Public sector workers protest over pay hike

Declaring a “Black Heart’s Day,” public sector workers trooped to Mendiola leading to Malacanang Palace in Manila to denounce Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Budget Sec. Florencio Abad for the Salary Standardization Law 4 (SSL 4) discriminating pay and benefits for the country’s 1.5 million government workers. Similar actions were held in Baguio, Angeles, Naga, Legazpi, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and other cities in the Philippines.

COMMENTARY: Duterteconomics doesn’t share labor’s ideology

by Raymund B. Villanueva

DAVAO CITY MAYOR Rodrigo Duterte launched his bid for the presidency last Tuesday in Tondo with a threat against militant labor. Singling Kilusang Mayo Uno out, he said he will kill all those who would organize labor unions in economic enclaves he plans on putting up. There should be no labor unions in these enclaves for 10 years or there would be a decade of carnage, he said.

He was obviously referring to something similar to Davao City’s bloodbath against perceived criminals, mostly petty offenders. Laughter could be heard in the videos when Duterte uttered his threat. There was nothing funny in it at all. It was beyond outrageous; it was ominous.

What gall the mayor has to think he shares militant labor’s ideology when he asks them to stop defending workers’ rights. Labor unions protect workers from low wages, unpaid benefits, unjust working conditions and other forms of exploitation. Only an unthinking and unfeeling person could dismiss unionism’s contributions to humanity by threatening them with bloody death, even jestingly (which the video proves was not).

Capitalism, proletarian ideology’s antithesis, is, above all else, exploitation of workers. Special economic zones were invented to worsen this exploitation.

According to the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, the Philippines has 326 special economic zones as of May 2015, 68 of which are manufacturing enclaves. While these numbers look impressive Duterte should know that these only employed 735,000 in 2010, or a mere two percent of the country’s employed labor. Current SEZ employment figures remain essentially unchanged.

At the Subic SEZ, Korean giant Hanjin has more than 20,000 workers building giant ships. All of them are contractual employees engaged through a number of contractors. EILER reports that Filipino workers are verbally and physically abused by their Korean bosses on a daily basis and are often served with stale meals. Many accidents occur in this enclave, often deadly, without making the news. Media and even local government officials are barred from entering the shipyard. Shouldn’t Duterte promise to look into such reports first before foisting the specter of more special economic zones at Filipino laborers?

Duterte may be charming to some, but I seriously doubt his brand of charm would be able to reverse the general decline of direct foreign investments into Philippine manufacturing. There is no need for more SEZs when the government is still desperate to fill up those already existing. What few foreign investments that trickle into the local economy go to the stock market and real estate industry, which are part of the speculative market. The doddering global capitalism rolls this way nowadays. It is absolutely unnecessary to threaten militant labor with mayhem when his SEZs are still figments of his bloody imagination.

Moreover, Duterte is being redundant when he threatens militant labor with bloodshed. Economic zones have an unwritten “no union, no strike” policy. SEZ security forces are especially trained to quell any union activity. There is very little government oversight in these special zones, except when there is labor unrest. In such cases, the government always sides with the capitalists anyway. All too often, labor leaders and union members end up killed. Is this what Duterteconomics wants continued?

KMU was quick to criticize Duterte’s statement, as it should. KMU asked if Duterte was joking. The labor center said Duterte made a big joke of himself and should take back his words. It also asked the candidate to stand with labor unions and not with greedy capitalists. I share KMU’s wonder what kind of “respectful” labor unions Duterte wants.

Duterte must think that KMU will not dare criticize his statement because he helped in some labor disputes in Davao City in the past. He clearly showed his capacity to violate labor and other human rights when he could utter threats just like that. Such statements and his kind must never be tolerated, alliances notwithstanding.

Lastly, Duterte’s supporters should know it was the dictator Marcos who first put up SEZs in this country via the Bataan Special Economic Zone in 1969. Ominous, isn’t it? #

Heneral Luna matters

Commemorating the Philippine-American War on February 4, 2016, protesters against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) marched to the US embassy in Manila carrying cut-outs of Heneral Luna as portrayed in a much-acclaimed historical film. The groups are affiliated with the Philippines chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN).

LARAWAN: Junk Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)










US Embassy, Manila

February 4, 2016


Ka Bel’s 83rd remembered; 2016 bets dared

Workers and government officials commemorated late labor movement icon and progressive legislator Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran’s 83rd birth anniversary at Plaza Miranda in Manila on January 7, 2016. ILPS Philippines Chair Elmer Labog led the ceremonies supported by the City of Manila represented by Ms. Flordeliza Villaseñor. In his speech, Labog challenged 2016 national and local elections candidates to emulate genuine and pro-people leadership that Beltran exemplified all his life.

Ka Bel served as chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS). He was KMU’s longest-serving leader and was cited as one of the country’s best legislators several times.

(Overlapping audio is from the Quiapo Church service across the plaza.)

Human rights raps in the Philippines

Human Rights Day 2015 in the Philippines with street protests on violations under a neocolonial regime. Speakers include torture victim Fr. Ben Alforque and KARAPATAN secretary-general Tinay Palabay. The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) also demanded the release of Palestinian leader Khalida Jarrar and all political prisoners.

This is not Bonifacio High Street

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) Philippines chapter takes part in commemorating Bonifacio Day 2015 in the streets of Manila amid jeepneys, SUVs and dilapidated buildings. This is not Bonifacio High Street of the high-end botique districts of global cities but a protest march of wage-workers, private and public, saying “there can be no development without independence”.

