricity costs compose the largest expenses of capitalists today, not wages. The ordinary workers and people, however, are the ones who are suffering most from the soaring prices of oil and other commodities," said Soluta.

"In truth, these so-called arguments being dished out by capitalists are old ones that they use to threaten workers. Capitalists would not voluntarily give a substantial wage increase, and that is why we have to oblige the government to legislate a substantial wage increase, "concludes Soluta.

Reference: Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, 0928-7215313

 

 

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
   
     
     

Youth protest against MRT/LRT fare hike
By Kodao Productions · View Photos

Enero 21, 2011

Manila--Nagprotesta ang may isang daang kabataan sa loob mismo ng Legarda Station ng Light Rail Transit (LRT) kanina upang tutulan ang nakaambang taas-pasahe sa LRT at MRT.

Kabilang sa mga nagprotesta ang ilang mga estudyante mula sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of Sto. Tomas, University of the East, at De La Salle University.

Ayon kay Vencer Crisostomo, secretary general ng Kabataan partylist, hindi naniniwala ang mga kabataan sa sinasabi ni Pangulong Aquino na mapupunta umano sa dagdag serbisyo ang kita sa taas-pasahe bagkus ay magiging dagdag kita at pambayad utang lamang ito sa mga malalaking dayuhang kumpanya at mamumuhunan.

Dagdag pa ni Crisostomo, mula pa man noon ay puro utang lamang ang nababayaran ng LRT at MRT sa dayuhang kumpanya na nagpapatakbo rito na bunga ng pagbibigay ng garantiya ng gobyerno sa mga dayuhang mamamumuhunan ng kita o ang sovereign guarantee.
 

 

Ani Crisostomo, ipinagpapatuloy lamang ni Aquino ang ganitong sistema sa pamamagitan ng Private-Public Program o PPP ng kanyang administrasyon.

Ayon pa sa pagtutuos ng mga kabataan, halos P700 pataas kada buwan ang magiging dagdag na gastusin ng mga mananakay ng LRT at MRT dahil sa pagtataas ng pamasahe nito. At tiyak na magiging malaking bagay ito sa mga pangkaraniwang pamilya.

Panawagan ng mga kabataan, kung tunay umanong tinatahak ni pangulong Aquino ang tuwid na daan ay pigilin niya ang mga ganitong pagtataas na lubhang magiging dagdag na pahirap sa bawat Pilipino.

Sa mga susunod na araw ay papataasin pa umano ng mga kabataan ang antas ng kanilang protesta laban sa MRT at LRT fare hike.

Matapos ang ilang minutong programa sa loob ng estasyon, ipinagpatuloy ng mga kabataan ang kanilang protesta sa baba ng estasyon at nangalap ng pirma mula sa mga pasahero na tutol din sa taas-pasahe sa LRT at MRT.
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Protesting the MRT/LRT fare hikes

 

LRT/MRT fare hikes: PPA all over again

BY GIOVANNI TAPANG, Ph.D.
null
 

http://www.manilatimes.net/opinion/lrtmrt-fare-hikes-ppa-all-over-again/

 

LAST February 4 and 5, commuters, student and people’s organizations participated in a public consultation with the Light Rail Transit Administration (LRTA) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). The public consultation was held by the LRTA with regard to the fare hike that it approved for the light rail transit (LRT) and the metro rail transit (MRT) systems.

 

The LRTA-DOTC study team that recommended the increase claim (without citing how they arrived at the figure) that the full cost fare for LRT/MRT ranges from P35.77 to P60.75, which is far from the current fare of P 12.30 to P 14.20. From this the LRTA-DOTC team projected that government “subsidies” for the LRT/MRT that reached P13.85 billion last year will balloon to P17.06 billion this year if there will be no fare adjustment. This increase of “subsidy” is why the LRTA-DOTC thinks we should increase the LRT/MRT fares.

 

The oppositors under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) pointed out several reasons why the LRT/MRT fare hike is not necessary. One of the points they raised was how much does it actually cost to run and maintain the MRT/LRT system.

 

The Bayan position paper gives an estimated P9.11 cost for operation and maintenance for the MRT line. This means that an MRT customer is already paying P 0.89 to P 5.89 more than what is necessary to maintain the MRT. This calculation is based on the farebox ratios or the proportion of the fare revenues to the total operational costs of the trains. The farebox ratios for the LRT1 and LRT 2 has averaged 1.39 and 1.01 respectively. This means that the revenues cover already the total operating and maintenance cost of the train systems.

 

If the train revenues are already enough to operate the trains, why is there a need for such a large “subsidy” in the first place? The Bayan position paper is clear on pointing out the culprit. First, there is the government guaranteed payments to the Japanese, Czech and local banks that financed the project. On top of these guaranteed debt payments, the government has also guaranteed that the MRT consortium will get 15-percent return on investment (ROI) per annum. In 2009, the previous administration had to buy out 76 percent of the MRT for a $800 million lump-sum payment in order to terminate this ROI guarantee.

 

Haven’t we learned the lesson from the privatization of the power industry? We should recall that the current high electricity rates, one of the highest in Asia, is due to the pass-on rates to consumers. These are partly due to the same type of government guarantees to foreign investors.

