No change under Duterte–workers

MILITANT workers celebrated “true Filipino heroes who follow in the footsteps of Andres Bonifacio” with a protest rally on the occasion of the national hero’s 153rd birth anniversary yesterday.

Thousands of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) unionists and their supporters marched from Welcome Rotunda in Quezon City to Mendiola Bridge in Manila to demand that President Rodrigo Duterte implement changes he promised workers during the election period earlier this year.

“It is clear that neoliberal policies of the past which the Duterte administration still insists on implementing have had no positive effect for the Filipino masses,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog in his speech said.

Labog also expressed dismay over recent statements made by Department of Labor and Employment secretary Silvestre Bello III regarding contractualization.

“Instead of ending contractualization, he has been proposing so-called ‘win-win solutions that insist on workers becoming regularized by their respective contractual employment agencies and not their end employers. That is not true regularization,” Labog said.

“Is Bello really serious about ending contractualization?” Labog asked.

Bayan Muna representative Carlos Zarate also questioned Duterte’s sincerity in alleviating Filipino workers.

“President Duterte has been saying ‘change is coming, change is here.’ It has been almost six months since he took office, but there has been no change, especially for the workers and the poor!” Zarate said.

Bonifacio, who once earned a living manufacturing and selling fans and walking canes, founded the revolutionary movement at the turn of the 20th century that eventually won for the Philippines its independence from Spanish colonization.

The power of youth

Youth and student groups also celebrated the 18th founding anniversary of the militant group Anakbayan and 52nd anniversary of the establishment of the underground organization Kabataang Makabayan yesterday.

Both organizations were established on Bonifacio Day who was in the prime of his youth when he led the revolution.

In a statement, Anakbayan challenged their fellow youth to participate in the struggle for “a just and free society.”
“In this time of intensifying abuses and attacks by imperialism and the ruling class, the youth are, more than ever, called to be the light in the darkness, the hope and defenders of the interests of the people, and servants of the masses – fighting with and alongside them in their struggle,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of KM members held a ‘lightning rally’ at the corner of Blumentritt and España avenues yesterday to commemorate Bonifacio Day.

They in turn called on the youth to take up arms and join the New People’s Army, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

True heroes

At Mendiola, the protesters also criticized the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, saying the late dictator was the exact antithesis of a hero.

“The government has chosen to rehabilitate the traitor Marcos by burying him at the so-called heroes’ cemetery. We hold Duterte accountable for this,” Zarate said.

“This is proof that change will not come even if Duterte said it will. We have to work for it.” Zarate added.

“Instead of emulating and being proud of Marcos, Duterte should instead learn from the examples of Supremo Andres Bonifacio and Comandante Fidel Castro in fighting for the people,” Labog said.

The progressives called those participating in the rally “the true heroes” and vowed to continue their struggle.

“The true hero is not Marcos, but the likes of Edgar Jopson, Crispin Beltran, Rolando Olalia, and you who struggle for national democracy,” Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Aresto Danny dela Fuente said. (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)