Workers press gov’t for national minimum wage

“As hardworking Filipinos who struggle to support our families through honorable means, we deserve no less than wages and salaries that would afford us humane living conditions. We say enough of the Duterte government’s neglect of our plight.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Workers from the public and private sectors joined forces as they once again push for national minimum wage on Friday, April 26.

Workers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT), Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Workers (COURAGE) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) joined forces to demand for P750 ($14) per day minimum wage or P16,000 ($307) a month.

“We, working Filipinos who depend on wages and salaries for our families’ sustenance, call on the Duterte administration to decisively effect substantial pay hike for all workers and employees in the public and private sectors, regularly-employed and under contracts alike,” the group said in a statement.

They added that salary hike is “the only meaningful way for the government to commemorate the International Labor Day on May 1—honor the men and women from whose labor, skills, and talent our economy rests upon by addressing their dire economic situation.”

Depressed wages

They lamented that workers have been enduring depressed wages for decades through wage regionalization. They slammed the gap of the minimum wage in the different regions compared with the National Capital Region (NCR).

Workers in the regions suffer the most with only P256 ($5) minimum wage in Region 1 while in NCR, minimum wage is pegged at P537 ($10).

Meanwhile, rank and file employees in the government sector receive P11,068 ($213) or P503 ($10) per day which is lower than the present minimum wage. They also decried the huge salary increase of uniformed personnel. In 2017, Duterte approved the salary increase of the military and the police, increasing the entry-level salary to P30,000 ($576) a month. This is higher than the entry-level salary of teachers and nurses in the public sector who receive less than P21,000. ($403).

“The move only served to distort further the already skewed salary scheme in government, leaving the great majority of civilian employees struggling with less than decent salary levels while top officials bask on scandalous pay levels, like the President himself who gets more than P400,000 ($7,684) per month,” the group said.

Read: Salary increases for soldiers, police, but not for teachers, government employees

The AHW national president also said that there are health workers who chose to stay in the country because they are committed to serve their countrymen. However, the government continues to be deaf to their long time call for substantial salary increase; what’s worse is that they are being red-tagged.

“Health workers serve wholeheartedly. We stay in our jobs despite low salaries. We only want to serve our countrymen who are in need. In return, this administration does not give what we need. What’s worse, they suppress our rights especially our freedom of expression and tag us as leftists, which is a baseless accusation,” Mendoza said.

‘Poverty, hunger incidence decreased?’

ACT national president Joselyn Martinez meanwhile slammed the recent survey of the Social Weather Stations showing a supposedly drop in the hunger incidence among Filipinos.

The SWS survey showed that the hunger incidence among Filipinos dropped in 2019, from 10.5 percent in the last quarter of 2018 to 9.5 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

“Hunger and poverty are real, as evidenced by the deafening grumbling of our families’ stomachs. And the government ought to listen to our plight, instead of priding itself to complacency with these data,” said Martinez.

She also hit National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)’s data showing a decrease in poverty incidence in 2018. Martinez pointed out that in that year; inflation rate is at record high at 6.7 percent, the highest in over nine years.
“For instance, NEDA cites that poverty incidence for the first half of 2018 decreased by 16.1 percent for Filipino families and 21 percent for individuals compared to three years prior. NEDA interestingly fails to mention that the latter part of 2018 saw a record high inflation rate,” she said.

She said, the Duterte government’s pronouncement that the country is on track in its campaign to end poverty is “at best far-fetched and at worst a gross and deliberate misrepresentation of the country’s economic situation.”

Martinez said Filipinos are living in worse condition under Duterte especially with the additional taxes caused by the implementation of Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Law (Train Law) which eroded the value of workers’ salaries.

“As hardworking Filipinos who struggle to support our families through honorable means, we deserve no less than wages and salaries that would afford us humane living conditions. We say enough of the Duterte government’s neglect of our plight,” the group said who will be once again on the streets on May 1. #

Sorsogon human rights workers under close surveillance by state operatives

By Bicol Today.com

SORSOGON CITY — Human rights workers here are alarmed over the periodic surveillance conducted by police and military operatives that pose serious threats to their lives.

