Arrest try vs. ex-KMU official condemned

PW-rafael-baylosis
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.

Sign SSS pension hike bill now, Aquino told

1

Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Social Security System’s main office in Quezon City this morning to call on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to pass the bill seeking a P2,000 across-the-board increase in pensions that was transmitted to the Office of the President last December 15.

The labor group also called on pensioners in the SSS compound to join a march from Isetann Recto to Mendiola in the morning of January 12, to demand that Aquino sign House Bill 5842 which was filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.

KMU said that since the bill was transmitted to the Office of the President, it can be signed by Aquino into law, or become a law after 30 days of the president’s inaction, or be vetoed by Aquino.

“Aquino further disappointed SSS pensioners and Filipino workers by not signing the bill into law during the Christmas season. His refusal to approve the P2,000 hike in SSS pensions means that we have to hold more actions and make our calls louder,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader called on SSS pensioners and all workers to press for the pension hike, claiming that Aquino may be planning to veto the bill given the chief executive’s refusal to sign it during the Christmas season.

“Why didn’t Aquino sign the bill during the Christmas season, when people were expecting him to do so? Is he planning to veto the bill and preparing his excuse for doing so?” Soluta asked.

He warned Aquino not to stand by the lie, promoted by SSS officials led by SSS President Emilio de Quiros, Jr., that the social security institution does not have the funds to finance the pension hike and not to veto the bill.

He also warned Aquino against claiming that the pension hike would only be possible if another increase in members’ premium contributions is carried out.

“SSS pensioners, workers and all Filipinos won’t believe Aquino if he claims that the SSS does not have the funds for the hike. The SSS does have funds for the pension hike. It will have more than enough funds if it improves its collection efficiency, goes after employers who refuse to remit workers’ contributions, reduces huge bonuses to board members, and reduces administrative costs,” Soluta stated.

New Year layoffs in Henry Sy bank denounced

10624930_1653200828287508_7571816074911675949_n

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the illegal dismissal of 11 employees of Planters Development Bank owned by business tycoon Henry Sy, claiming the company is trying to prevent employees from getting a better Collective Bargaining Agreement and maintaining their union.

The layoff of the messengers and janitors, all members of the Planters Development Bank Employees Association, was deemed effective last December 30 and comes in the heels of the management’s refusal, since September this year, to respond to the union’s proposals in ongoing negotiations for a CBA.

KMU accused the PDB management of sabotaging CBA negotiations until the bank’s merger with China Bank Savings is completed, in order to deny PDB employees of higher wages and benefits and to bust the PDBEA.

“The illegal dismissal of 11 Planters Bank employees on New Year’s eve highlights Contractualization King Henry Sy’s heartlessness towards workers. We consider this an attack not only on the 11 employees and all bank employees, but on all Filipino workers,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said the management’s attacks on Planters Bank employees and the PDBEA may be a signal of another wave of attacks on bank employees, who have been suffering from the implementation of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Circular No. 268, which allows the outsourcing of almost all banking functions, and has allowed layoffs of regular bank employees.

“We are calling on all bank employees, all pro-worker formations, and all workers to condemn the intensifying attacks on Planters Bank employees. The attempt to bust the PDBEA or any union is a prelude to more brutal moves to press down wages, promote contractualization and violate workers’ rights,” Adonis added.

KMU also called on proprietors of Small- and Medium-scale Enterprises investing in the bank, which prides itself as an SME bank, to express to the PDB management their concern for the retrenchment of 11 employees who were holding regular positions and whose average length of service in the company is 20 years.

“We support the 11 employees and the PDBEA in rejecting the management’s offer of a separation package and standing up for employment and their union. Money can’t compensate for this injustice and violation of workers’ rights,” Adonis stated.

The consequence of failing to deliver: On Aquino’s vow to be run over by a train

president-aquino-dotc-abaya
Filipinos are talking about Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s infamous promise: if the LRT-1 Cavite Extension Project is not concluded within the year, he will go and stand in front of a moving train. The deadline is almost up, and through social media, citizens are reminding the chief executive of his promise. Their reminder has become too loud that Malacañang was forced to respond.

