On Red Kapunan’s acquittal in Olalia-Alay-ay murder

We condemn the acquittal by the Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 97, specifically by Judge Marie Claire Mabutas-Sordan, of ex-Colonel Eduardo “Red” Kapunan from the double murder case which resulted from the abduction, torture and killing of former Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Rolando Olalia and his aide and labor activist Leonor Alay-ay in November 1986.

We feel as if our comrades have been murdered again. This decision is the latest addition to the long list of injustices committed against our comrades, their families and friends, and the Filipino workers and people. It further exposes the anti-worker and anti-poor nature of the country’s so-called justice system, which takes too long to process cases where the complainants are poor and the suspects are rich and which almost always decides in favor of the latter.

It is revolting that Kapunan was set free while the soldiers whom he ordered to commit the crime – Desiderio Perez, Dennis Jabatan and Fernando Cassanova – will remain behind bars. This further exposes the impunity granted to top military officials by the Philippine government. We have every reason to believe that Kapunan was acquitted to prevent him from implicating the masterminds of the case, who are known to the public – Juan Ponce Enrile and Gringo Honasan.

We have every reason to believe that Pres. Noynoy Aquino only used the case to persecute his political opponents Enrile and Honasan, and not really seek justice for Ka Lando and Ka Leonor. We recall that the case against Kapunan was revived after a fake KMU press release was circulated in the media in January 2012 calling for the reopening of the case on the basis that “the wind of justice is finally blowing in the country.” Aquino only used the case to make it appear that he was indeed taking the pursuing Daang Matuwid under his regime.

We are calling on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who promises to rid the military of bad elements and to uphold the law, to help us seek justice on the Olalia-Alay-ay double murder case. The Olalia-Alay-ay murder case is a landmark case of injustice that serves as a yardstick in measuring presidents’ commitment to justice, or lack thereof as has been the case so far.

On Red Kapunan’s acquittal in Olalia-Alay-ay murder

We condemn the acquittal by the Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 97, specifically by Judge Marie Claire Mabutas-Sordan, of ex-Colonel Eduardo “Red” Kapunan from the double murder case which resulted from the abduction, torture and killing of former Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Rolando Olalia and his aide and labor activist Leonor Alay-ayin November 1986.

We feel as if our comrades have been murdered again. This decision is the latest addition to the long list of injustices committed against our comrades, their families and friends, and the Filipino workers and people. It further exposes the anti-worker and anti-poor nature of the country’s so-called justice system, which takes too long to process cases where the complainants are poor and the suspects are rich and which almost always decides in favor of the latter.

It is revolting that Kapunan was set free while the soldiers whom he ordered to commit the crime – Desiderio Perez, Dennis Jabatan and Fernando Cassanova – will remain behind bars. This further exposes the impunity granted to top military officials by the Philippine government. We have every reason to believe that Kapunan was acquitted to prevent him from implicating the masterminds of the case, who are known to the public – Juan Ponce Enrile and Gringo Honasan.

We have every reason to believe that Pres. Noynoy Aquino only used the case to persecute his political opponents Enrile and Honasan, and not really seek justice for Ka Lando and Ka Leonor. We recall that the case against Kapunan was revived after a fake KMU press release was circulated in the media in January 2012 calling for the reopening of the case on the basis that “the wind of justice is finally blowing in the country.” Aquino only used the case to make it appear that he was indeed taking the pursuing Daang Matuwid under his regime.

We are calling on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who promises to rid the military of bad elements and to uphold the law, to help us seek justice on the Olalia-Alay-ay double murder case. The Olalia-Alay-ay murder case is a landmark case of injustice that serves as a yardstick in measuring presidents’ commitment to justice, or lack thereof as has been the case so far.

P10 COLA, Aquino’s insulting farewell gift to workers – KMU

One day before the implementation of a P10 Cost of Living Allowance for Metro Manila workers, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said the measure is Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s insulting farewell gift to workers.

KMU said the implementation of the P10 COLA seals Aquino’s record of pressing down wages by implementing only meager wage adjustments and further fragmenting the minimum wage levels throughout the country.