On Sunday, April 21, 2019, at about 10:00 p.m. in the evening, human rights workers Ryan Hubilla, Elzie Aringgo, Rachelle Duave on-board a tricycle were going home from the office of KARAPATAN Sorsogon to their boarding house when they were followed by a gray pick-up vehicle with no plate number and a black motorcycle without a plate number with two men on-board riding in tandem with sling bags.

According to the human rights workers, they had noticed earlier the gray pick-up had been trailing them, and they had decided to pass the time at a store to discuss if they would go back to the office.

Before the incident, they had escorted  lawyer Atty. Bart Rayco in his visit to clients who are political prisoners at PNP Cabid-an.

The rights workers believed the surveillance incident is a clear and present danger to their work as human rights defenders, but such harassing acts would not cow them from fulfilling their avowed tasks. #

Karapatan poster.

OVERCOME CYBER-MARTIAL LAW

POOLED EDITORIAL

People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya)

12 March 2019

March 12 is World Day against Cyber Censorship, when advocates around the globe will call for an Internet that is not only accessible to all, but also free from restrictions on free speech. It is specially relevant to us today, when our nation is practically under cyber martial law and another tyranny.

The Duterte regime is using every means to silence dissent, criticism and free expression: from threats, incarceration to killings, to cyber warfare. The main target of this latest assault are the alternative media that mostly via online disseminate reports and views on events and issues that are rarely covered, if at all, by the dominant media. The goal is to deny a public hungry for information the reports and stories that it needs to understand what is happening in a country besieged by lies and disinformation.

The distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) against the websites of Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, Pinoy Weekly, and Altermidya began in December and have not stopped since. DDoS is a malicious form of cyber-attack that aims to overload a website and make it inaccessible.

The websites of Arkibong Bayan, Manila Today and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) have also been attacked, and so have the websites of human rights group Karapatan, Arkibong Bayan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and lately, Ibon Foundation.

Qurium, the Sweden-based media foundation assisting Bulatlat, Altermidya, Karapatan and Pinoy Weekly, has established that the same techniques and botnets are being used against these websites. An independent review of Kodao Productions’ traffic logs also revealed the same attack signatures.  Quirium noted that it has not seen the same scale of DDoS attacks in any other country.

The details of the attacks have been reported to the National Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. But the agency has remained alarmingly silent on the issue.

We have every reason to believe that these attacks are state-sponsored. In the past two years, cyber warfare has taken the form of vilification and redbaiting of progressive leaders and organizations through social media.

The Duterte administration identifies “strategic communication” as one of the pillars of its “whole of nation” approach against dissent and criticism, in which the regime’s counterinsurgency program will infiltrate and target social media and rid cyberspace of  “communist propaganda.”

The cyber attacks are part and parcel of the ongoing assault by the administration on the media. From threatening to revoke the franchises of big media companies to the attempt at the incarceration of Rappler executive Maria Ressa, to the killing of community journalists in the past months, the Duterte administration will stop at nothing to silence the Fourth Estate and its critics.

But Duterte and his keyboard and old-media army of mercenaries are hell-bent not only in silencing their perceived enemies, but also in expanding the echo chambers they maintain to create the illusion of continued support. On one hand, they attack news websites and journalists in all possible ways. On the other, they maintain a horde of fake supporters, employing what is known as “astroturfing” or the practice of creating the illusion of mass support by employing bots and trolls.

The alternative media have consistently upheld journalism for the people and given voice to the marginalized and the oppressed. Because of the political and economic interests of the corporate media, it is the alternative media that are discharging the democratic imperative of providing the information Filipinos need in this hour of national peril.  

We enjoin everyone from all walks of life to unite against, to expose, and to work together in stopping the attacks against all media. We should exhaust all means to make those responsible accountable for their foul deeds.  There are many technical and legal remedies that can and must be pursued to combat and halt the unabated DDoS attacks, including mirroring target websites to keep them online.