 

The infamous PPA or the purchased power agreements comes to mind. We pay for onerous transactions that are in the end detrimental to consumers. In the case of the LRT/MRT, we pay not just for the ride but also for the bad deals made by the government.

Bayan made it clear in their position paper that the issue of debt is important because of two things—(1) the debt burden has been made onerous because of questionable and disadvantageous build-operate and transfer (BOT) contracts such as in the MRT and (2) it is the obligation of government to service these debts through the people’s taxes and not through user fees. They further said that it is government’s duty to lessen, not increase, this burden of the people.

 

Who will be hit by this fare hike? Nearly 70 percent of commuters during weekdays earn below P 10,000 a month and about half are ordinary employees and workers. This social segment benefits from a cheap and accessible mode of transportation. Raising the rates takes this option away from them.

 

The socio-economic role of an urban railway apparently did not escape the notice of the LRTA-DOTC study as they noted that: “Most urban railway systems in the world are not financially viable, but are implemented for their socio-economic benefits. Our Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems promote the use of high-occupancy vehicles, thereby reducing traffic congestion on the corridors served, local air pollution and greenhouse gases emissions. Besides the substantial savings in travel time cost of LRT riders, the LRT systems reduce infrastructure investment in Metro Manila road expansion.”

With this in mind and the fact that the train revenues already cover the costs of operation, we do not see why the LRTA should proceed with this fare increase.

 

What government should do is to review these projects that were funded by onerous debts and bloated by corruption and cancel them if necessary. There are other non-rail revenues that it can creatively explore which can augment the earnings of the train lines instead of increasing the burden of ordinary Filipinos.

 

Prom.bound@gmail.com

Short URL: http://www.manilatimes.net/?p=1654

 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

Riles Network slam LTFRB-DOTC-MALACANANG hocus-pocus;

 “Fare hike imposition, just a ROLE PLAYING GAME for Noynoy”

Members of the Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network trooped to the office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and condemned what they call the dubious hocus-pocus of the Department of Transportation and Communication, LTFRB and Malacanang to impose new fares for the last remaining public mass transport system, the LRT.

RILES Network described the fare hikes as a mere role playing game (RPG) for seemingly three different government entities but are actually one-and-the-same. The LTFRB declared its approval of the LRTA and DOTC petition to increase fares last May 10 in the absence of a public hearing. The LRTA Board is composed of members of the Aquino cabinet, has conveniently maneuvered its way to succeed in the privatization of the LRT and the MRT based on the directions of Malacañang. The LTFRB is part of the LRTA board with Chairman Nelson Laluces as one of eight members of its Board of Directors.

RILES Network spokesperson Sammy Malunes questioned the process where the LTFRB was given so much power to grant the LRTA/DOTC petition. “This situation shows us that the petitioner (DOTC, LRTA) where the LTFRB chairman is a member, will be asking for the approval of the LTFRB. You are part of the petitioner and you have the power to decide on the validity of your petition? How is that even possible? The Aquino government is now insulting us by taking the riding public for fools.”

No public hearing by LTFRB
Malunes also said that the LTFRB did not conduct any public hearing on the matter of the petition to raise the fares. He cited that there were two public consultations, not public hearing, held by the LRTA in Feb 14-15 which showed the overwhelming opposition to the fare hike.

“Are these people not listening to what the people have to say? We have sent our position papers and the signatures of thousands of workers, students and the riding public demanding the junking of the fare increases. And now, with one stroke of the LTFRB, are we just to be held hostage to their dictates?”

Villains not heroes
Malunes also lambasted the DOTC for acting like heroes expecting the gratitude of the public for deferring the implementation of the fare hike. “The public did not ask for a deferment of the implementation of new fares. We demand the outright junking of the fare hike not only because of the current difficulties we are experiencing but also because of our right to avail of this public service. Treachery is an act by villains, not heroes.”

RILES Network pledged to block the fare hike proposal and challenged the Aquino government to withdraw its plan to privatize the LRT and MRT. They said that the fare hike which will be added to the sufferings of ordinary people is only meant to open the light rail system to private entities salivating over its profitability.

“Ultimately, the interest of the people is being sold by this government to the highest bidder. The riding public, the fares we pay, are just ways of marketing the LRT and the MRT to private businesses. This is further highlighted by the fact that the government never heeded the people’s call for a substantial increase in wages amidst skyrocketing prices of goods and services.”

RILES Network will be seeking the support of government officials, particularly from the congress and senate to block the implementation of the LTFRB decision.

     
           
     

http://rilesnetwork.wordpress.com/

     
           
           
     

 

Media Release
06 May0 2011

Mga manggagawa, sinugod ang Mendiola upang kondenahin ang pag-ayaw ni Noynoy sa legislated wage hike

Sa pangunguna ng Kilusang Mayo Uno, sinugod ng mga manggagawa ang Mendiola ngayong umaga upang ipahayag ang kanilang disgusto sa tahasang pahayag ni Pangulong Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino sa harap ng mga employer na hindi itutulak ng kanyang gobyerno ang isang legislated wage hike.

