Labor Day 2018, marked by workers’ historic unity and outrage vs the fascist Duterte regime

We Filipino workers mark this year’s International Labor Day commemoration with a historic nationwide protest that highlights our unity and outrage against Rodrigo Duterte’s failed promises, implementation of anti-worker policies, establishment of a fascist dictatorship through massive killings and gross trade union and human rights violations.

On Contractualization

Workers are outraged over Duterte’s rejection of our demand to end all forms of contractualization. We are not buying his desperate and repeated ploys to quell the labor sector’s growing protests and unity against his failed promises. We firmly believe that his claim that he “may or may not” sign an EO this Labor Day is just another PR stunt as last year’s Labor Day Dialogue where he promised to sign our EO which only ended in zero.

On Wages

There has been no real increase in wages since Duterte became President. Instead of a substantial wage hike, Duterte gave us price hikes through the notorious TRAIN law. As a result, the gap between the current minimum wage levels and the estimated Family living wage has grown ever wider. Whatever incremental wage or non-wage benefit Duterte passes this Labor Day will be insufficient to close this gap. Instead, we demand the implementation of a national minimum wage, along with increasing wages to P750 for all workers nationwide.

On Jobs

The hypocrisy of the Duterte regime is evident in the recent issues involving the loss of jobs for Filipinos here and abroad. Duterte is pushing for OFWs in Kuwait to return to the Philippines out of “nationalism,” yet his Labor Day job fairs are driving more and more Filipino workers out of the country. Moreover, he has just destroyed 36,000 jobs in Boracay to pave the way for Chinese investors. In the same vein, around 600,000 jeepney drivers are threatened to lose their livelihoods under the government’s jeepney phase-out program, while handing over the monopoly control of our public transport system to foreign corporations.

On Duterte’s tyranny and creeping dictatorship

This Labor Day, we vow to fight and defeat Duterte’s tyranny and creeping dictatorship. Duterte’s fascist tactics — his killing spree of unionists and labor rights advocates, the persecution of his political opponents, and the criminalization and terrorist tagging of workers’ and people’s legitimate dissent — must stop. We demand the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao, which has led to gross labor and human rights violations in the region. We will not allow Duterte to push through with his Charter Change that would allow him to establish his fascist dictatorship.

This year’s historic Labor Day nationwide protest of over 150,000 workers only marks the beginning of our growing unity and resistance against Duterte’s oppressive and tyrannical rule.

Jollibee regularization order futile without EO vs endo – KMU

The Duterte administration’s regularization order for fast food workers of Jollibee is only a publicity stunt, unless it is backed by concrete policies to prohibit and penalize all forms of contractualization.

Workers have the right to regular jobs; to fair wages and benefits; and to the freedom to organize, unionize, and bargain with their employers. But contractual workers are denied all these basic rights. That’s why the unjust, anti-worker practice of “endo” or contractualization is not something that should be merely regulated, or limited. It should be wholly and permanently banned.

In February, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered Coca-Cola to regularize 675 employees. Similar orders were issued for nearly 8,000 PLDT workers in January. And this April, DOLE ordered Jollibee and Burger King to regularize 6,482 and 704 workers, respectively.

These developments can be attributed to the unceasing and legitimate campaign of workers, pressuring the government to uphold the right to regularization. KMU has supported all unions and workers who hold protest actions, pickets, and strikes against illegal dismissals and other violations of labor rights.

But none of the affected corporations have complied, so the DOLE orders are virtually worthless. The government has no mechanism in place for ensuring implementation; and indeed, often sides with the management of companies who refuse to regularize their employees. Instead of penalizing Coca-Cola and other corporations who violate the DOLE orders, the Duterte regime even sends police forces to disperse legitimate pickets and strikes.

These individual DOLE rulings, trickling out one after another over the past few months, are merely a ruse to make it look like the Duterte administration supports workers’ rights. In truth, Duterte openly refused to sign a draft executive order (EO) prepared by an alliance of labor groups intended to end all forms of contractualization. Signing that draft EO would have been an impactful and decisive move, proof of his determination to fulfill his campaign promise to workers, but Duterte rejected it.

