Cabusao, de Lima’s release hailed

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Even as it called the release of political detainees Sharon Cabusao and Isidro de Lima as “long overdue,” national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno expressed joy over a Bacoor court’s decision to junk charges of illegal possession of explosives against the two, who were released from detention last Wednesday.

The labor group said the case was in the first place merely fabricated by police and military officials who led the arrest of the leader of women’s group Gabriela and the KMU activist, together with National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Adelberto Silva, in Bacoor, Cavite in June 1, 2015.

“The case was filed only to justify Cabusao and de Lima’s detention together with Silva. Its junking is long overdue, but we are still very, very glad over our comrades’ release,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog,  KMU chairperson and convenor of the Free Adel Silva Committee.

The labor leader said Cabusao and de Lima’s release is a victory of the non-stop local and international campaign for their freedom, and of very competent people’s lawyers handling the case.

“This is a victory of all labor and women’s groups, all progressive organizations, in the country and abroad, who fought for their release. It is yet another proof that the collective action of workers, women and other sectors is needed in the struggle for political detainees’ freedom given the pro-elite and anti-Left bias of the country’s justice system,” Labog added.

KMU said that while the release has nothing to do with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of releasing all political prisoners in relation to the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP, Duterte’s promise showed the country that releasing political prisoners is most just.

“We look forward to the release of Silva, all NDFP consultants, labor rights defenders and political detainees under President-elect Duterte. Like Cabusao and de Lima, they are suffering from mere trumped-up charges and should not be in jail any minute longer. The struggle for the freedom of Silva and all political detainees definitely continues,” Labog stated.

KMU called on all Filipinos who believe in human rights and to the peace talks as a way of addressing the root causes of the armed rebellion in the country to speak out and join protests calling for political detainees’ immediate release.

Japanese embassy picketed over Nakashin strike

DSCF4182editNational labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket-protest at the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City this morning to demand the regularization of Nakashin Davao International Inc. workers.

Workers of the Japanese food manufacturing and export company operating in Davao City have been on strike since May 25 to demand the reinstatement of 75 workers who were illegally retrenched, the regularization of all long-term contractuals, and the full payment of the workers’ Service Incentive Leave and other underpaid benefits.

“We are calling on the Japanese government to tell their companies here in the country to respect workers’ rights. They must tell Nakashin to reinstate their illegally-retrenched workers and regularize all its long-term contractual employees,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The Nakashin management terminated 75 workers last April 9 because of the latter’s refusal to sign waivers and quitclaims which would cut their length of service after workers held a protest demanding the regularization of long-term contractuals.

“The 75 workers who are asserting their regularization in Nakashin have been working in the company for four to nine years and therefore deserve nothing less, but were illegally retrenched. This is clearly a violation of workers’ rights and constitute contractualization,” said Labog.

The labor leader also insisted that the workers’ demands are just and the Nakashin management is bound by the Philippines’ labor laws to heed the demands and is more than capable of doing so.

“The long-term contractuals employed by the agencies hired by the company should already be deemed regular employees of Nakashin under the law, but are still being denied regularization. They have every right to hold a strike against this greedy capitalist,” Labog said.

Even exsting labor laws state that employees who are performing tasks that are necessary and desirable to the usual business of the company – such as the Nakashin workers who are packers, slicers, cold storage attendants, and receivers – are considered regular employees.

The labor center meanwhile called on Filipino workers to support the strike of Nakashin workers, saying their fight for regularization is a blow to the Aquino government’s policy of promoting and legalizing contractual employment.

Terrorist tag vs. CPP-NPA should not hinder detainees’ release – KMU

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Today, we hold a protest in front of Camp Crame in time for a hearing on the trumped-up charges against Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and alleged senior cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.

The US government’s recent tagging of the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations should not hinder the release of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and other detained labor rights defenders and political detainees as promised by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

The US government again labelled the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations in order to block the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the NDFP, which was promised by Duterte. It also made the declaration in order to prevent the release of detained labor rights defenders and political detainees like the Tiamzons.

In the first place, it is the US government, not the CPP-NPA, which is the terrorist organization. It has been responsible for the death of millions of workers and people in the Philippines and the world because of its wars of aggression. It tags as “terrorist” organizations like the CPP-NPA which struggle against its wars of aggression and plunder of economies of underdeveloped countries like the Philippines.

The Tiamzons and other labor rights defenders and political detainees should not have been arrested in the first place. The Tiamzons should have been immune from arrest, because they are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG between the government and the NDFP. They are consultants in the peace talks between the government and the NDFP and were unarmed at the time of their arrest.

The cases filed against the Tiamzons and other detained labor rights defenders and political detainees are fake and were created with the aim of justifying their illegal detention by the government. These were filed by the now-defunct Inter-Agency Legal Action Group or IALAG, which was created precisely to file fake charges against NDFP consultants and leaders of revolutionary and progressive organizations.

