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Ayuda urgent: Jobs crisis still worse than before pandemic — IBON

Government claims of the employment situation improving in February 2021 compared to pre-pandemic January 2020 are unfounded, research group IBON said.

The so-called increase in employment is just Filipinos desperate to make a living in any way they can. This makes the need for substantial cash aid even more urgent, the group said.

The economic managers repeatedly claim that “we have surpassed our pre-pandemic employment level of 42.6 million in January 2020,” such as when the February 2021 labor force survey (LFS) results were released.

IBON said the LFS figures, however, clearly show that the jobs crisis existing even before the pandemic has only gotten worse upon the longest and harshest lockdowns in Southeast Asia.

Reported employment increased by 610,000, from 42.5 million in January 2020 to 43.2 million in February 2021. But this was far from enough for the labor force which grew by 2.4 million over that same period to 47.3 million, said the group, resulting in even greater unemployment.

IBON also noted that there are 12 million combined unemployed (4.2 million) and underemployed (7.9 million) Filipinos as of February 2021, which is much more than the 8.7 million in January 2020 (i.e. 2.4 million unemployed and 6.3 million underemployed).

The 1.8 million increase in unemployment in itself already indicates collapsing household incomes for millions of Filipino families, said the group.

Photo by R. Villanueva/Kodao

The marginal increase in employment should not be seen as a sign of any improvement because it masks a serious deterioration in the quality of work in the country, IBON said. Even less than before, so-called employment is not enough to give Filipino families the regular and secure incomes they need to survive.

By class of workers, the number of wage and salary workers fell by over 1 million and of employers in family farms and businesses by 72,000 from widespread lockdown-driven business closures and retrenchments. These are down to 26.7 million and 930,000, respectively.

IBON noted that jobless Filipinos were apparently driven to “self-employment” which bloated by 1.4 million and to being “unpaid family workers” which rose by 356,000. These increased to 12.5 million and 3 million, respectively.

By hours worked, the number of full-time workers fell by 2.9 million to 25.9 million. Those working only part-time however increased by 3.2 million to 16.6 million, and those “with a job, not at work” by 325,000 to 657,000.

IBON stressed that tens of millions of Filipinos are going hungry, most of all from not having the money to buy food especially from the lack of work.

The Php10,000 emergency cash assistance being demanded is all the more urgent to immediately alleviate hunger. The inflation-adjusted official food threshold as of March 2021 for a family of five is Php2,133 per week in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Php1,905 per week on average for the Philippines.

The latest Php1,000 token cash aid is glaringly not even enough for food expenses, considering even that official food thresholds are ridiculously low to begin with, IBON said.

At the same time, a large fiscal stimulus is critical to arrest economic scarring, jump-start the economy, and genuinely improve employment on a wider scale, said the group. #

A million Covid cases

Cartoon by Crisby Delgado, PUP/Kodao

Despite having one of the longest and harshest lock downs in the world, the Philippines breached one million Covid cases on Monday, April 26. This means the most number of new cases per and the most number of new deaths per million people in South East Asia. The Philippines also has the second worst number of fully vaccinated people by share of the population in the region. #

‘It is patriotic duty of every Filipino to fight for our territorial integrity, sovereignty and national patrimony’

“It is patriotic duty of every Filipino to fight for our territorial integrity, sovereignty and national patrimony. The Filipinos’ collective struggle should aim to wrest back sovereign control of the West Philippine Sea and the marine resources within the country’s exclusive economic zone.”Pedro “Tata Pido” Gonzales, Vice Chairman Emeritus
Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas

‘Naging sobrang mapagbigay ang pamahalaan sa Tsina dahil sa mga pangako nito’

“Humantong po tayo sa ganitong kalagayan dahil sa kapabayaan ng mga nakaraang taon sa ating mga karapatan at hurisdiskyon sa Kanlurang Karagatang Pilipino. Naging sobrang mapagbigay ang pamahalaan sa Tsina dahil sa mga pangako nito na pera at imprastraktura na napako lamang at halos wala namang katotohanan, ngayon naman ay bakuna ang kapalit ng ating katahimikan.”Atty. Jay Batongbacal, Director, UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea

Habang sila ay nagsasalo-salo

Ni George Tumaob Calaor

May salo-salo sa gusali ng pangulo

may litson may birthday candle pang ibino-blow…

habang sa kabiserang banda ng bansang Pilipino

nagkukumahog sa pangamba ang mga tao…

muling ipapatupad ang ECQ

nang walang karampatang pag-aaviso…

tiyak maraming sikmura ang sa gutom ay mangungulo!

