Condemn Aquino’s scheme to sabotage P2,000 SSS pension hike

 

condemnFirst, Pres. Noynoy Aquino vetoed the P2,000 SSS pension hike. Then, his allies floated the possibility of an executive action on the issue – that is, for a mere P500-P1,000 pension hike. Yesterday, in a press conference, SSS executives floated the possibility of increasing members’ premium contributions to raise the funds needed for a pension hike.

 

Based on the foregoing, we have every reason to believe that the Aquino government wants SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and the poor to accept current pension levels. Or they are conditioning the public to accept a meager pension hike that will fully be shouldered by SSS members through a premium hike.

 

The Aquino government’s scheme to sabotage the P2,000 SSS pension hike is most unacceptable to the Filipino workers and people. We warn Aquino that his government will continue to reap the anger and condemnation of workers and all Filipinos should he push through with this scheme. We warn him that he will end his term in further infamy and that his anointed candidates will lose if he carries out this scheme.

 

The truth is Aquino is not interested in extending the fund life of the SSS; he has in fact allowed SSS execs to collect less than 40% of what they should, he has not filed cases against delinquent employers, and pocket million in salaries and bonuses.

 

He only wants to preserve SSS funds for investments in big capitalist businesses such as the Philex Mining, PLDT, Union Bank, Security Bank, Metro Bank, First Philippine Holdings, Globe Telecom, Alliance Global, and Ayala Corp., among others. He also wants to preserve SSS funds for patronage to his appointees and for bureaucratic corruption. He is heartless because he is thoroughly anti-worker and pro-capitalist.

 

We are calling on all SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and all Filipinos to intensify our struggle for a P2,000 SSS pension hike. Let us not be fooled by the lies and empty promises of the Aquino government. Let us continue joining protests and other activities and let us continue speaking up for our demand.

No compromise: P2,000 SSS pension hike pressed

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Amidst “compromise” proposals of a P500 or P1,000 hike in monthly Social Security System pensions, pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and other sectors of society again marched to Mendiola this morning to assert their original demand for a P2,000 hike.

The protestors led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno continued to condemn Pres. Noynoy Aquino for vetoing the proposal for a P2,000 pension hike four days ago, and demanded that the chief executive or Congress and the Senate do everything in their powers to carry out the said hike.

“Do we want a P500 or a P1,000 pension hike? We want a P2,000 pension hike. We are calling on Congress and the Senate to override Aquino’s veto. We are calling on Aquino to make an executive action. We will fight in every front so that pensioners will get a P2,000 hike,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader said the compromise proposals are being floated by Aquino’s allies in an attempt to stem the public’s growing anger over Aquino’s veto of the proposed hike, which is being used by many sectors as a basis for calling for “zero votes” for Aquino’s anointed presidentiable Mar Roxas and vice-presidentiable Leni Robredo.

“We have to continue fighting for P2,000 pension hike. These promises are being dangled not because these politicians really care for pensioners and would-be pensioners. They fear that their cheating won’t become credible because calls for zero votes are getting louder,” Soluta added.

The protestors erected a huge image of Pres. Noynoy Aquino similar to images being circulated on Facebook and social media and repeated what they did in last Friday’s protest and pelted the image with rotten tomatoes and eggs.

“There is already so much anger and clamor coming from pensioners, senior citizens, their families and ordinary workers and Filipinos, and we are just starting. We vow to hold more and bigger protests in the coming days,” Soluta said.

KMU said they will troop to the House of Representatives in the afternoon to support Rep. Neri Colmenares, sponsor of the P2,000 SSS Pension Hike Bill, who is scheduled to make a privilege speech on the issue.

The labor group said it has plans of holding protests in front of SSS offices all over the country, of Senate and Congress, and in areas frequented by SSS pensioners and their families in the coming days.

Aquino, a ‘heartless liar’ in SSS pension hike veto – KMU

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One day after Pres. Noynoy Aquino vetoed a bill seeking a P2,000 across-the-board pension hike for Social Security System pensioners, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and other sectors of society marched to Mendiola to condemn the chief executive and continue to press for the demand.