To defend press freedom is to defend the people’s right to know. As our fellow journalists and advocates continue to expose the truths on the attacks on indigenous communities, workers, farmers, and other groups, we ask all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand with us. Only through the strength and power of our unity can we defeat these brazen attempts at silencing protest and suppressing the truth.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2443783208966707&id=216155061729544

First Kalinga transport strike due to jeepney phaseout

By TMK
www.nordis.net

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — About 150 drivers, operators and commuters launched a protest action against the implementation of the jeepney phase out program by the current administration on July 9, 2018 here in the city center.

The first ever protest of the transport sector in the city commenced with a protest caravan of about 40 jeepneys from Bulanao in front of the Provincial Hospital towards the City hall in Dagupan, Tabuk city with MPT, streamers and calls to denounce the jeepney phase out of the present government administration which is an attack to their lives and livelihood.

Marching around the the city center, the protesters trooped to the Sangguniang Panlungsod Session hall to present before the city legislators their criticisms and position paper on the Jeepney modernization program through the Department Order No. 217-011 or the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines released by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) on June 19, 2017.

The said protest was organized and led by the Kalinga Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations (KaFeJODA) a newly formed federation of different small associations of public transport groups in the province. Whereas, the commuters especially from the basic sector- farmers welcomed the activity and mobilized themselves to participate in the protest action believing that in the end, it is them who will surely suffer the consequences and effect of this jeepney phase out.

The drivers, operators and commuters out rightly opposed the plan of the Duterte government to modernize the public transport wherein by the end of 2020 the current jeepney will be replaced by either solar a powered jeep, electronic jeeps and/or Euro IV engine jeeps.

“Dakami nga babassit nga jeepney operators ken drivers agraman maapektaran nga umili ditoy Kalinga ket saan mi a palubusan ti kayat ken panggep ti administrasyon ni Duterte nga i-modernize wenno sukatan dagiti pampubliko nga transportasyon. Kontra kami iti jeepney phase-out gapu ta dakami ti number 1 nga maapektaran. Patayen na ti pangkabiagan mi nga babbassit nga operators ken drivers,” the KaFeJODA statement read.

(We the small jeepney operators and drivers together with the affected people of Kalinga are not in favor on the plan of the Duterte administration to replace the public transportation vehicles, we are against the jeepney phase out because we wil be the first ones to be adversely affected. It will kill our source of livelihood.)

“First and foremost, we the small operators and drivers cannot afford these expensive jeeps they are trying to introduce ranging from eight hundred thousand up to 1.6 million pesos. Furthermore, these type of jeeps are not applicable here in the province considering the mountainous terrain,” the statement further read.

The operators and drivers belied the modernization program of the Duterte government and said, “instead, it is but another strategy of the capitalist corporations to monopolize and corporatize the public transportation system for their super profits.

They also claimed that this program is a disaster to their livelihood that would slump them to poverty. Through the fleet consolidation scheme of the PUV modernization, it will displace most of the current drivers/operators who are single operator units.

“Maawanan kami iti kontrol iti bukod mi a lugan ken prangkisa gapu ta maikonsentra kadagiti korporasyon ken babaknang nga isu da metlaeng ti makabael a makagatang iti minimum 15 units kadagitoy a lugan.” (“we no longer have control over our own jeeps and franchise since it will be concentrated to the corporation and rich businessmen who also are the only ones who can afford to buy a minimum of 15 units of these type of jeeps” the statement also read.

On the other hand, the city legislators welcomed and accommodated the protesters in their regular session. The protesters presented before the legislators their position paper asking the city councilors to support their plea via resolution to suspend the implementation of the Department of Transportation department order and the current transport system at status quo.

The legislators expressed that they cannot supersede any memorandum released from the national, however they assured to look into it and make an action to address the pressing issue. The city legislative body through the Committee on Transportation shall review and study the Department Order and Memorandum Circular No. 2018-008. The legislators also seconded the motion of Hon. Zoraida Wacnang to invite the KaFeJODA to sit during the review and study the said Department Order.