Ina…

may sanggol kang mangungulit ng gatas sa iyo…

Ama…

may asawa’t mga anak kang umaantabay sa pasalubong mo…

Mag-aaral…

malinaw pa ba ang iyong paningin

sa mga aralin sa online class mo—

may load pa ba ang internet mo—

mababasa mo pa ba ang modyul mo?

Manggagawa…

sapat pa ba ang kinikita mo—

kumusta na ang trabaho?

Magsasaka…

berding uhay ng ginintuang butil pa ba

ang kumakaway sa palayan mo?

May salo-salo sa gusali ng pangulo

may litson birthday candle nito’y ibino-blow…

sa Canlubang, Laguna

ang Pangalawang Pangulo

ng PAMANTIK-KMU…

pinagbabaril

at sa tinamo

ng tamang walo!…

marahas na binawian

ng buhay ito!

#DutertePalpak

#OUSTDUTERTENOW

BAYAN, ipinaliwanag ang #DutertePalpak sa pandemya

Ipinaliwanag ni Renato Reyes, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), ang aniya’y maraming kapalpakan ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte sa isang taong pagharap ng bansa sa pandemyang coronavirus. Sa harap ng Commission on Human Rights sa Quezon City noong Marso 17, 2021, inilahad ni Reyes ang kawalan ng maayos na sistema sa pagharap sa pandemya na nagdulot ng isang taong nagdurusa ng mamamayan sa mga hakbangin ng pamahalaan. Kabilang dito ang matinding pagbagsak ng ekonomiya, malawakang pagkawala ng trabaho, walang sapat na ayuda sa mga maralita, at patuloy pagdami ng nagkakasakit ng COVID – 19.

Philippines’ ‘Paradis Island’ has a message for ‘Attack on Titan’ fans

‘We have nothing to do with Titans’

By Mong Palatino / Global Voices

Paradis Island PH is a vacation resort in the Philippines and it has no connection with the Paradis Island in the popular manga and anime series “Attack on Titan” (進撃の巨人). To make that clear, Paradis Island PH created a Facebook post assuring readers and potential visitors that there were no “titans” at the resort—and the tongue-in-cheek post quickly went viral.

The island resort is in Lake Lumot, Cavinti, located in Laguna province, south of the capital region of Metro Manila. It offers recreational activities for those who want to rent the villas on the “eco-friendly and unspoiled” private island.

Meanwhile, the Paradis Island of “Attack on Titan” is where the Eldian people have relocated and built gigantic walls as protection against giants, the “titans.” The original Japanese manga series is written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama, and the animated version of the series is currently wildly popular around the world.

This year marks the final season of the series and this probably led more people to look for information about the manga, including the setting of the story on “Paradis Island.”

Paradis Island PH acknowledged the coincidence of sharing a name with an island in a popular manga and used this to post a light-hearted disclaimer on Facebook:

Disclaimer: News is spreading online that the Founding Titan is in Paradis Island PH and that we are hiding it. For those who do not know, the Founding Titan is already with Eren Yeager, including the Attack Titan and War Hammer Titan.

We are an innocent island in a lake in Laguna and we have nothing to do with Titans. You can book events with us during the summer, we assure you that your stay will be fun and enjoyable (and no Titans will disturb you)

The Philippines’ Paradis Island. Not to be confused with Attack on Titan’s ‘Paradis Island’. Screenshot of Google Map

This post became popular and was widely shared by netizens especially those who know the manga and anime series. A local news website also published a story about the viral social media disclaimer.

Another Facebook post by the resort has also gained popularity. It refers to the soundtrack of the anime which features the Japanese word sasageyo (捧げよ, calling upon another to sacrifice oneself in battle).

Reminder to fellow citizens:

We recently learned that many are inquiring and interested to visit the lake and Paradis. We are begging you, refrain from being noisy and don’t shout “SASAGEYO SASAGEYO” if you are in the lake. It is scaring our guests and caretakers. If this persists, we will have no choice and be forced to build walls on Paradis Island.

We expect more hilarious social media updates from Paradis Island PH alluding to “Attack on Titan” especially as the series will continue to publish and air more episodes until April. #

= = = = = =

Kodao publishes Global Voices articles as part of a content-sharing agreement.

52nd anniversary celebrations to be held today despite attacks—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it will celebrate its 52nd founding anniversary today despite all-out attacks by government troopers.

In a Christmas day statement, CPP public information officer Marco Valbuena said “simple but joyous activities” will be held today in both rural and urban areas throughout the country.