Meanwhile, Duterte has announced that he will hold another dialogue with the labor sector on April 16. Duterte’s claim that he is “not empowered” to stop endo is patently false. If he can legitimize contractualization, as he has done for the past two years, then he can also end it. He controls both the executive and legislative branches of government through his appointees and allies and has managed to railroad a slew of anti-worker and anti-people policies, such as the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Workers have rightly lost faith in Duterte’s sincerity. DOLE orders and dialogues are not enough for the Duterte regime to claim that they are against contractualization. Without stronger actions from Duterte, these tactics must be dismissed as ploys to deflate the agitation of workers and derail preparations for May 1 protests.

We condemn the transparent attempts of the Duterte regime to feign opposition to contractualization, while in fact doing everything they can to legitimize and institutionalize it. We call on all workers to join the protest during the dialogue on April 16, as well as the major labor sector-led protest march on May 1. Both DOLE and Duterte have consistently obstructed the efforts of workers to end contractualization — it’s now up to all workers to claim victory in the organized mass struggle to fight for our rights.

Workers support moves to resume peace talks —KMU

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) welcomed the news that President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday ordered Peace Secretary Jesus Dureza to resume the stalled peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“The President’s willingness to continue the peace talks is a positive step,” said KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog. “The labor sector is a major stakeholder in this issue, and we have always supported calls to resume peace talks, recognizing the need for broad social, economic, and political reforms to improve the quality of life of all Filipinos.”

The Duterte administration unilaterally terminated the peace talks last November 2017, a move criticized by various groups and sectors in the country, including KMU. NDFP consultant and labor advocate Rafael “Raffy” Baylosis was also arrested on January this year on trumped-up charges.

“In order to demonstrate his sincerity and good faith, we call on the President to release Raffy Baylosis and all other political prisoners immediately,” said Labog.

KMU called on the Duterte administration to uphold and respect existing agreements with the NDFP, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

“The continuing detention of Raffy Baylosis violates those agreements. It is not a good note on which to reopen peace negotiations,” Labog added.

KMU also urged the government to prioritize the drafting of a joint Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reform (CASER) between the GRP and the NDFP.

“CASER is a major step forward in addressing the roots of armed conflict in the country,” Labog said. “Peace is not just a matter of laying down arms. There can be no genuine peace in the Philippines as long as the rights of marginalized Filipinos, especially workers and peasants, are not recognized and protected.”

Workers geared for Boni Day rally vs creeping dictatorship, Duterte’s pro-‘RevGov’ front orgs’ sabotage of Nov 30 protests slammed

Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno are all geared-up for tomorrow’s Bonifacio Day protests against the Duterte government’s fascism, state-terrorism and creeping dictatorship in Mendiola.

“Workers will commemorate the 154th birthday of our working class hero Andres Bonifacio by protesting the fascist Duterte regime’s crackdown of legal organizations and establishment of his US-backed dictatorship either through a revolutionary government, through charter-change or through martial law extension,” Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson for political and external affairs, said.

The national labor center meanwhile condemned the Duterte government’s maneuvers to sabotage the yearly Bonifacio Day protests by mobilizing its “front organizations” to hold a pro-Revolutionary Government rally on November 30 in Mendiola and other venues all over the country where anti-Duterte dictatorship rallies are set to be held.

“We condemn Duterte for mobilizing the front organizations of his terrorist state to sabotage and disrupt our workers’ protests tomorrow. What is even enraging is that this government is using our taxes to fund these pro-RevGov activities in a desperate attempt to cover-up growing protests against his fascist rule by creating an illusion of public clamor for a Duterte dictatorship,” Ustarez said.

KMU also condemned the killing of Karapatan Negros coordinator Elisa Badayos and farmer/ barangay tanod Elioterio Moises who were part of a 30-member fact finding mission team in Bayawan, Negros Oriental yesterday.

“Duterte’s words are being put in action by his death squads. The killing of Badayos and Moises are part of Duterte’s intensified crackdown against critics of his mass murdering regime. This madman of a President’s killing spree will worsen as he establishes himself as a US-backed fascist dictator,” Ustarez said.

Workers prepared a 30 by 14 feet effigy of President Duterte to be burned during tomorrow’s protests. The effigy depicted Duterte as a “BullyDog” handled by “Uncle Sam” which shows how the US-backed Duterte dictatorship uses fascism and state-terrorism to force Filipinos in accepting his anti-worker and anti-poor policies.