Sa “pambansang kumperensya ng mga employer” ng Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) na ginanap sa Marriot Hotel, Pasay, sinabi ng pangulo na ang gobyerno ay walang intensyong hingin sa kongresong ipasa ang isang across-the-board na pagtaas ng sahod – isang direktang pagsalungat sa panawagang makabuluhang pagtaas ng sahod ng mga manggagawa tulad ng inihain sa Kongreso na P125 across-the-board na dagdag-sahod sa buong bansa.

“Ito ang pinakadirektang pagtanggi ni Noynoy sa mga panawagan ng mga manggagawa para sa makabuluhan at sa gayon ay isinabatas na dagdag-sahod. Hindi kami nabigla ngunit nakapanlulumo pa rin. Ilang araw lamang matapos ang protesta ng mahigit sa daang libong manggagawa sa buong bansa dahil sa pag-hindi ng rehimen sa makabuluhang dagdag-sahod, magpapakita si Noynoy ng ganitong pag-ayaw,” sabi ni Roger Soluta, pangkalahatang kalihim ng KMU.

“Tinatawagan namin ang Kongreso at ang Senado upang isabatas ang isang dagdag-sahod dahil alam namin na walang kaming pag-asang mabigyan ng makabuluhang dagdag-sahod sa pamamagitan ng regional wage boards. Sa pagsasabatas nito lamang kami magkakaroon ng pagkakataong magkaroon ng makabuluhangdagdag-sahod,” dagdag niya.

“Hinamon namin sa KMU si Pangulong Aquino sa isang publikong debate sa isyu ng makabuluhang dagdag-sahod at tinanggihan niya ito. Kaya lamang niyang magsalita sa harap ng mga kapitalista dahil interes nila ang kanyang tinatanganan. Pinapangakuan niya ng nagpapatuloy na pagtubo sa mga kapitalista habang tinatanggihan ang panawagan ng mga manggagawa para sa isang makabuluhang dagdag-sahod,” sabi ni Soluta.

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines

Binirahan din ng KMU ang American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines na dumagdag sa boses ng mga kapitalistang ayaw sa signipikanteng dagdag-sahod, sinasabing ang katulad na pagtaas ng sahod ay magdudulot ng pagsasara ng mga pagawaan at malawakang tanggalan sa trabaho.

Isang malaking kasinungalingan at rurok ng pagkaganid ng kapitalista ang sinasabi ng American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines na magdudulot ng pagsasara ng mga pagawaan ang pagbibigay ng makabuluhang dagdag-sahod. Ang mga negosyong Amerikano sa Pilipinas ay tiyak na nasa nakabubuting posisyon upang ibigay ang kahilingan ng mga manggagawa kaysa mga nagsasariling negosyanteng Pilipino.

“Ang pahayag na ito ng AmCham ay nagpapatunay lamang ng ating punto: sasabihin ng mga kapitalista ang kahit ano upang harangan ang makabuluhang dagdag-sahod,” sabi ni Soluta.

Sa harap ng Malacanang, nagpakita ang mga nagpuprotesta ng isang biswal na presentasyon kung paanong si Noynoy sa isa at ang mga malalaking dayuhan at lokal na kapitalista sa kabilang banda ang sumasakal sa masang Pilipino. Matapos ito, sinunog ng mga mangggagawa ang dilaw na laso upang palayain ang kani-kanilang sarili mula sa kahirapan at kawalang hustisya.

Reference: Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, 0928-7215313

     
           
     
     
     

 

NEWS RELEASE
5 May 2011

14th round of oil price hikes add urgency to P125 wage hike bill – labor NGO
‘Possible hike via wage boards spare change’
 

The latest round of hikes in pump prices, which is the 14th this year, should prompt the House of Representatives to heed the labor’s clamor fo a legislated across-the-board wage increase, a labor NGO said today as Congress will resume session in less than a week.

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said the latest increase – P1.40 per liter in unleaded gasoline, P1 per liter in regular gasoline and 30 centavos per liter in kerosene, and P3 per kilogram in LPG – points to worse wage erosion that warrant a significant pay hike.

Last Tuesday’s increase brought the total hike in the price of gasoline since January at almost P12.

“The non-stop hikes in pump prices will definitely hike commodity prices anew and thus will further erode workers’ wages. It is then imperative for the House of Representatives to act swiftly on the P125-wage increase bill to at least stabilize the declining value of wages,” said Anna Leah Escresa.

EILER supports House Bill 375, filed by Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano, that calls for a P125-across-the-board nationwide wage increase. The labor NGO also dismissed the possible wage hike grants by the wage boards in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the Visayas as “spare change” and “divisive.”

“Pump price hikes pummel not just Metro Manila residents but also Filipinos in other regions. What is needed then is a significant wage increase that will cut across all regions.” said Escresa.

Escresa said that based on the recent pronouncements by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, only NCR, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas workers would receive a measly pay hike of not more than P25.

“A wage increase below P25 is even not enough to cover the barrage price hikes since July last year. Such possible grant by the wage boards clearly doesn’t change the escalating drop in Filipino’s standard of living,” Escresa said.