“These activities are going to be held clandestinely to evade suppression by the fascist enemy’s military and police forces,” Valbuena said.

He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) continue to attack peasant communities even during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

“The AFP has, so far, failed to detect and prevent the gatherings and assemblies which have already been held in some revolutionary areas… In some villages, the masses and local NPA units were able to mount their gatherings right under the nose of the AFP,” Valbuena added.

He said that more activities will also be held in the coming days.

Last December 16, the CPP Central Committee urged party members to celebrate their 52nd anniversary “with secret meetings and assemblies to mark the event wherever and whenever possible.”

The CPP also did not declare a holiday truce with the government following the December 7 announcement by Rodrigo Duterte that he will never again issue a ceasefire order with the CPP and its forces as long as he is president.

Duterte said, “There will be no ceasefire ever again under my term…For all intents and purposes, that ceasefire is dead. That’s gone. That has been long gone.”

(CPP image)

‘Fight against terror and evil’

The CPP said its celebrations this year shall focus on looking back in the past year, taking stock of the current situation and paying tribute to the heroes and martyrs of the Philippine revolution.

The celebrations shall also “affirm the commitment and determination to serve the people and fight to end the reign of terror and evil of the tyrannical US-Duterte regime.”

“Some of these meetings and gatherings double as education seminars to discuss the Party’s views about the current international and national situation,” the party’s statement added.

In the cities, the CPP said its revolutionary forces are also set to hold clandestine gatherings and assemblies among Party members and the revolutionary masses in their communities and homes.

“As in the rural areas, they can employ various creative methods to avoid enemy detection,” it said.

It also reminded its members it is not far-fetched for Duterte’s anti-communist National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Coflict to carry out another clampdown against the legal democratic forces in the government’s desperation to drown the joyous and militant spirit of the Party’s anniversary celebrations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UN urges Duterte gov’t to investigate, prosecute rights abusers anew

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) again urged the Rodrigo Duterte government  to conduct “independent, full, and transparent” investigations to ensure accountability for rights violations and abuses in the Philippines.

In a resolution Wednesday (Philippine time), the UNHRC also condemned all “acts of intimidation and reprisal, both online and offline” against human rights groups and other critics.”

In its 45th General Session from September 14 to October 7, the Council took note of the scathing report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) last June 4 detailing the Duterte government’s heavy-handed focus on countering national security threats and illegal drugs that has resulted in serious human rights violations, including killings and arbitrary detentions, as well as the vilification of dissent.

[READ: UNITED NATIONS: Rights violations widespread and persistent under Duterte gov’t]

The new resolution recommended that OHCHR and Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet assist the Philippines in its “fulfillment of its international human rights obligations and commitments” through:

  • technical assistance and capacity-building for domestic investigative and accountability measures
  • data gathering on alleged police violations, engagement with civil society
  • national mechanism for reporting and follow-up
  • counter-terrorism legislation
  • and human rights-based approaches to drug control.

The resolution was sponsored by the Philippine government itself, along with fellow member-States India and Nepal, as well as non-members Hungary, Thailand, Turkey and Iceland.

‘Human rights crisis’

A human rights alliance said the latest UNHRC resolution indicates that the international community has acknowledged the human rights crisis in the Philippines and persists in its scrutiny of the Duterte government.

The Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) said the resolution is proof that the Duterte administration, despite its belligerent stance and statements in past HRC sessions, has also started to acknowledge “domestic and international pressure for justice and accountability” for its reported human rights violations.

“The resolution comes after the damning report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the persistent and widespread killings and human rights violations in the Philippines, the numerous statements of UN Special Procedures expressing concern on the situation, the European Parliament resolution calling on the European Commission to initiate the temporary withdrawal of trade perks of the Philippines in the light of the serious rights violations, and the proposed measure at the US Congress to end military and police aid to the Philippine government,” EcuVoice said in a statement.

EcuVoice led the filing of dozens of reports of human rights violations by the Duterte government at the HRC’s 43rd General Session in Geneva, Switzerland last February and March that became part of Bachelet’s report recommending investigations to be conducted in the Philippines.

Human rights group Karapatan said the new resolution is “a sign that the international community remains committed in closely monitoring the situation of human rights in the country.”

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, however, expressed disappointment that the new resolution “looks over the urgent demands of victims, their families and communities” for in-country probes.

 “[I]t (the resolution) falls short of a decisive and adequate response to the worsening human rights crisis in the country — and we strongly believe that technical cooperation and capacity-building activities would not stop the administration’s human rights violations,” Palabay said.

