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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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.

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.

Protests held in SSS offices nationwide

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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!

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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.