“The P10 COLA for Metro Manila workers shows that Aquino has consistently been anti-worker until the end of his term. He refused to give workers any immediate relief in the form of a significant wage hike and further destroyed the minimum wage,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

Citing data from independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, the labor leader said the resulting P481 minimum wage and the P10 COLA is equivalent to no more than 45 percent of the Family Living Wage, or the amount needed daily by an average Filipino family to live decently.

“The P10 COLA for workers in the National Capital Region shows that the economic growth which the Aquino government brags about means little to the majority of Filipinos. The so-called growth does not mean food on the dining table of workers’ families,” Labog stated.

Labog said the 6.9 percent growth in the country’s first-quarter Gross Domestic Product means little for Filipino workers who are being denied the right to a minimum wage, let alone a living wage.

“What is economic growth if workers are being denied the right to a minimum wage? There is no minimum wage in effect in the country given the regionalization of wage setting, the numerous exemptions to providing the minimum wage, and capitalists’ sheer refusal to give even the legally-mandated minimum,” Labog added.

KMU is calling for the enactment of a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P750 per day for private-sector workers and P16,000 monthly for government employees, a demand which it will present to incoming president Rodrigo Duterte.

 

 

Duterte nod to P2,000 SSS pension hike welcomed

We welcome President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he will approve the P2,000 hike in Social Security System pensions. We are glad that he recognizes the elderly’s need for higher pensions and the fact that current pension levels are too meager to meet pensioners’ basic needs. We are very pleased that as a senior citizen himself, Duterte expresses identification with SSS pensioners’ vulnerability to illnesses.

Duterte’s commitment to hike SSS pensions further emphasizes his difference from the heartless and anti-worker presidency of Noynoy Aquino. We are glad that we will have a president who listens to the clamor and protests of pensioners, workers, and all Filipinos. We vow to continue speaking out and holding protests until the first batch of increased pensions is received by pensioners demanding relief from hunger and poverty.

Contrary to the claims of Aquino and his overpaid cronies in the SSS management, the SSS can raise the funds needed for the pension hike and the government has the obligation to help pensioners through the SSS. We urge Duterte to look at proposals made by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and Rep. Neri Colmenares of progressive partylist group Bayan Muna for raising funds for the pension hike.

Protests held in SSS offices nationwide

sss offices
Several offices of the Social Security System across the country were picketed this morning by pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and other sectors of society calling for a P2,000 across-the-board hike in pensions, which Pres. Noynoy Aquino vetoed two weeks ago.

The protestors, led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, held pickets in front of SSS offices in Quezon City, Baguio, Calamba, Legaspi, Iloilo, Kalibo, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Davao cities and claimed that they won’t stop holding protests until the pension hike is implemented.

Calling their action “Kalampagin ang SSS,” the protestors called on senior citizens lining up for their pensions inside the SSS offices to join them and banged empty pots and pans as they shouted their call “Pensyon sa SSS, dagdagan, dagdagan! Across-the-board, two thousand!”

“No amount of silence from Aquino and no amount of lies from his publicists would stop the clamor for a P2,000 pension hike. Those in favor of the pension hike are getting angrier and eager to join protests and other activities to speak out,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader said many of those who have been following the issue were not convinced with Aquino’s excuse that the SSS would go bankrupt if the pension hike is approved.

“Many of those who have an interest in this issue know that the SSS has the funds for the pension hike, that the SSS can and must do a lot of things to extend its fund life, and that the government can even subsidize the pension hike. There’s no way Aquino can convince pensioners and their supporters to give up,” Soluta added.

KMU called on pensioners and all workers and Filipinos to join the January 30 activity at the Quezon City Memorial Circle titled “Sama-Samang Sigaw” which is expected to be the biggest gathering so far of those clamoring for a pension hike.

SSS veto naysayers belittled by workers

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Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with other progressive organizations, picketed the House of Representatives this morning to call on lawmakers to override Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s veto of the P2,000 hike in Social Security System pensions.

The labor group claimed that statements like those of House Speaker Sonny Belmonte’s, who said that the override is “unlikely,” are only further fanning the flames of anger of SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and all Filipinos.