The bones that were presented before the court as evidence against the Tiamzons and other detained labor rights defenders and political detainees were questioned at the most recent court hearing. It appears that these do not belong to humans, but to animals, and that prosecutors were not able to establish whose bones these are.

OJT irregularities at PSU should be probed – KMU

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We are calling for an investigation into an anomaly in the On-the-Job training program of the Pangasinan State University. We are also calling for support for Dharel dela Cruz, a business administration student of the university, who is a victim and the whistleblower in the anomaly.

Dela Cruz, a business administration student of the university, has been hospitalized because his lungs collapsed due to a respiratory ailment resulting from his OJT program at a pharmaceutical factory in Laguna.

Dela Cruz was not treated as a trainee, but as a contractual employee. His OJT program was facilitated by JIF Manpower and Referral Services. PSU administrators are washing their hands over the issue.

The incident exposes the following:
(1) Unsafe workplace conditions in the pharmaceutical factory that are unfit even for workers,
(2) The common practice of capitalists of assigning student trainees and contractuals to the most unsafe jobs,
(3) The use of labor contractors for shady transactions aimed at shielding capitalists, and now school administrators, from responsibility,
(4) The task of school administrators of guaranteeing their students’ safety in their OJT programs and ensuring that OJT programs should be about education, not capitalist exploitation, and
(5) The prevailing thrust of OJT programs to exploit students as workers.

The general objective of OJT programs should be clarified. They should aim at enabling students to learn jobs, not at enabling capitalists to exploit students. While only a thin line exists between the two in a society dominated by big foreign and local capitalists, the emphasis should be clear. This has implications for the intensity of the trainings and the setup for their implementation.

Labor agencies should be abolished in line with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of ending contractualization. Their continued existence in the modus operandi for carrying out contractualization is a bane to Filipino workers. The distinction between legitimate and fly-by-night contractors should be abandoned, together with the distinction between labor-only contracting and job contracting.

Duterte urged to stop Fabella privatization

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File Photo.

Joining protests in time for the scheduled eviction of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno appealed to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to speak out against the hospital’s eviction and impending privatization.

The labor group said Health Secretary Janette Garin and Pres. Noynoy Aquino leave defenders of the country’s biggest maternity hospital with no other option but to seek help from the president-elect.

“Unlike Aquino and Garin, Duterte has shown willingness to listen to the clamor of workers and the poor. We are calling on the president-elect to do everything he can to stop the closure and privatization of Fabella, which is very important for workers and the poor,” said Nitz Gonzaga, KMU vice-chair for women’s affairs.

While a news item stating that Duterte has already spoken out against the hospital’s eviction has been circulating in social media, the Save Fabella Hospital Movement claims that it has yet to receive a formal response to its letter addressed to the president-elect.

“Those who are saying that Fabella’s buildings are unsound are the same people who allowed the hospital’s structure to rot for years. They are the advocates of the hospital’s privatization and the denial of affordable maternal and prenatal care from workers and the poor,” added Gonzaga.

The labor leader said only four out of Fabella’s eight buildings were found to be unsafe, but all eight buildings are scheduled to be demolished, and that the hospital will be transferred to a piece of land also not owned by it.

“What the government should do is stop the eviction, stop the demolition, give the land to the hospital, and fund the hospital’s improvement. What we have been seeing is the government committing crime after crime against the hospital and its patients, the climax of which is the hospital’s eviction,” Gonzaga stated.

CPP-NPA no terrorist, US govt No. 1 terrorist – KMU

We condemn the US government for again labeling the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist organizations.

It is the US government that is the No. 1 terrorist in the Philippines and in the world. It is responsible for the death of 1.5 million Filipinos in its drive to colonize the Philippines. By continuously waging wars of aggression in various global regions after World War 2, it is responsible for the death of more than 35 million workers and peoples of the world.

The CPP and the NPA are not terrorist organizations. They are revolutionary movements that fight for the country’s liberation from US imperialism and its allied ruling classes of big compradors and landlords. They are widely recognized as heroes in the struggle against the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. The definition of terrorists as people who attack civilian populations in order to achieve political ends does not apply to the CPP and the NPA.

It is clear that the US government made the statement in an effort to sabotage the peace talks between the CPP-NPA via the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on the one hand and the government of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on the other. It is also trying to boost its propaganda seeking to justify its scheme of intensifying its military intervention into the country.

The terrorist label on the CPP-NPA has been used to try to justify extra-judicial killings and other human-rights violations targeting members and leaders of progressive organizations, including the KMU, who are tagged as fronts of the CPP and recruiters of the NPA. The US government’s mis-labeling of the CPP-NPA as terrorist is not good news for human rights in the country.

We are calling on President-elect Duterte, the Royal Norwegian Government, and all Filipinos who uphold human rights and seek a just and lasting peace to shun the lies of US imperialism against the CPP-NPA. Let us rely on what we know about the CPP-NPA, not on the lies of US imperialism.