On Duterte’s crackdown threat vs BAYAN

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno strongly condemn President Rodrigo Duterte’s vulgar showcase of Marcosian authoritarianism and fascism by threatening to launch a crackdown against Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and its allied organizations. Duterte is acting like his ‘lodi’ Marcos and is bound to establish his own dictatorial rule.

Duterte’s allergy to dissent and criticism can kill workers. With the fascist character of the Duterte regime, such a crackdown order will pave way to gross human rights violations, trumped-up charges, illegal arrests, abductions and mass killings of activists.

It is, in the first place, his tyrannical rule, broken promises and implementation of anti-people policies that has earned him the ire of Filipino workers and people. Instead of heeding their just demands, Duterte has tagged legitimate protests as acts of terror and destabilization to legitimize his establishment of a Marcosian dictatorship through a so-called “revolutionary government”.

Duterte’s crackdown order against BAYAN also a showcases his subservience and puppetry to the United States. It came after US President Donald Trump visited the country to further fortify their military and economic control over the Philippines under their new puppet Duterte.

Duterte and his US masters’ are hell-bent on establishing a fascist dictatorship to quell the Filipino workers’ and people’s growing resistance against the US’ militarist and neoliberal economic dictates. The US is using Duterte as their puppet fascist regime to ensure increased US troop deployment and basing in the country and the secure the profits of US corporations through plunder of our natural resources and promotion of cheap, contractual and repressed labor.

The US-Duterte regime’s intensifying fascist attacks cannot cower Filipino workers and the people. On the contrary, it even makes us more determined to defend ourselves by holding more extensive and intensive protests to resist his fascist and puppet regime. Filipino workers and people have resisted and even toppled down fascist and puppet dictators before. We can do it again.

Trump, greeted with workers’ protest in PH

Filipino workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno greeted US President Donald Trump with a protest at the US Embassy in Manila as he arrive in the Philippines for the ASEAN 2017 Summit.

“Trump’s visit to the Philippines to fortify the neocolonial master and puppet relationship between the US and the Philippine government headed by his fellow fascist warmonger Rodrigo Duterte. Workers want Trump banned in the Philippines! We will hound him with protests until he is kicked-out of our country,” KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog said.

KMU claimed that Trump will meet Duterte to strengthen bilateral agreements such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) which allows increased US troop deployment and basing in the country under the guise of the “war on terror”.

“Increased US troop presence and basing in the country not only violate our sovereignty and patrimony, it also makes us pawns in the US’ wars of aggression against the people of the world. The US has already been using Duterte to act as Trump’s attack dog against the North Korea,” Labog said.

The labor center also insisted that Trump’s visit aims to forge new free trade agreements to further open-up the Philippine economy to the control of big US corporations that would result in the worsening conditions of Filipino workers and people.

“Trump wants to save US corporations from their chronic crisis by starving Filipino workers and people. He is bringing with him new neoliberal economic impositions to keep the Philippines underdeveloped and dependent on their foreign investments. These are the same economic dictates that has subjected our workers to poverty wages, contractual employment and slave-like working conditions,” said Labog.

KMU meanwhile condemned Duterte for his subservience to Trump’s militarist and neoliberal dictates to earn the US’ support for his looming dictatorial rule amidst the growing protests against his tyranny and anti-people policies.

“Despite his anti-US and pseudo-nationalist posturing, Duterte has bowed to the US by embracing Trump’s militarist and neoliberal agenda. He is willing to be a US puppet in desperation to woo Trump’s support for his fascist and pro-big business rule that has rapidly been earning ire and outrage of Filipino workers and people,” Labog said.

On Duterte’s tirades vs our 2-day nationwide transport strike Duterte, front of oligarchs vs. jeepney drivers, workers, poor – KMU

We condemn Mr. Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statement branding national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, transport group PISTON, and human – rights organization Karapatan as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

We say to Mr. Duterte: please stick to the issue! His self-indulged blabbing over the national television, refuses to address the real threat to the livelihood of the country’s jeepney drivers being posed by the Jeepney Phaseout Scheme. He refuses to listen to the jeepney drivers and operators’ legitimate demand and logical reasoning to junk this scheme. Thus, proven himself as front of the oligarchs, such as the Ayalas, Pangilinan, and Cojuangco, who will be raking super profits from this scheme. The same oligarchs whom he handed control over MRT/LRT, express ways, telecommunication, power, and water.