Karapatan challenged the Duterte government to allow access to UN investigators if it has nothing to hide in line with Bachelet’s original recommendation.

It also urged governments, parliaments, civil society groups, and international non-governmental organizations to conduct independent investigations to validate the real human rights situation in the Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte now a known dictator with EU Parliament vote, rights group says

President Rodrigo Duterte is now known as a dictator by the international community after the European Parliament passed a resolution last September 17 condemning widespread human rights violations in the Philippines, an international rights group said.

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) said Duterte has become a globally notorious dictator whose four-year reign has greatly surpassed the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the number of civilians killed by his government.

“With the strong resolution from the EU Parliament, the Duterte government has now gained notoriety as a world-known human rights violator, if not, a dictator following the likes of Ferdinand Marcos,” ICHRP said in a statement.

More than 3,000 were killed, 34,000 were tortured, 70,000 were imprisoned and billions of public funds were stolen by the Marcos regime.

Duterte’s long list of violations

The European Parliament said at least 8,663 people had been killed by the Philippine National Police through a “widespread and systematic” anti-drug campaign by the Duterte government.

The resolution said that Duterte himself explicitly encouraged the police to commit extrajudicial execution and promised them immunity and promotions.

Majority of the victims were from poor and marginalized communities, the measure added, quoting a June 2020 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The resolution also listed the following human rights violations committed by the government:

-threats, harassment, intimidation and violence against human rights defenders, journalists and activists, equating their advocacy with insurgency;

-conviction of Rappler’s Maria Resa and Reynaldo Santos for cyberlibel and the denial of the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise;

-imprisonment of Senator Leila de Lima;

-killing of at least 43 land rights defenders;

-criminalization and attacks against indigenous human rights defenders;

-killing of human rights defender Zara Alvarez and peace advocate Randall Echanis;

-assassination of at least 16 journalists and a pattern of intimidation of independent news sources;

-Duterte’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court;

-Congress’ approval of the death penalty measure and adoption of a new anti-terrorism law;

-Duterte’s repeated sexist and misogynistic speech and behavior;

-endangerment of workers’ rights advocates;

-Duterte’s repeated reference to political opponents’ sexual orientation as a smear against them and implying that homosexuality is a disease;

-victimization of up to 100,000 children in prostitution rings and child labor; and

-government’s failure to curb corruption.

The European Parliament resolution said it proactively supports the adoption of a resolution at the ongoing 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish an international investigation into human rights violations committed under the Duterte government.

The measure also recommended to the European Union (EU) to temporarily withdraw the Philippines’ Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus status that provides tariff perks for Filipino goods until the Duterte government “immediately carry out impartial, transparent, independent and meaningful investigations into all extrajudicial killings.”

The resolution was adopted with 626 votes in favor, seven against, and 52 abstentions.

Allies of Duterte however dared Europe to go ahead with its sanctions and vowed reprisals in the future.

“No more discussions. They should do what they want to do during this time. If they want to implement it, go ahead,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“I’m sorry. I’m being very undiplomatic in my answer, but what else can I say? At the time of a pandemic, they’re threatening us. Susmaryosep, what else do we lose?” Roque added.

Philippine House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for his part said the European Parliament’s resolution is an interference in the “country’s domestic issues.”

“The Philippine House of Representatives takes exception to the outright interference of the European Parliament in the purely domestic matters of the Philippines by dictating on the government ‘to renew the broadcast license’ of ABS-CBN and to ‘drop’ the Cyberlibel charges against Maria Ressa,” Cayetano said in a statement.

“To our friends in the European Parliament, we have a saying here in the Philippines that the world is round. The day will come – mark my words – that the Philippines will be in a position to impose economic sanctions on your countries,” he said.

A bill seeking to block United States (US) assistance to the Philippine police and military, including equipment and training, “until human rights conditions are met,” has also been submitted by 19 US House of Representatives members last week.

Duterte’s de facto martial law

 ICHRP said it welcomes the resolution by the legislative branch of the European Union it said is a damning indictment of the human rights crisis in the Philippines.

“The demands for justice for those slain in the drug war, the killings of activists, attacks on press freedom have all gained international condemnation. It is an attestation that the world no longer tolerates this repressive government. Duterte and his dictator government will be made accountable,” ICHRP chairperson Peter Murphy said.

 “President Duterte with his ‘de facto’ Martial Law in place and the continuing repression in the country has found himself increasingly isolated in the international community. Cut from the same cloth as that of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Duterte is now synonymous with killings and human rights atrocity,” Murphy added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)