Meanwhile, the protesters felt dismayed upon their observation that the city councilors are obviously not so aware of the issue of the jeepney phase out. #nordis.net

Cagayan courts find political prisoner innocent

By NORWIN GONZALES
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY– After over a year in jail, David Soriano who was facing trumped up charges was declared not guilty of arson.

Soriano was declared not guilty in a May 10 decision penned by Judge Nicanor Pascual, Jr. presiding judge of Branch 8 of the Regional Trial Court in Aparri, Cagayan.

Soriano was charged with arson related to the burning of equipment belonging to BrosTan Construction in Gattaran, Cagayan on February 14, 2016.

Pascual questioned whether Soriano was in Gattaran at the time the crime was committed and whether he was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and served as its commander. Pascual ruled in favor of Soriano, citing that the prosecution failed to show evidence for its claims.

“Likewise, the prosecution failed to at least present any photograph of the equipment allegedly burned by the accused or at least his alleged companions if indeed, said equipment was burned. It was only bare allegations without any documentary or object evidence to support the same,” the court ruling said.

He was also charged with two counts of attempted murder for an ambush also in Gattaran, Cagayan, this time in RTC Branch 9. Pascual also dismissed the case for lack of evidence in a March 15 ruling.

However, freedom is yet to come for Soriano as he is still currently being tried at the RTC Branch 10 in Tuguegarao City, this time for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives related to his arrest in May 2017 in Peñablanca. Cagayan.

He was also implicated in an ambush against Philippine National Police elements in Baggao, Cagayan on February 16, 2016.

In his affidavit, Soriano said that he was in Baguio City from February 12 to 14, 2016 attending a North Luzon summit and traveled back to Isabela on February 15, 2016.

“Let us continue to call for the release of all political prisoners amidst the tyranny of the US-Duterte regime,” Karapatan-Cagayan Valley in a statement said.# nordis.net

AGAW WEN Episode 3 – ENDO

Panoorin ang ikatlong nakakamatay na episode ni Agaw Wen sa kaniyang pagtalakay sa infinite war ng milyun-milyong manggagawa laban sa Endo. Video ng Kilab Multimedia.

 

I-click ito para mapanood si ‘Gaw Wen

Duterte sells Chico River to China

By RENDILYN CUYOP


BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) called P3.135-billion (US $62.09 million) loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (PIP) that President Rodrigo Duterte secured from the Chinese government last April 10 during his recent visit to China “the latest sell out” of the country’s resources and ancestral lands to foreign investors.

In a press statement, CPA Spokesperson Bestang Dekdeken said the Chico River PIP is part of the Duterte administration’s “build build build” program.

It can be recalled that last March the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) have secured a P4.3B contract with China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd for the Chico River PIP. According to the Department of Finance, the interest rate on the US Dollar denominated loan is 2% per annum with a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period.

The project seeks to create canals diverting the water from the Chico River into different areas in Tuao and Piat Cagayan and Pinukpuk in Kalinga.

Dekdeken said allowing foreign investors in the implementation of projects like the Chico River PIP will result to the privatization of agricultural services. “This is one of the regime’s means to fast-track the entry of foreign corporations to make profit from our deprivation while exploiting our natural resources,” she said.

Dekdeken pointed out that the Bontoc and Kalinga peoples foiled the Chico River dams project with irrigation component of the late Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She added that the PIP and the hydropower projects along the Chico River and its tributaries will be met with opposition because corporate and destructive projects go againsts the interest of the people.

She said that what the people of Kalinga and other farmers whose fields are being irrigated by the Chico River has been free and appropriate irrigation systems that do not take over ancestral lands and directly benefit the people.

“Duterte is deaf to these calls and is instead focused in amassing all political power in the government to make it possible for him to carry-out plans based on his selfish interests and those he kowtows to,” she said.

Dekdeken urged the people to intensify their fight for the respect and recognition of their rights to their ancestral land and to self-determination.