The labor group, which pelted an image of Aquino and SSS president and CEO with eggs and rotten tomatoes, called the president and “heartless” for vetoing House Bill 5842 filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and a “liar” for claiming that the SSS cannot fund the pension hike.

“Pensioners, their families, the Filipino workers and people are angry over Aquino’s heartless veto of the SSS pension hike. Everyone who pushed for this measure and wanted it to be passed are indignant that he simply vetoed this form of immediate relief,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader cited the study of independent labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research saying the P56 billion annual total of the pension hike can be shouldered by the SSS, given the latter’s P160-billion annual revenue and P428-billion reserved investment funds.

“Aquino is trying to deceive the public by invoking numbers that try to show that the SSS would be rendered bankrupt by the pension hike. The truth is that the SSS has funds for the hike and that it can and must take various measures to increase its fund life,” Soluta added.

He said that the SSS should improve its collection efficiency which currently stands at 40 percent, penalize delinquent employers by filing charges against them, do away with the salaries and bonuses of its top officials amounting to millions, and reduce its overhead costs.

“We are calling on all SSS pensioners, their families, all workers and Filipinos, to make our clamor louder. Let us continue to speak up on social media, use pensioners and senior citizens’ activities to voice out our demands, and join protests and other activities for our demand,” Soluta stated.

Soluta called on the public to join another march to Mendiola on January 18, Monday, which will assemble at the intersection of Recto and Avenida avenues in Manila starting at 9:00 in the morning.

Veto of SSS Pension Hike #WalangPuso, hit by workers

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We condemn Pres. Noynoy Aquino for vetoing the SSS pension hike. He has again shown that he is heartless (#WalangPuso) towards SSS pensioners, workers and all Filipinos. He has again shown that hardworking Filipinos are being run over by corruption, patronage and pro-business bias in his so-called Daang Matuwid (Straight Path).

Aquino’s excuse for vetoing the measure is a lie and a mere scare tactic. The SSS has the funds for the pension hike. The SSS can further extend its fund life by improving its collection efficiency, penalizing employers who fail to remit members’ contributions, doing away with huge bonuses for its board members, and reducing its administrative costs. The SSS’s collection efficiency is currently at the disgusting 40% level.

We are calling on all SSS pensioners, workers and Filipinos to express our disappointment, dismay, condemnation and anger over Aquino’s move. Let us maximize social media and join upcoming activities and protests to condemn the veto and to press this government to heed the clamor for a P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. Let us intensify our fight!

On Pulse Asia’s survey on Pinoys’ top concerns

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Pulse Asia’s December 2015 survey regarding Filipinos’ top national concerns reflects the bad state of the economy at the end of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s term. It belies this government’s claim of economic growth and shows that this government is a failure in improving the lives of workers and majority of Filipinos.

We call on top candidates running in the 2016 elections to heed workers and all Filipinos who are making their voice heard through the survey. We call on them to stand for higher wages, lower prices and decent jobs. The country will be able to create decent employment only through the implementation of the twin policies of land reform and national industrialization.

We call on workers and Filipinos to join the fight for higher wages, lower prices and decent jobs. While we can expect politicians to make pro-worker and pro-people promises during the elections, we cannot expect them to deliver our demands to our doorsteps. We have to fight for lower wages, higher prices and decent jobs.

The survey showed that Filipinos’ top priorities are the following: controlling inflation (45 percent), increasing workers’ wages (42 percent), reducing poverty (38 percent), and creating more jobs (34 percent).

Layoff of 44 flat glass workers hit

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the retrenchment of 44 workers in a Japanese-owned flat glass factory in Pasig City, claiming AGC Flat Glass Philippines is trying to bust the workers’ union which is fighting for the regularization of contractuals.

The labor group said that the company has already retrenched 37 workers before the start of negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement in March 2015 and has refused to respond to the union’s proposals for the regularization of contractuals and for higher wages and benefits.

“We condemn AGC Flat Glass Philippines for committing a wholesale violation of workers’ rights. It has been illegally dismissing workers, trying to bust the workers’ union, refusing to actually bargain with workers, and preventing contractuals from being regularized,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said AGC Flat Glass Philippines, which makes flat glass for homes and companies as well as solar panels, has also retrenched hundreds of long-standing contractuals after the start of negotiations for a CBA in order to thwart the unions’ drive to make them regulars.