Reference: Anna Leah Escresa, EILER executive director, 0908-864-2151
--
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER)
www.eiler.ph
15 Anonas St., Unit D-24 Cellar Mansions
Barangay Quirino 3-A, Project 3, Quezon City,
Philippines 1102
Tel. No. (+632) 4339287 (telefax);
(+632) 4660062
SEC. Reg. No. A200100111

 

 

     
           
     
     
           


NEWS RELEASE
10 May 2011

For Reference: REP. LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0917-4049119

P22 ECOLA HIKE IS MEANINGLESS, INSULTING;

GABRIELA TO PRESS ON FOR P125 WAGE HIKE

“The P22 increase in ECOLA is an insult to workers. It is a slap on the face. Granting slave-level increases in workers’ allowances only prove the wage board’s inutility. Moreover, it is proof that the Aquino government treats its workers like dirt.”

This was according to Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan following the NCR wage board’s announcement of a P22 increase in Emergency Cost of Living Allowance or ECOLA.

“The P22 ECOLA is rendered meaningless by skyrocketing increase in the prices of oil and basic commodities. Inflation is already at 4.3% and many expect inflation to go further up in the coming months. This ECOLA increase is practically meaningless. Saan ba makakarating ang P22? Ni hindi mo mga masabing pampalubag-loob ang halagang ito.”

According to Ilagan, “It does not even bring the minimum pay of workers close to the Family Living Wage (FLW) which the National Wages and Productivity Commission pegged at P957. It is not even close to the P988 Cost of Living for a family of six.”

The Gabriela solon further said the increase in ECOLA will not even be included in computations for workers’ benefits and bonuses such as the P13th month pay, separation pay as well as overtime pay computation. “This increase in ECOLA is not just insulting, it is also deceptive.”

“This development gives us more reason to push for HB 375 which will grant workers a substantial P125 across the board increase in the minimum wage. Workers cannot rely on the wage boards for a meaningful increase in their wages.” #

 

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PRESS RELEASE
March 1, 2011

Davao women hold noise barrage vs price hikes

DAVAO CITY – Various women's groups held a one-hour noise barrage in Davao City to coincide with the nationwide protest of women today led by GABRIELA.

During the street press conference, Lyda Canson, Chairperson Emeritus of GABRIELA Davao said, “Women will be commemorating the forthcoming International Women's Day faced with the aggravating poverty and hunger due to the Aquino government's failure to stop the weekly increases of oil and basic commodities and services.”

“Mangalampag na ming mga kababayen-an kay grabe nang kagutom among nabati,” said Cora Espinoza, Gabriela Vice Chairperson and head of the Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (Samakana-Davao).

“Sa among mga protesta sa miaging bulan, murag walay nadungog si Presidente Aquino sa kalisud nga among gibati. Wala man gihapoy lakang nga gibuhat ang gubyerno aron paubsan ang presyo sa palaliton, inay nagsige na hinoon og kataas ang presyo sa lana,” Espinoza said.

Last Saturday, the Department of Energy (DOE) initiated a consultation-dialogue with transport groups in Davao City. In that forum they blamed the conflict abroad for the oil price increase last week.

“The government has no one else to blame but themselves for the oil price increase. Ang hilig nilang magtuturo sa kung sino-sino, eh ang gubyerno naman ni Aquino kung meron lang political will para sa interes ng kanyang mamamayan ay pwedeng magbasura ng Oil Deregulation Law para maibalik sa gubyerno natin ang kontrol sa presyo ng petrolyo,” Canson said.

“On March 8 we will be holding a women's parade and cultural program in commemoration of the Women's Day. This year, we will highlight our protest on the economic crisis brought by high prices and low wage suffered most by our women and their families,” Canson said.#

For reference:

LYDA CANSON - 0917-3747577
CORA ESPINOZA - 0921-3950273


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PRESS RELEASE
January 29, 2011

Gabriela hits oil price hike, urges gov't to remove VAT on basic commodities

DAVAO CITY – More than a hundred women from various women organizations armed with colorful banners and placards led by Gabriela trooped to San Pedro Street, Friday (January 28), during the nationwide opening salvo of the commemoration of the upcoming International Women's Day.

Like the heavy rainfall and flashfloods that has been hitting the nation at the beginning of 2011, the recent oil price hike is a tragic blow on mothers and women who are greatly burdened when the family budget is threatened by price hikes.

“Hike in oil and consumer goods is not a good change. The country’s worsening economic condition as reflected in increasing prices of basic consumer goods is tantamount to the worsening plight of the Filipino women under P-noy's administration. Women, known as the home’s economic managers, suffer the most when the income of the poor working class, the middle working class is sacrificed in order to give big capitalists such as the oil cartels super profits,” said Gabriela Davao Vice Chairperson and Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (SAMAKANA) leader Corazon Espinoza.

Espinoza cited the recent oil price increases which already increased six times since November last year saying “This is a manifestation of President Benigno Aquino's perpetuation of anti-people policies handed down from previous regimes.”

“We know for a fact that oil price increases is tantamount to the increase of prices of basic commodities in the market because of the increase of the transportation cost,” Espinoza said.

One of the mothers from the community who joined the protest attested the increase of prices of basic commodities her family consumes.