Clenched-fist salute to Muhammad Ali

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“I am the greatest,” so Muhammad Ali declared.

And he was, not just in evading punches and delivering them, but in using the platforms available to him to speak out for African-Americans and against the US government’s imperialist wars of aggression.

To African-Americans of his generation, Ali’s refusal to serve in the US army to fight in Vietnam articulated what most of them were feeling: How dare the US government order them to burn, kill, and pillage small villages half a world away when in their own country they were treated as subhumans?

How can the US government bring about freedom and democracy in other countries when it is inflicting iron-fist rule of monopoly-capitalists on African-Americans and the majority in its very country?

Ali shunned his given name Cassius Marcellus Clay, saying it was his slave name and changed it to Muhammad Ali after joining the militant Nation of Islam. Because of his political leanings, he endured harrasments by the government. His boxing license was revoked during the prime of his career and was jailed. He was also targeted for surveillance by the National Security Agency. Yet he remained steadfast in his progressive views.

We hope that athletes and sports heroes in the Philippines and the world over will follow the shining example set by Muhammad Ali. It takes more, much more than brilliance in one’s field of sports to be a champion for the workers and peoples of the world. It takes the courage to stand up for what is right, to stand up against the wealthy and the powerful who rule unjustly over the world.

The workers of the Philippines raise our clenched fists in honoring Muhammad Ali, The Greatest.

SSS pension hike rejection by 16th Congress hit

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We condemn House Speaker Sonny Belmonte and the entire leadership of the House of Representatives for rejecting the move to override Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s veto of the P2,000 hike in Social Security System pensions.

Belmonte and the House leadership acted like Aquino’s stooge until the very end. They remained true to Aquino’s thrust of refusing or thwarting any form of immediate relief for ordinary Filipinos. They refused to heed workers’ and Filipinos’ clamor for change until the very end. Their rejection of the override, while predictable, is still revolting for SSS pensioners, workers, and all Filipinos.

We reiterate our praise for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to implement the P2,000 SSS pension hike. We urge him to take the fastest route towards granting the pension hike. If he grants the pension hike immediately, he will further emphasize his difference from the heartless Aquino, the end of whose anti-worker and anti-poor reign most Filipinos are eagerly waiting for.

Vice-mayor Duterte hit for insulting workers

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today Davao City Vice-Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte for insulting its leader for southern Mindanao over a contractuals’ strike at a Japanese-owned food manufacturing company.

The labor group said Vice-Mayor Duterte’s hurling of expletives and insults at Romualdo “Ka Dodong” Basilio, former chair of KMU-Southern Mindanao Region, in front of the striking workers of Nakashin Davao International, Inc. last Monday is revolting for the workers of Nakashin and all Filipino workers.

“It is utterly revolting that an elected government official could say such insults and expletives to a long-standing labor leader. Vice-mayor Duterte’s statements run counter to the positive moves being made by his father at the national level,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said the vice-mayor’s statements go against President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s vow of eradicating contractualization, freeing detained labor rights defenders and all political prisoners, and appointment of progressives in his Cabinet.

Adonis also said that KMU and Basilio are not responsible for continuing the strike at Nakashin, because the striking workers promised to end the strike the moment they receive a copy of the settlement agreement between them and the management, which never materialized.

“Workers don’t end strikes on the basis of a verbal promise that an agreement is underway. Capitalists can easily take back what they say in negotiations, so we want written agreements. We hope to clarify this for Vice-mayor Duterte and other politicians trying to help settle labor disputes,” Adonis added.

KMU said that if a verbal agreement has already been reached last May 28, then the workers, the management, and Vice-mayor Duterte should hold a meeting and resolve the labor dispute in favor of the workers once and for all.

“The demands of the striking contractuals of Nakashin are all just and should be heeded immediately by the Nakashin management. The workers’ union is most reasonable and is the party that’s most willing to negotiate. The Nakashin workers should not be blamed for continuing their strike, they should be supported,” Adonis stated.

Fabella Hospital privatization: wickedness to workers, poor

We condemn the move to privitize the Dr. Jose Fabella Hospital in the guise of transferring its location. We know for a fact that the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino has embarked on the privatization of 23 government hospitals, including Fabella, under its Public-Private Partnership program. We know that the Aquino government has used various pretexts to try to close down Fabella.

The privatization of Fabella would put affordable pre- and post-natal care out of the reach of workers and other poor Filipinos. A private entity with profit as primary motivation and with no accountability to the workers and the poor would only make things worse for indigent patients who look at government hospitals as their only recourse for their health issues. The privatization of a hospital that helps many worker and poor mothers give birth to their babies can only be described as wicked.

Many babies have died because parents cannot afford the high cost of health services in private institution. Cases like these should move the government to provide adequate subsidy and support to hospitals and other government-run institutions, and not turn them over to corporations whose prime considerations is how to make money.