“We condemn those who say that the veto override is not possible. Contrary to their intention, they are inciting Filipinos to make the clamor for a P2,000 across-the-board pension hike even louder,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader called on SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and all Filipinos to join upcoming protests aimed at displaying the broad clamor for the demand.

“If all Filipinos who favor the pension hike would only speak out, unite, and act, nothing is impossible. Aquino and his naysayers want the clamor to stop, but the fight is just starting for many Filipinos,” Soluta added.

KMU, the Action against Contractualization and Towards a Significant Wage Increase Now! (ACT2WIN!), the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and senior citizen groups are calling on Filipinos to join a January 30 protest in Quezon City Memorial Circle.

A nationwide protest in front of SSS offices is also being planned on January 28 to show widespread disgust over SSS executives’ defense of the veto despite the millions of pesos that they pocketed in salaries and bonuses.

“We are calling on all SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and Filipinnos to join the said protests. Now is the time to be heard. Let us intensify the fight until we get our legitimate demand,” Soluta stated.

KMU is also leading a “Zero Vote” campaign against presidentiable Mar Roxas, vice-presidentiable Leni Robredo, senatoriable and PhilHealth director Risa Hontiveros, and partylist Akbayan, a member of the Daang Matuwid coalition.

Justice for Mamasapano deaths!

mamasapano
Today, we mark the first anniversary of the Mamasapano bloodbath by joining protests calling for justice.

We point to the US government, Pres. Noynoy Aquino and his chief accomplice in the Philippine National Police, Alan Purisima, as the masterminds behind this crime. The regime’s lies have failed to insulate the main culprits from blame in the eyes of the Filipino workers and people.

We demand the jailing of Aquino and Purisima over this crime. Former Department of Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas did not at the very least condemn Aquino and Purisima for bypassing him in launching the botched operation. He deserves to lose his presidential bid for this.

We demand the junking of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, the Visiting Forces Agreement, and other agreements that legalize US military presence in the country. Ultimately, we seek to rid the country of the domination of the US and its allies among the ruling classes.

Mamasapano shows the real face of the so-called “war on terror” of the US. The target was spawned by decades of US brutality towards Muslims and the oppressed workers and peoples of the world. It entailed the violation of the sovereignty of a puppet state and the death of military forces and native populations of the neocolony.

Aquino will go down in history as one of Philippine presidents who are most subservient to the US. We condemn him for allowing the unhampered flight of US drones in Philippine airspace and entry of US ships into Philippine territory. We condemn him for allowing the participation of US troops in combat operations and approving an agreement that legalizes the building of US bases all over the country.

Fare rollback should stop at P7.00

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The big-time rollback in global oil prices and even the meager rollbacks in domestic oil prices indeed deserve a rollback in jeepney fares. But unless a big-time rollback in domestic oil prices in the vicinity of P5.00 per liter is carried out, we believe that the rollback in the basic jeepney fares should stop at P7.00.

We should exercise compassion towards the country’s jeepney drivers. They are some of the hardest working Filipinos and are some of the hardest on cash. Before the latest rollback, most of the jeepney drivers in Metro Manila were taking home no more than P400 a day, below the P481 minimum wage in the region.

The rollback in jeepney fares is just crumbs compared with the effects of more important measures that the government should take in response to the big-time rollbacks in oil prices worldwide:

(1) It should order the Big 3 oil cartel to implement an even bigger price rollbacks. Studies show that they should have lowered their the per liter prices of diesel and gasoline by P8.00 and P15.00 respectively but have refused to do so until now.

(2) It should order a rollback in fares for the MRT and LRT, which depend on oil for their operation. The fact that MRT and LRT fares are unresponsive to oil prices exposes the layers upon layers of anomalous privatization contracts that are burdensome to all Filipinos.

(3) It should order a rollback in power and water rates. This is also another area where anomalous privatization contracts that are burdensome to Filipinos hinder service rates from being responsive to lower oil prices.

While domestic oil prices have been decreasing, vehicular traffic, especially in Metro Manila, has been getting worse. The unbearable traffic, which has been worsened by the Aquino government’s policies, is taking its toll on the earnings of jeepney drivers.