“Kaniadto makapalit pa mi sa NFA rice og P25 kada kilo, karon P27 na. Ang asin kadtong Disyembre tag-P4 ra ang kilo, karon tag P10 na,” said Sheila (not her real name).

“Hasta asukar misaka na ang presyo sa P3 gikan P13 tag P16 na ang ¼ kilo. Pait gyud hangtod karon kang Noynoy, way kabag-ohan busa kami nakigduyog aning protesta,” she said.

For her part, Gabriela Davao Chairperson Emeritus Lyda Canson added that “only the big three oil companies Shell, Caltex and Petron and the government, benefit most from any increase in oil price."

“In every peso increase on the price in oil, the government earns millions because this translates to higher E-VAT. Unfortunately, government revenues never translate to social services but are easily pocketed by those in government,” Canson said.

Gabriela urges the government to scrap the Expanded - Value Added Tax imposed on basic commodities.

“Removing EVAT in basic commodities will provide immediate, although temporary, relief to Filipino women. As a president who promised change, PNoy should have the political will to realize this,” Canson said. #


For reference:

CORAZON ESPINOZA - 0921-395-0273
LYDA CANSON - 0917-374-7577

 

Gabriela Davao protest vs price hikes ▼
     

 Corazon Espinoza, Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA-Davao

and Chairperson of Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa

January 29, 2011
DAVAO CITY - Members of GABRIELA lambast anew the recent oil price hikes in a protest action held Friday. GABRIELA also calls on PNoy administration to remove VAT on basic commodities.

 

 Franchie Buhayan, Deputy Secretary General,

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan - Southern Mindanao Region

     
Gabriela Negros piket in front of DTI against High Prices ▼
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

ON THE STANDARD ISSUES OF THE DAY

(Speech delivered by Jose Maria\ Sison at Siliman University, Dumaguete City, on March 9, 1967; sponsored by the Beta Sigma Fraternity.)

THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT has too often been vilified wittingly and unwittingly as being unconcerned about current domestic issues and being concerned exclusively with questions of foreign policy.

It is our task to show that standard issues of the day such as graft and corruption, high prices, and crime and violence among others are concrete manifestations of the essential errors of our neo-colonial status, our national subordination to the ruling policies imposed upon us by foreign and feudal exploiters in our society.

At this stage, it is a fact that nationalists or national democrats in their attempt to stress the fundamental roots of social inequities have spoken in generalities that the petty- minded or colonial-minded try to misrepresent as having no concrete basis.

It should always be stated strongly that the general causes of the suffering of our people are objectively observed in the chain of symptoms and in the chain of concrete reality that we see from day to day. It is our task to observe and list the concrete facts and issues of our national life, such as graft and corruption, high prices, crime and violence, unemployment, poverty, malnourishment, ill-education and ill-health; and from all these, we proceed to our general conclusions and to the basic causes if we plan to take national and fundamental action towards their solution.

We employ generalization only to stress what is fundamental on a national scale or on an international scale. But it should be our task to relate what is general and essential to the concrete facts observed from one locality to another and from short period to short period. In other words, to know and say that the strategic problems of our nation are imperialism and feudalism entails a prior perceptual knowledge of those specific or concrete problems which appear at first as merely the responsibility of this or that particular political party or administration, or of this or that particular person. It is the task of objective and scientific analysis to determine the relationship between the particular facts and such general terms as imperialism and feudalism, or any other generalization.

We are bound by historical and objective conditions larger than anyone of us or any subjective aggrupation of men. No amount of preaching and individual or sectarian crusading will ever succeed if social inequities such as those we have mentioned are mere particular characteristics or symptoms of such a large historical and objective phenomenon as foreign and feudal domination. We have to develop on a general scale the large objective forces of national democracy that can effectively contend with the large objective forces of imperialism and feudalism.

In this discussion we have chosen only three of the standard issues of the day which frequently grace the front pages of our metropolitan newspapers. These are graft and corruption, high prices, and crime and violence which are often superficially said to be the issues or problems larger and more pressing than the basic problems that are imperialism and feudalism.

Graft and Corruption

Let us take the issue and problem of graft and corruption. It has become the traditional basis for throwing out or retaining a political party or person in public office. Generally, however, despite our moral pronouncements about honesty, we have only perpetuated a system wherein the conservative political parties play what we call an in-and-out confidence game on our people. Whatever party gets in goes out later, but only after perpetrating graft and corruption, perpetuating a malevolent tradition of graft and corruption. Why is there so much lack of uprightness and integrity?

It is not enough to seek the help of God for light or to dismiss the problem as a mystery or to blame the erring officials as inherently crooked or simply opportunist, as suggested by the cliche "To err is human". What is needed is a scientific analysis of the objective situation, of the entire system which gives rise to graft and corruption in the magnitude and regularity that we today observe. If we look around, we should know very well (from first-hand accounts of people who have gone there) that the People's Republic of China has successfully eliminated the problem of graft and corruption that had characterized the Kuomintang regime of Chiang Kai-shek and which had inflamed the Chinese people against the regime. The experience of the People's Republic of China shows that it is humanly possible to eliminate graft and corruption or to reduce it to the degree of exceptionality or abnormality. In the United States, big-time contract-pulling persists and more sophisticated ways of
making quick money have been developed by the military-industrial complex and by the big bosses of the capitalist parties. Retired military officers and men of political influence are hired by the big corporations to expedite war contracts with the government: the irregular is made so regular that it no longer looks irregular.