“AGC Flat Glass Philippines has gotten away with long-term contractualization for decades. It wants to continue amassing huge profits at the expense of workers despite protests from workers and their supporters,” Adonis added.

When AGC Flat Glass Philippines started in the Philippines in 1985 with the name Asahi Flat Glass Philippines, all of its close to 1,000 workers were regulars and unionized. While the total workforce remains the same, the number of regulars has shrunk to a mere 150 at present.

“The fight against contractualization is a fight of all workers and all Filipinos. Contractualization is a whole-scale violation of workers’ rights that should be banned entirely,” said Adonis.

KMU has been calling for the banning of contractualization, including the scrapping of Department of Labor and Employment Order No. 18-A Series of 2011, of the Herrera Law, and the Labor Code of 1974.

The AGC Flat Glass Philippines management claims that the layoffs is a result of the closure of its Solar Panel Department but workers demand that the department’s workers be absorbed in other departments.

On the SC ruling on EDCA

We condemn the Supreme Court for declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement as constitutional. We accuse the majority of the SC justices of carrying out orders from Pres. Noynoy Aquino who has exceeded previous presidents when it comes to puppetry to the US.

EDCA means the spread of US bases all over the country. It further violates Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, further endangers Filipino lives and properties, and further imperils the environment. The SC decision on the EDCA plunges the Philippines deeper into neocolonial relations with the US.

The SC made the ruling less than two weeks before the anniversary of the bloodbath in Mamasapano, which was ordered by the US and involved US military presence in the country. EDCA is a neocolonial, not a nationalist, response to China’s incursions into Philippine territory.

We vow to intensify our fight for an end to US military presence in the country and for the junking of treaties upholding such presence. We vow to intensify our struggle for a Philippines that is genuinely free from US imperialism.

Aquino brought giant ballpen for SSS pension hike

Article - 2016.01.15 No.2

Carrying an effigy of a ballpen, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno marched to Mendiola this morning to call on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to sign a bill that will raise Social Security System pensions by P2,000 across-the-board.

Saying the pension hike is long overdue, the labor group condemned Presidential Communications Operations Office Usec. Manuel Quezon III for asking the public last Saturday to wait for the chief executive’s action on the bill which was transmitted to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office last Dec. 15.

“SSS pensioners, workers and Filipinos cannot wait anymore. The SSS pension hike is long overdue, should have been signed before Christmas, and should be signed immediately,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general and himself and SSS pensioner.

The labor leader also condemned Quezon for hinting that a “compromise” on the bill should be made supposedly because the fund life of the SSS would become shorter if the pension hike is approved.

“We condemn the Aquino government for trying to scare SSS pensioners and workers into accepting low pensions. It is trying to hide the fact that all social security systems in the world have limited fund lives,” Soluta added.

He cited the United Kingdom, whose version of the SSS has a fund life of 12 years, and Canada, whose version of the SSS has a fund life of six years – shorter than the 14 years being claimed by the SSS.

“The SSS has funds for the increase. It will have more funds if it improves its collection efficiency, penalizes employers who fail to remit members’ contributions, does away with the huge bonuses of its board members, and reduces its administrative costs,” Soluta stated.

Citing research from Cong. Neri Colmenares’s office, KMU said the SSS has a collection rate of only 38 percent, has filed only 1,200 cases a year against 164,111 delinquent employers as of 2010.

It also said that the SSS has given more than P1 million in bonus to each of its board members in 2012, has given its retiring board members a pension package of more than P200 million in 2009, and has spent more than its counterpart in other countries for administrative costs.

“We oppose any compromise on this issue, whether in the form of a lower pension hike or an increase in members’ premium contributions, like what the SSS leadership wants. The reasons being cited by the SSS and the Aquino government are simply unacceptable,” Soluta stated.

2016 bets dared: emulate ‘Ka Bel,’ stand for workers

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Workers and labor advocates celebrated Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran’s 83rd birthday today with a short program in front of the labor leader’s bust in Plaza Miranda, Manila in which they dared candidates for the 2016 elections to emulate his example of standing up for the country’s workers.