“We shall let the nation witness once again a successful defense of the Chico River to let the river flow free, and as the fire of our dissent engulfs a tyrant’s aspiration for absolute power. Never will we let it be recorded in history that a fascist ruler has crushed the peoples movement with tyranny,” she said.

The annual Cordillera Day celebration every April 24 to commemorate the death of Macliing Dulag who was killed by government forces in 1980 traces its roots to the Cordillera peoples’ defense of the Chico River. Dulag was a Kalinga elder who led his people against the Chico dams project.

This year’s Cordillera Day will be held at the Pacday Quino Elementary School in Barangay Asin Road on April 22-25, will tackle the different issues currently affecting Cordillera indigenous peoples, including the tyranny of the Duterte regime and the continued development aggression in our ancestral lands. # nordis.net

Compressed Work Week Bill: Pasado o Palyado?

Kasalukuyang dinidinig pa rin sa Senado ang bill hinggil sa “compressed work week”, isang iskema ng pleksibleng paggawa.

Anila, pabor daw ito sa mga manggagawa dahil mas magiging produktibo kung mas mahaba ang oras ng paggawa kada araw. Dapat ba silang sumang-ayon dito? Ano ba ang epekto nito sa kanilang sahod at kalusugan?

Isa ito sa mga isyu ng manggagawa sa papalapit na Mayo Uno.

Panoorin ang bidyo ng MayDay Multimedia:

 

AGAW WEN Episode 2: TRAIN to Bankerohan Market

by Kilab Multimedia

Panoorin ang spectacular na pagdiskubre ni Agaw kung bakit mas matamis pa ang asin kaysa asukal.

Read more

Groups deny benefits from coal plants

By SHERWIN DE VERA
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Environmental groups in Ilocos rebuked the claims of economic benefits by coal-fired power plant proponents. The Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) and Save Sual Movement (SSM), in a separate statement, argued that health and environmental cost out weights the promise of jobs and royalties from the coal-fired plants.

Two companies are set to build to coal-fired power plant in the region. The P80-Billion 670 megawatt twin-plant of Global Luzon Energy Development Corporation (GLEDC) in Luna, La Union and the P47-Billion 1,000 MW plant of South Korean energy giant Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

Both organizations believe that residents, and the neighboring towns will be at the losing end of these projects.

Temporary benefits

Rosanna Marie Soriano, president of SSM said that KEPCO only presented “half truth” about its projects impact when it announced that it will create 5000 jobs during construction and collect about P800 million in real-property tax annually.

Her group explained that while the construction of the plant will require a considerable number of labor force, it will eventually “trim down to a few hundred skilled worker and office personnel.”

The same tactic was utilized by GLEDC and Mayor Vic Marron of Luna town. They flaunted to the media and the public the need for at least 3,000 workers and the P500-million in real property tax if the project proceeds.

For Defend Ilocos, its just routine for companies investing in coal-fired plants “to highlight the economic benefits” and “use of emission-reducing technology” but in the long term operation “this will entail heavier environmental and social cost.” The environmental network said that the plant which GLEDC and KEPCO intend to build are for big businesses and not for the local residents.

Mayor Roberto Arcinue explained that the Pangaisnan, the municipality of Sual and Barangay Baquioen will be share the revenue with each receiving 35%, 40% 25% respectively.

He also claimed in the past that revenue from the existing plant made Sual into a first class municipality. The town is the location of the 1,200 MW coal-fired plant, the country’s biggest in the country, operated by Team Energy. It started providing service in 1999 and full power capacity was delivered in 2007.

However, revenue seems to play a minimal role in the overall poverty situation in the area. In 2012, Sual ranked 8th among the municipalities generating locally sourced revenues. But she was also identified by the Provincial Poverty Reduction Action Team as one of the 10 municipalities with the highest poverty incidence.

Hazardous

GLEDC and KEPCO have boasted that their plant will run with the latest technology. Both local governments of Sual and Luna also claimed that the plants will be “environmentally-friendly.”

However, the groups are not convinced.