The problem of graft and corruption in the Philippines dates back to colonial times. If the colonial officials bought or incurred great expense to acquire their appointments in Madrid and in Manila, they would certainly commit graft and corruption to recoup their investment; read Rizal's essays and novels to confirm this statement. As in our own neocolonial times, leaders have to spend so much to run for office, the precondition for graft and corruption is perpetuated and, what is more serious, honest and genuine leaders of the masses are excluded from such office because they do not enjoy the financial support that the political representatives of the landlord class and foreign vested interests enjoy.

Because of the scarcity of opportunity for the people in colonial and neocolonial times, the government and the officials in turn become mere dispensers of privileges. To have a job, which should be a normal right of every citizen, is itself a privilege. Even within the middle social strata, such is the case; the bright boys and the mediocre ones in the middle class readily become the political agents and clerks of the ruling class. They have to conform to the exploitative system or else suffer the consequences for taking a different course of action or line of thinking.

The formal right of having a means of livelihood, the principle of freedom from want, has become a granted privilege in this society. The imperialists, compradors, bureaucrats and landlords are the selfish source of privilege, including the "privilege" of having a job. Don't they always say that they create and provide the jobs to us and they do not even mention the fact that they exploit us?

Now, as in colonial times, there is a system that does not only prevent the equal allocation of limited resources and means but also prevent development in accordance with our national needs. The interests of a vested few - the foreign and feudal exploiters - dictate the policies and actions of thhe government and officials, and are opposed to the interests of the broad masses of our people.

The government is made to function only as the mere executive committee of foreign and feudal exploiters. This has come about because our political life has been narrowed down by force of arms or by the state power of the ruling classes to an internal competition of its shifting factions, those political parties maintained and financed by the vested interests in the country. The elections of today are essentially similar to the elections of the principalia of colonial times; the only large difference, of course, is that elections today are conducted on a grander and noisier scale, Madison Avenue style; and on the mere pretense that the populace is being given the chance to make a genuine choice.

But considering the fact that only the parties of the status quo like the NP and LP, including the PPP, prevail and that a genuine working class party has always been restricted from enjoying political freedom within the system, can it not be said that a class dictatorship actually exists in our country, a class dictatorship of imperialist agents, compradors and landlords who manipulate, to uphold their narrow class interests, the prevailing political parties to give us the mere illusion of democratic choice? The question in point is: Can the masses of our people truly make use of elections and other political methods provided us by the system to discipline miscreant government officials and eliminate graft and corruption?

We know for a fact that the greatest opportunity for graft and corruption presents itself in the breach between the government and the private business sector, especially the foreign monopoly firms and the local compradors. Contracts with private entities involving appropriation of public funds or government approval provide the opportunity for graft and corruption. Again, in the breach between two private entities vying for a government contract or approval, the corrupt bureaucrat gains another opportunity for making a fast buck under the table.

It is in the development of the private capitalist sector that graft and corruption has grown in the same way it grew in colonial times, as shown by the example of Capitan Tiago, Quiroga and Don Timoteo Pelaez in Rizal's master novels - characters who symbolize the emerging cash relations in the womb of feudal society. Whereas graft and corruption can occur both between a public entity and a private entity, and between one private entity and another private entity, it cannot occur in the gap between one public entity and another public entity where public documents and public property can easily be checked and verified not only by the government officials themselves but by a political party of a new type that truly represents the interests of the masses and most importantly, by the masses themselves who have a high revolutionary consciousness.

Our proposal then is to change the entire system and make the public sector the leading factor in the command and development of our capital resources, in order to remove the malfeasance that attends the appropriation of public funds and in order to consolidate and direct our resources most effectively for accelerated economic growth. Moreover, we propose that in order to guarantee public control for the public sector, a new kind of politics, a new type of national democracy under the leadership of the working class, should prevail.

Those who would be the first to oppose the revolutionary transformation of our society and the strengthening of our public sector as the leading factor in the command and development of our capital resources are certainly those interested in the perpetuation of a colonial type of economy and a colonial type of society.

They are afraid that the public sector, if strengthened and rationalizes its investments towards industrialization, with the necessary support of the working class party and the masses, would be an instrument that can break the imperialist, comprador and landlord hold on the economy. They prefer to have their "free enterprise", meaning to say, the rapacity of corrupt bureaucrats, the foreign monopolists and the landlords.

What we are proposing is the strengthening of the public sector with the broadening of democracy to the extent that the public sector is the principal factor in our national development, and not merely secondary to the private sector which in turn is controlled as it is now by the foreign and feudal exploiters of this society.

The public sector is certain to take a leading role as the corrupt politics of the reactionary parties is replaced by national democratic politics. The organized masses under the leadership of the

 working class share and assume power and effectively check on the integrity and performance of public servants.