BAYAN to Pnoy: Hands Off Activists and Human Rights Defenders

Press Statement
July 18, 2015

The increased and widespread harassment and intimidation of government critics and oppositionists in the run-up to Pres. Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) later this month is a dangerous sign that the Aquino government is adopting the tactics of notorious human rights violator Jovito Palparan – with the blessings of the Arroyo administration – in trying to quell anti-government protests.

Within the past three weeks, BAYAN has received alarming reports of soldiers, police and other state agents hounding union leaders and community organizers, human rights defenders and social activists, as well as progressive professionals, in their homes, workplaces and even in public, such as restaurants and on the street. They tell their targets that their activities are being monitored or that they are already identified as members of the CPP/NPA. They make veiled threats of something bad happening if their targets do not stop their social involvements. Invariably, these state agents leave a name and number to contact if and when their targets are ready to “cooperate”.

The victims of this latest spate of harassment and intimidation come from as far south as General Santos City to as far north as Cagayan Valley. Particularly targeted are activists and leaders in BAYAN-affiliated public sector unions, trade unions, youth and student groups, health workers and professionals, urban poor communities and progressive party list groups.

Even church workers and human rights defenders are not spared, like 15 colleagues in SocSarGen and Davao who were recently slapped with trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for helping Ata Manobo and Balaan communities flee their militarized areas.

Clearly the objective of this intense harassment from state agents is to intimidate their victims into silence and inaction at a time when Aquino is salvaging whatever is left of his supposed “tuwid-na-daan” legacy, desperately looking for people to drag on his bumpy, crooked path to nowhere.

This is exactly the same kind of vilification and harassment tactics that then Gen. Palparan utilized wherever he was assigned, along with a spike in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of people suspected to be CPP/NPA leaders, members and even just sympathizers.

Pres. Aquino and his military and police forces are so desperate to silence his critics and derail the nationwide SONA protests that they have decided to do a Palparan.

Worse, the recent appointment of generals in the Palparan mold, with bloody human rights track records to their name, to head the AFP and the Philippine Army bodes a renewed spate of illegal arrests, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

BAYAN and the Filipino people will not be cowed by this latest fascist rampage under the counterinsurgency program, OPLAN Bayanihan of the Aquino regime. The upcoming SONA protests will be the biggest and most damning ever. We shall continue speaking out against the evils of the current regime presiding over a rotten, dying system and empower our people to struggle for a new and better government and society.###

Big rally set for Aquino’s final SONA

Various groups and critics of the regime are preparing to mount another big rally on the sixth and final State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III on July 27. Carrying different issues and grievances, this year’s SONA rally will sum-up the more than five years of the Aquino regime.

“For Aquino, the SONA will be his way of trumpeting his so-called achievements to justify the continuation of the already discredited daang matuwid. It will be his last time to use the annual platform in an attempt to fool the public. For the people, Aquino’s final SONA is an event to raise the most pressing issues and hold the regime accountable,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The President now seems to be more concerned with maneuvering for 2016 than in addressing the problems of the people. Aquino wants the people to forget his many crimes of corruption, puppetry, human rights violations, and all-around neglect of the poor. Aquino is busy finding ways for his party’s presidential bet to win in 2016 and thus protect him from prosecution when his term expires. For example, what kind of a president calls for a meeting on politics and 2016 in the middle of a storm?” Reyes added.

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LARAWAN: No to US-Japan Military Alliance











The United States and Japan are using the Philippine dispute with China to justify increased US intervention and the rise of Japanese militarism in the region.

The Filipino people should be wary because the ongoing military exercises between the US, Japan and the Philippines are nothing a ploy to project US military power in the region as part of its pivot to Asia. The US is merely exploiting the PH dispute with China by presenting a false “united front” against China.

The naval exercises are meant to promote US and Japan imperialist interests in the region. These two powers do not care for Philippine sovereignty nor territorial integrity.

The situation of the Philippines and Japan with respect to territorial and maritime claims vs China are quite different. Japan’s claims to Diaoyu islands are questionable because the islands were annexed by Japan as war booty in the aftermath of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. The islands should rightfully be returned to China in the same way Japan returned other annexed territories after World War 2. Japan refuses to do so and is supported in its claim by the United States.

Meanwhile, the Philippine claims to the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, Mischief Reef and other islands are lawful. The Philippines sovereign right to its exclusive economic zone are also lawful. Unlike Japan, the Philippine does not enjoy the support of the US in these claims. The US only feigns support so that it could justify the return of US bases and increase the number of stationed troops in the Philippines.

As a US treaty partner, Japan is part of the US military umbrella in the region. It wishes to assert its military might outside its borders but only as a junior partner of the US. The Abe regime, despite broad opposition from the Japanese people, now wishes to change provisions of its Peace Constitution to allow Japan to more actively join the US in imposing its military might in Asia and other parts of the world.

The Philippines must reject US intervention and rising Japan militarism. Neither are out to serve our national interest. The naval exercises themselves do very little to develop our own capability for external defense. We’ve had so many with the United States yet our armed forces remain undeveloped. The avowed goal of interoperability is a sham considering the backwardness of our own Navy when compared to the US and Japan. All things considered, we are merely being used by big powers for their own geopolitical interest.

To counter China, the Philippines must develop its own economy and defense capability, independent of the dictates of the United States, Japan or any other imperialist power. Our continued dependence on these big powers is what undermines are capacity to defend our sovereignty against the incursions of China. ###

Press Statement
June 23, 2015