Led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and labor NGO Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center, the attendees called on candidates to side with workers in demanding a significant wage hike, an end to contractual employment, safer workplaces, and the free exercise of trade-union rights.

“As a labor leader and party-list representative, Ka Bel lived a life of service to Filipino workers which should be emulated by all politicians. We challenge candidates to speak up for higher wages, regular employment, safer workplaces and free exercise of trade-union rights,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said that Beltran, as a former representative of partylist groups Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, consistently championed workers’ demand for a P125 across-the-board wage hike, an end to the regionalization of wages, the junking of contractualization, and a stop to union-busting drives.

“Workers and Filipinos need more people like Ka Bel in government. The country is in such a bad shape at present partly because people who are the opposite of what Ka Bel was, those who serve big capitalists over workers, are the ones occupying the top positions in government,” Labog added.

Workers from Planters Development Bank, AGC Flat Glass Philippines, Tanduay Distillers, Inc. and Kentex Manufacturing Inc. spoke up about their present struggles and aired their demands to politicians.

Some of the attendees, which included leaders of partylist groups Piston and Anakpawis, wore masks containing the labor leader’s face and held a streamer that read “Hamon sa Kandidato: Tularan si Ka Bel! Paglingkuran ang obrero! (Challenge to candidates: Be like Ka Bel! Stand up for workers!)”

“The great thing about Ka Bel as a labor leader and congressman is that he did not confine the workers’ struggles to the halls of Congress. He believed that advancing the rights and interests of workers entail the unity and collective action of workers themselves in their workplaces and communities,” Labog stated.

Labog said that Beltran dreamed of a Philippines led by workers and the toiling masses and achieving genuine development for the country through the twin policies of national industrialization and land reform.

Arrest try vs. ex-KMU official condemned

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National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s attempt to arrest Rafael Baylosis, the group’s former vice-chairperson for political and external affairs, claiming that the operation was unjustified and based on trumped-up charges.

At 5:40 in the afternoon on January 1, around 10 to 12 CIDG personnel aboard three vehicles went to the Malolos, Bulacan residence of Lualhati Baylosis, wife of Rafael and member of KMU’s advisory board, to try to serve a bench warrant of arrest to Baylosis on the basis of a case that’s still undergoing hearings and in relation to 15 counts of murder allegedly committed more than 20 years ago.

The CIDG team, the leaders of which introduced themselves as Chief Inspector Niño Briones and Inspector Bernardo Suarez, left the area after being allowed to enter the residence and finding out that Baylosis was not there. Briones offered to leave a cellular phone number in case Lualhati decides to cooperate with the police, but the latter declined the offer.

Baylosis is charged with multiple murder – together with fellow National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Satur Ocampo, Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis, among more than 60 others – in relation to an alleged mass grave discovered in Sitio Sapang Daco, Barangay Kaulisihan, Inopacan, Leyte in 2006.

“We condemn this attempt to arrest our former official and the harassment and possible surveillance of his family. We condemn the Aquino government for continuing its drive of hunting down, arresting and imprisoning activist leaders on the basis of trumped-up charges,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader blamed the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan for keeping the trumped-up charges alive, saying the government is using political repression against activists and others opposing the regime, instead of addressing the root causes of rebellion by continuing peace negotiations with the NDFP.

“Many activist leaders are being hunted down and imprisoned while their families are being subjected to surveillance and harassment because of false charges. These cases were filed by the government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo against its critics, are based on testimonies of false witnesses and highly-questionable evidence, and should be junked immediately,” Adonis added.

Baylosis and his co-accused had earlier asked the Supreme Court to stop the hearing on  the case, stating that five of the alleged victims, whose skeletal remains were allegedly found in Monterico village, Baybay, Leyte on June 27, 2000 were the same alleged victims whose skeletal remains were allegedly found on August 26, 2006 in Inopacan, Leyte.

They also argued that the witnesses admitted that they are all under the custody of the military, that no substantial evidence was presented by the police and the military to prove that the bodies of the 15 alleged victims, or any one of them, were among the skeletal remains found in Inopacan, Leyte, and that the Hernandez political doctrine applies in the case.