High Prices

Let us take the issue and problem of high prices. The subject cannot be seriously discussed without considering the colonial and agrarian character of our economy and its subordination to U.S. imperialism. The current rise in prices can only be understood within this context.


It is certainly dishonest for our colonial-minded leaders not to acknowledge the disastrous results of the full and sudden decontrol of 1962. Decontrol doubled the peso equivalent of the dollar in the open market, thus automatically depressing the value of the peso. This is one imperialist debauchery of our economy.

 

Our national industrialists now have to pay more for imported capital goods, fuel, raw materials and spare parts replacements. With the resulting increase of the cost of production, some firms have been so hard hit that they have had to fold up while others have had to raise their prices in order to survive. In the course of the weakening of the peso, Filipino firms have been easily taken over by foreign firms. Otherwise, they are simply crushed by the foreign monopolies.
 

With the increase of the prices of the commodities that they buy and the resulting depression of their real wages, the workers have to demand an adjustment of their money wages. The hiking of the wage level in turn increases the costs of production and, the vicious cycle of capitalism, the capitalist must pass on the cost increment to the mass of consumers, leaving the workers with the same or even much lower real wages. The problem of high prices assails the vast majority of our people who have a low fluctuating income or a low fixed income.


 

 

Inflation in the Philippines has resulted from the consistent breakdown of local production in both national industry and agriculture. This in reality does not conform with the Keynesian notion that higher prices reflect higher production. This is the irony of a neocolony that must perforce be subject to developments in the imperialist metropolis.

In agriculture, the glaring irony has occurred. We are an agricultural country and yet we cannot produce sufficient food for our people. The Laurel-Langley Agreement has perpetuated the colonial character of the economy by the terms of preferential trade which favor a raw-material export and a finished-product import trade relations. This is because our landlords have been carried away by the attractive price of sugar extended by the United States and they have turned from production of staples to sugar production. Within the domestic market, even the price of sugar has risen for local consumers because the bulk of it has been exported without consideration of local needs.

Our government is so servile to U.S. imperialism that it has allowed U.S. agro-corporations to take over thousands of hectares of good agricultural lands in Cotabato and elsewhere for the production of pineapple, banana, and other fruits. This has also resulted in the decrease of ricelands in the second most important rice-growing area in the country.

In the U.S. an inflation is going on as a result of massive military spending in the Vietnam war and other forms of deficit spending by the U.S. government. And because we depend so much on manufactures from the U.S., due to lack of industries in our own country, we automatically import the inflation from the U.S. We have to pay more for U.S. goods. The reactionary government also has to get U.S. loans at more onerous terms only to cover artificially the chronic deficit in the colonial exchange of Philippine raw materials and U.S. finished manufactures.
The Vietnam war has caused the upward spiral of prices in the United States. Men are drafted for the non-productive work of fighting a war and receiving pay for it. Basic materials are being diverted from consumer goods production to the production of war materials like bombs, chemicals, military vehicles, construction materials, fuel and the like. These materials have become more expensive because of the high demand from the war industry. Thus, commodities from the United States have become expensive in the Philippines.

We observe that in the Philippines itself, as in many other client-states of the United States, men and materials are being stimulated by higher prices towards the Vietnam war. To cite an instance, if Philippine cement is massively exported to Vietnam, the cost of constructing houses here would rise; the rent for apartment houses would also rise as it is rising now. Also, the expenditure of P35 million and more for the Philippine puppet expeditionary force to Vietnam because of subservience to U.S. policies weakens the internal capacity of the reactionary government to look after the welfare and security of our people.

We can very well see that U.S. imperialist policies are basically responsible for the specific problem of higher prices.

Turning to the basic problem of feudalism, its perpetuation means the continued depression of the purchasing power of the peasant masses. Because of class oppression and backward methods, Philippine agriculture is not providing adequate food for the people. Because of imperialism, Philippine agriculture is not providing raw materials for local industries. Landlords constantly engage in luxury spending and this also tends to jack up prices. The whole feudal problem is sustained by imperialist domination.

The need to vigorously pursue national industrialization in order to provide jobs to the masses of our people is urgent.

By it, we shall provide jobs for our people and they shall be afforded the chance to buy the products of their own labor. In the long run, the unrestricted industrial development of our economy will reduce the prices of commodities. If basic land reform is used to support national industrialization, our peasant masses reaching 70 per cent of our population will be able to buy the products of our industries with their increased purchasing power. Our peasant masses would be providing adequate food and raw materials that serve as the basis for national industrialization.

National industrialization and basic land reform are the main economic demands of the national democratic movement.
 

Only the public sector backed up and determined by the organized workers, peasants, students and other patriotic segments of our population can lead in the achievement of national industrialization and land reform. We cannot depend on foreign investors for these; it is futile to do so as our experience in the last six decades tells us - four decades under direct imperialist rule and two decades under indirect imperialist rule. A small amount of capital is invested in quick profit areas by U.S. firms, oftentimes from our own credit facilities, and in a period of even as short as one year, super-profits squeezed from Filipino labor and from the mass of consumers are already flowing out of the country. U.S. investments always carry with them the curse of super-profit remittances which have plagued and restricted the growth of the Philippine economy. Consider the huge amount of capital that the oil firms, Caltex and Esso, are taking out of the country; consider the danger of placing
control of such a vital commodity as oil in the hands of foreigners. By this commodity alone, the U.S. controls the motion and prices of all goods in this country.