The bluster of his accusation cannot hide his ignorance of the issue at hand. The Jeepney Phaseout Scheme is beyond the reduction of carbon dioxide. It reflects rotten mass transportation system that has long been abandoned by the government. Therefore, more important comprehensive measures should be taken to do this.

The jeepney phaseout scheme is about sacrificing the livelihood of small jeepney drivers at the altar of his build-build-build partners/cronies (Ayalas, Pangilinan, and Cojuangco) and big car manufacturers (Toyota, Mitshubishi, and Chrysler) who want to tighten their control over the country’s transportation system. He is so rabid about upholding big capitalist interests, he shed all pretenses to being pro-masses and said “Mahirap kayo? Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom.Wala akong pakialam.”

Duterte has the mindset of a dictator! When the poor exercise their right to speak up against threats to their livelihood, he brands their actions as “conspiracy” and “rebellion.”

He tries to hide his brazen anti-poor and pro-oligarch stand in this issue by imputing political motives to organizations leading and supporting the jeepney drivers’ struggle for their livelihood.

Duterte tries to show that he is unfazed by the successful two-day transport strike against the Jeepney Phaseout Scheme, yet he is very, very afraid of rising disillusionment and anger towards his regime. He is indeed, hallucinating things.

Branding legal and legitimate workers and peoples’ organizations as fronts of the underground CPP sets up the former for attacks from the military and the entire repressive apparatus of the state.

In accusing these organizations as fronts of the CPP, Duterte is no different from Noynoy Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and all his predecessors. He is truly an admirer of Ferdinand Marcos, who outlawed progressive organizations when he declared Martial Law in 1972.

More strikes vowed after Palace’s refusal to junk phase-out scheme

We, jeepney drivers, operators and commuters strongly condemn Malacañang’s announcement that the government will push through with its anti-poor phase-out scheme amidst the strong rejection of the transport sector, as proven by the 90 per cent participation in our two-day nationwide transport strike. This only forces us to hold more strikes in the next months until the government’s phase-out scheme is junked.

In light of the government’s rejection of our legitimate demands and their desperate moves to harass us with intrigues and threaten us with trumped-up charges, allow us to clarify some points:

First of all, the government has no mass transport modernization plan. The Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines is not a modernization program but a marketing campaign for Toyota, Mitsubishi, the Chrysler-owned Comet E-jeep and other imported vehicles. They are forcing us to buy new units we can’t afford and, using the Filipino people’s taxes, to owe debts we can never repay.

What this government have is a scheme to completely hand-over our country’s mass transport system to the monopoly control of Duterte’s cronies and campaign funders, the Ayalas, the Pangilinans, the Aboitizes and the Cojuangcos, under his Build-Build-Build program. These oligarchs who now hold contracts for the “PUV modernization” through the automated fare collection system, the fleet management scheme and other PUV based infrastructure projects for the OFG, are the same oligarchs that has been awarded contracts for the privatization of other vital public utilities and services under the Build-Build-Build program.

Duterte’s phase-out would result in massive job loss among jeepney drivers and small operators. For commuters, it means an increase in the minimum fare to at least 20 pesos with deregulated succeeding fare hikes and greater burdensome taxes as the government plans to fund the phase-out scheme through Duterte’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

We reiterate that we are for modernization. In fact, PISTON sought a dialogue with President Duterte last July 18 in Malacañang to present our alternative to the jeepney phase-out scheme and our proposal for the modernization and nationalization of our mass transport system. However, Duterte personally rejected our request and instead told us hold a two-month strike first and that he would give us permit.

It is evident that the Duterte government has no intention of heeding the demand of the public transport sector and the riding public. Instead he is hell-bent on ridding us of our livelihood and burdening our commuters and tax payers to favor the interests of Duterte’s big business cronies and foreign auto industry giants.

With this, we conclude our two-day nationwide strike by announcing that we are geared to hold a bigger and more powerful transport strike and people’s protest in the next months. We will not be intimidated by this government’s threats to cancel our franchises and to file trumped-up charges against our leaders. We have nothing left to lose, and only our livelihood and future to gain. ###


Joint Press Statement
16 October 2017

We are on strike!
2-day nationwide transport strike vs Duterte’s jeepney phase-out kicked-off today

Today we go on strike! We, Public Utility Jeepney drivers, operators and commuters, demand that the Duterte government junk its corporate monopoly-driven jeepney phase-out program and instead adopt a modernization program geared towards a nationalized mass transport system that is beneficial to drivers, operators and the riding public.