Defend Ilocos explained that “decades of utilizing coal for power generation across the globe have proven its detrimental impacts to our health and environment.” The group also pointed that “low-emission coal power facilities fail to address the overall impact of the coal industry from extraction, transport, stockpiling and waste disposal.”

It added that countries touted to have the most efficient coal fleet like Japan, China, and the United States failed to curbed the environmental and health issues associated with coal and coal-fired plants.

Soriano’s group, in its statement, mentioned a study by Dr. Romeo Quino of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in KEPCO’s 200 MW coal-powered energy facility in Naga, Cebu. The doctor was able to identify heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and arcenic in high concentrations from coal ash samples taken from the area. Residents in the place complained of of air, water and land pollution prompting even the Asian Development Bank, who funded the project to admit the said problems.

“Humihingi kami noon ng report mula sa LGU at sa planta kaugnay sa epekto nito sa environment pero wala naman silang ibinigay sa amin,” Soriano said. To bolster their proof, SMM will undertake water and air testing on March 31 to April 2 in the vicinity of the existing plant.

An independent consultant and researcher, Dr. Freddie Obligacion, in his published study in 2015 of 410 households from four major coal-powered plants found that “major coal-fueled plants in the country have adversely impacted our fellow citizens’ environment, health, livelihood, and life satisfaction.”

Health was the major impact area cited in the study. According to the document, fewer illness were experienced by the residents prior to the operation of the facilities. However, after the plants started operation, reports of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, skin allergies, infections, headaches and diarrhea became common. Of the respondents who encountered these diseases, 69% attributed it to the presence of the coal-fired power plant in their community.

No direct consumption

“Wala namang isang bahay dito na directly sa coal plant kumukuha ng kuryente, huwag niya (Arcinue) sabihin na kami ang pangunahing nakikinabang dahil dumadaan naman ito sa grid, its not only the coal plant that supplies the energy we use. Maganda sana kung diretly at libre ang kuryente pero hindi naman. Binabayaran nga namin yan. Kapag tumataas ang kuryente ay tumataas din ang sa amin kahit pa nandito ang biggest coal plant,” explianed Soriano.

The statement was her reaction to Arcinue’s foolish call to for SMM members to “refrain from using electricity produced by the power plant” to prove their sincerity in opposing KEPCO’s facility.

In 2015, Pangasinan was reported to having the highest electricity rate in Region 1 with a price tag of P17.7595 per kwh.

Harassments

Soriano said that her group are experiencing harassment from the local chief executive. While she claims to have not experience direct attacks, her family and colleagues are being singled-out.

“Yung mga kasamahan ko ang nakakaranas, lalo na yung mga nasa wharf area. Palaging sumusulat ang iba’t ibang office ng munisipyo, ang MENRO, Engineering Office at sinasabing dapat umalis sila. Pero ang pinapaalis lamang ay yung mga sumasapi sa amin samaantalang mga allies nila ay hindi naman pinapaalis,” the SSM leader narrated.

She added that even her family are threatened through their businesses.

“Marami siyang (Arcinue) sinisita na kung ano-anong violations namin, na we are not in compliance of somethings, gaya ng building code,” she said.

Like Soriano and her group, members of Defend Ilocos also experience harassment. The group said that its network TIMEK La Union, a fisherfolk organization that is opposing the construction the coal-fired plant in Luna are being monitored by the local police.

“In November 2017, PNP personnel went looking for TIMEK officers and members in Agoo and Bauang, and told the barangay officials that it is a front organization of the New People’s army,” stated the group in its year-end report.

Clean development

“Everybody desires progress, but let us have it in the proper, clean, safe and sustainable way… not with coal that will endanger our lives, our family and the future generations of Sual,” noted SMM in its statement.

Defend Ilocos on the other hand is pushing for the prioritization of “ industrial and service sector investments with less ecological impacts” to create jobs. The group also said that local governtments are “better off promoting rural development by pursuing genuine agrarian reform to strengthen agriculture and the fishery sector.” # nordis.net