Crime and Violence

Let us take up the issue and problem of crime and violence. Smuggling, gambling, juvenile delinquency and prostitution, robbery, theft and homicide are rampant today. Their widespread presence is condemnable. But it is futile to preach about them if we do not make a systematic study of them and subsequently take critical and constructive action. It is also futile merely to do police work on the culprits. We have to attack the roots within the system which gives rise to all this malevolence.

Smuggling occurs in its pure form on our coastlines; in many instances, smugglers get their contraband through with the connivance of the PC and other armed apparatuses of the state. In its so-called technical form, the imported goods are undervalued or misdeclared at the customs area in order to avoid the payment of taxes. This is subversion of the economy systematically done with the connivance of the highest officials. The imperialist supplier of the smuggled goods, which includes the businessmen and their government, refuses to comply with the requirement of a shipper's export declaration for purposes of checking the amount and kind of goods being imported into our country and also refuses to check on his side the use of boats for "pure" smuggling. As a matter of fact, the imperialist supplier connives with obvious smugglers who arrange the transport of goods by surreptitious means.

Smuggling intensified as a result of the full and immediate decontrol of 1962 which deprived the reactionary government of the right to control foreign exchange for purposes of proper allocation and industrial priority. With dollars now freely in the hands of private entities, their misuse for quick profit operations like smuggling and real estate speculation could be made. The policy of decontrol was adopted as a result of U.S. imperialist pressures so that the foreign monopolies could destroy our local industrial gains, remit their super-profits and maintain a high rate of profit for their industries at home or their local subsidiaries. Under the guise of solving graft and corruption in dollar allocations at the Central Bank, the U.S. imperialists and their local agents agitated for decontrol; but graft and corruption merely shifted to the Bureau of Customs and to police agencies in even greater volume. The worst effects, of course, have been the sabotage of our economy and the
massive outflow of much needed capital in the form of huge profit remittances by U.S. firms and of luxury spending by their landlord and comprador agents.

At the upper rungs of our society, we see the corruption and decadence based on over-affluence amidst public want. To tide them over their boredom in a sea of mass poverty and to satisfy their distorted sense of values, our wealthy businessmen, politicians and evil gentry engage in maintaining queridas, in gambling, and in lavish banquets. Subsequently, juvenile delinquency even among their well-provided children results from the moral breakdown of the home and from their general exposure to the decadent values of imperialist culture which plays up sex and violence, as you will note from current American movies and other cultural vehicles, which are the fetishes of the wealthy. Despite the preachiness of their religious pretensions, their exclusive Catholic school upbringing, they fall flat on their faces morally; they come out as split personalities of the worst cultural complex, that of imperialist and feudal decadence in our semi-colonial and semi-feudal society.

Murder and methods of fraud and terrorism have also characterized our political life. The stakes among our corrupt politicians are control and private appropriation of public funds, maintenance of queridas and relatives on government sinecures, expansion of private businesses through special government privileges, maintenance of vice dens and control of coastlines for smuggling, to cite only a few items that are the crimes of the rich. These comprise the adult delinquency of our so-called statesmen. The magnitude and malignance of this delinquency makes the juvenile delinquency of their children look puny and awkward.

Prostitution, juvenile delinquency in slums, robbery, theft, killings for lack of appreciation of or inability to use the present channels of justice are correctly described as crimes of poverty. We may pass the strictest laws to discourage their commission; but so long as there is no change in the material basis for their occurrence, we shall continue to suffer these crimes of poverty.

Young women from the rural and city slums are annually misled into a life of shame on the false promise of decent jobs or by the sheer lack of the chance to exist decently. Prostitution is the fetishism of any exploitative social system; woman is degraded into the status of mere commodity, the way labor is regarded in this exploitative society.

The vast majority of our people are caught between the stagnation of feudal conditions and the insufficiency of modern opportunities for employment in our neocolonial situation. Robbery and theft are generally forms of spontaneous retaliation by the dispossessed against those who have excessive possessions.

Killings for various reasons at the lower rungs of our society are related to crimes involving property or the alienation of so many people from the moral values that are preached by the ruling classes which at the same time employs legal or illegal means to violate them. Make a study of the records of our brothers in jails and penitentiaries to confirm the general causes of their crimes which at first appear as personal in character.

Of course, it is foolhardy to condone crimes of poverty. But it is simply hypocritical to make any condemnation without understanding the objective causes actually larger and more compelling than the individual culprit.

We are living in a society where our foreign and feudal exploiters do not only provide us with backward, conflicting and alienated values but also restrict our own efforts to develop the forces of national and social progress and the material conditions necessary for a more democratic and nobler existence and culture for all.

The national democratic movement stands for the liberation of our nation and also the liberation of the oppressed Filipino masses. The exploitation of one nation by another nation and of man by man or one class by another gives rise to a chain of iniquities that should never be posed in isolation of their root causes if we truly stand for the freedom, creativity and dignity of man.

           
     
**          

 

/p

  
 

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