Si Aquino, ang kinakaya-kaya lagi ay ang mga drayber, manggagawa at maralita sa pagtatanggol sa interes ng malalaking kapitalista at haciendero (Aquino has always been thugging up on jeepney drivers, workers and the poor in defending the interests of big capitalists and landlords).

Labor conditions worse, DOLE lying

labor worse
The Department of Labor and Employment is lying in saying that labor conditions in the country have improved. The condition of  wages, employment, trade-union rights and workplace safety remain dire.

Even if the DOLE’s claims about more frequent labor inspections and faster resolution of labor cases are true, these have not significantly altered the prevalence of low wages, contractual employment, and violations of trade-union rights and Occupational Health and Safety Standards.

Even if the DOLE’s claims about summer employment programs for the youth and the availability of information on jobs in the Internet are true, these have not brought about a better employment condition in the country.

It appears that the DOLE made the fantastic claim that labor conditions have improved in the country in order to please the International Labor Organization, the Asian Development Bank, the Canadian government, and other funders of its programs.

The truth is that labor conditions have worsened in the past years. Funding from foreign governments and institutions can do little to improve the plight of Filipino workers, but they can at least be used to expose this plight. The DOLE’s failure to truthfully present the condition of workers indicates that funds may have been pocketed by its top officials.

Wages. Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation has said this month that the minimum wage was barely increased under Pres. Noynoy Aquino and that its gap with the Family Living Wage grew in recent years.

We ask the DOLE: What happened to companies’ compliance with the minimum wage? The October 2011 National Labor Force Survey showed that 46 percent of the country’s wage and salary workers were receiving wages below the minimum.

Contractualization. The DOLE itself has not updated data on contractualization and we have every reason to believe that contractuals now comprise the majority of workers, both in the private and public sectors.

Employment. In a July 2015 study, Ibon Foundation said that the country is experiencing the worst jobs crisis in history, with 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed.

Union busting. When workers try to form unions, they are massively retrenched. How many capitalists have the DOLE punished for this widespread crime? What has the DOLE done to render justice to the workers of Tanduay Distillers, Inc., Pentagon Steel Corporation, and other companies who faced violence in their picket lines?

Occupational Health and Safety. Even the DOLE’s inspection failed to prevent the death of more than 72 workers in the factory fire that gutted Kentex Manufacturing Corporation last May 13, 2015. The agency has so refused to aid victims in their quest for justice.

SSS execs failed to deceive the public – KMU

sss exec
Joining a gathering and a protest of advocates of a P2,000 across-the-board increase in Social Security System pensions at the Quezon City Sports Club this morning, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said that executives of the workers’ fund have failed to deceive the public into accepting current pension levels.

The labor group said the clamor for the pension hike continues to grow, as reflected in radio shows and in social media, and that more and more groups are expressing their eagerness to hold various activities to voice out the demand.

KMU said that in their presscon last Monday, SSS executives merely rehashed Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s arguments, which have been refuted, and served up new lies which were have also been refuted.

“The SSS executives failed to convince the public that the SSS cannot fund the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. They only reaped the public’s anger with their arrogance and thinly-veiled lies,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader said SSS commission representative for the general public Michael Alimurung’s claim that majority of the fund’s members are informal workers was refuted by data from the SSS which shows that more than 22 million out of its more than 30 million members are wage and salary workers.

He also said that Filipinos immediately sensed that Alimurung, together with SSS president and chief executive officer Emilio de Quiros Jr., were lying when they claimed that not all SSS members are poor.

“Last Monday’s press conference only highlighted just how palpak (inept) SSS executives really are. They were trying to come up with excuses to not raise the SSS pension and they failed miserably,” Soluta added.

KMU has repeatedly claimed that SSS has the funds for the increase, that it can still undertake measures to further increase the funds without increasing members’ premium contributions, and that the government can fund the pension hike in the future should SSS funds won’t suffice.

“There really is no excuse for not implementing the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. Public anger will not subside until the Aquino government implements the said pension hike immediately,” Soluta stated.

KMU called on SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and all Filipinos to join upcoming protests at the Batasang Pambansa, the SSS main office in East Avenue, Senate and Luneta.