Duterte’s phase-out scheme through the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines aims to turn our PUJs to another MRT-LRT, a government abandoned mass transport system that has become a milking cow of the monopoly of profit greedy big businesses and corrupt government officials.

The phase-out scheme will displace over a million Filipinos in the PUJ industry, drivers, operators and other PUJ based informal workers. No small operator and driver can come up with over 30 million pesos required capital to purchase new units and apply for a franchise. The government’s much hyped subsidy of 80,000 per unit will only bury us in deep debts we can never repay.

It would also burden our commuters with minimum fares rising up to 20 pesos and deregulated fare hikes through the Ayala owned Beep Automated Fare Collection System. It will also cause gross inconvenience to commuters due to a profit-oriented route rationalization scheme.

Our basis and demands to strike are just and legitimate. We will not be intimidated by the Duterte government’s threats and intrigues to undermine our 2-day nationwide strike against his anti-poor and pro-big business phase-out scheme.

Instead of heeding our demands, the government has been building-up a scenario of “destabilization” to justify their harsh or even violent response towards our just and legitimate demands. Duterte is the one destabilizing himself by implementing anti-people policies that earns him the ire of Filipino workers and people.

Amidst their threats and intrigues slurred by the Duterte government through the DOTr and the LTFRB to pit drivers and operators against commuters, it remains clear that this government is hell-bent on displacing drivers and operators and on burdening commuters to complete the monopoly take-over of our country’s mass transport system by Duterte’s big business cronies, the Ayalas, Pangilinans and Cojuangcos, and foreign auto-industry giants Toyota, Mitsubishi and General Motors.

Day 1 of nationwide transport strike vs jeepney phase-out hits 90% paralyzation

The No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, PISTON and Kilusang Mayo Uno declared a successful first day of the 2-day Nationwide Transport Strike against the Duterte government’s Jeepney Phase-out Scheme by claiming a 90% nationwide paralyzation of jeepney operations across the country.

“The first day of our nationwide transport strike has successfully gathered an overwhelming participation and support of majority of PUJ drivers, operators and commuters. This should serve as a warning to the Duterte government to junk its phase-out scheme and instead adopt a pro-people modernization program that is not geared towards the corporate monopoly take-over of our mass transport system,” George San Mateo, PISTON national president and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition convenor.

The No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition claimed that over 90% or 225,000 out of the estimated 250,000 total number of PUJ units nationwide participated on the first day of the strike. This number has been supported by thousands of commuters and people’s organizations.

“The number of participants in today’s strike debunks the government’s intrigues that only PISTON opposes the phaseout program. Even members of Pasang Masda, ACTO, FEJODAP, 1-UTAK and ALTODAP rejected their leaders and joined the strike. This only proves the broad outrage against the government’s scheme to rid us of our livelihood and burden our commuters for the sake of foreign and local big business profits,” San Mateo added.

National labor center KMU meanwhile slammed the Duterte government for desperately resorting to spreading “fake news” of destabilization to justify the day long harassments against participants of the strikes and the filing of trumped-up charges of economic sabotage against George San Mateo.

“The Duterte government is well aware of the strong rejection among drivers, operators and commuters over their anti-poor phase-out scheme. That is why they desperately spread the fake news of destabilization to justify the harassments against strike participants all over the country and the filing of trumped-up charges against our leaders. But their attempts to quell the protests were in vain,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, said.

KMU also condemned the government for rejecting the demands to junk the phase-out scheme and the implementation of a modernization program geared towards a nationalized mass transport system that is beneficial to drivers, operators and the riding public amidst today’s strike and warned that more strikes and protests will be held until their just and legitimate demands are met.

“Amidst the strong rejection among drivers, operators and commuters expressed today, the Duterte government remains hell-bent on completing the monopoly control of the Ayalas, Pangilinans and Cojuangcos of our mass transport system. Tomorrow, the strike will continue. Duterte also can only expect bigger strikes and protests until he junks his anti-poor phase-out scheme.” Labog said. ###