As many astute observers have commented, Aquino sealed the promise by invoking the good lessons that his parents taught him. Malacañang decries that the promise must not be taken literally; however, that does not mean it should not be taken seriously.

Filipinos are talking about the promise not because they think that the president will literally let himself be run over by a train. Their anger is not particular to the LRT-1 Cavite Extension Project. Rather, it is merely symptomatic of widespread dissatisfaction and anger regarding the MRT-LRT-PNR in general, and even the whole public transportation system, all of which got worse under Aquino.

Filipinos are critical and angry towards Aquino’s bold promises – in this area among many other fields of governance – and after six years, his massive failure to deliver.

The deaths of his mother and father were mourned by many Filipinos. Aquino is ending his term with Filipinos anticipating his being run over by a train. Literal or not, the message is clear: Filipinos long to be rid of Aquino, and this time, without even a trace of mourning.

Under Aquino’s presidency, ordinary citizens have been brutally sideswiped by his Daang Matuwid; now, they rightfully demand Aquino’s turn to suffer the consequences.

Poverty threshold is ‘statistical magic trick,’ wages in 2015 still inadequate – KMU

535167_1651217661819158_1337650976560132254_n
In a statement dated December 22, the Labor Department said Central Luzon will increase wages by P15-P20 per day starting January 1 and will bring the highest minimum wage in the region to P364, which is higher than the P248 poverty threshold in the region for a family of five.

With this, the Labor Department claimed that in 2015, for the first time in history, Filipino workers are enjoying wages above the poverty threshold. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz even said that “This is a victory not only for all Filipino workers, but for all Filipinos.”

The so-called “poverty threshold” is one of the Aquino government’s statistical magic tricks to make it appear that it has lifted workers out of poverty and has reduced the number of Filipinos living in poverty. It does not mean an improvement in the lives of workers and their families.

Instead of actually, or significantly, increasing wages, the Aquino government invented a very low standard for measuring wages so that it could make the false claim that the condition of workers has improved. The Central Luzon poverty threshold of P248 for a family, or P49.60 for an individual, is most insulting and revolting for workers of the region and the entire country.

We reject the poverty threshold as a standard for measuring wages. It is pathetically low, its attainment does not mean an improvement in the lives of workers and their families. It does not even mean that they got some immediate relief from the soaring prices of basic goods and payments for basic services.

The poverty threshold is a result of the Aquino government’s objective of reducing the number of poor Filipinos in paper. What we want is a return to the living wage as a standard, which is part of workers’ and Filipinos’ struggle to actually reduce the number of poor Filipinos.

Instead of the poverty threshold, we support independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s computation of the Family Living Wage, which was carried out before by the National Wages and Productivity Commission. In July 2015, Ibon estimated that the FLW was already at P1,086.

Using Ibon’s FLW as a standard, Filipino workers today are worse off than they were years ago. In 2001, the minimum wage was 50 percent of the FLW. Now, the Metro Manila minimum wage of P481, the highest in the country, is only 44 percent of the FLW. Because of soaring prices and meager wage hikes, the gap between the minimum wage and the FLW has increased.

We continue to demand a P125 across-the-board wage hike for Filipino workers. What we want is a significant wage hike that will bring the minimum wage closer to the living wage, and will correct the meager wage hikes that were approved for decades. This is the kind of wage increase that will give workers immediate relief.

We continue to demand the implementation of a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P750 for private-sector workers. We want an end to the unjust and extremely exploitative regionalized wage setting currently being implemented in the country.

2016 budget, fund for bad policies, corruption

PRESIDENT AQUINO SIGNS P3T NATIONAL BUDGET/ DECEMBER 22, 2015 President Benigno S. Aquino III signs into law Republic Act No. 10717, the P3.002-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, during the Presidential Enactment Ceremony at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (December 22, 2015). Witnessing the ceremony are Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and members of the House of Representatives and Senate, Cabinet Members, Diplomatic Corps, Business development Partners, 4P’s beneficiaries and other guests.  INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDO

(1) Pres. Noynoy Aquino calls the 2016 national budget “historic,” but it is still a budget for bad policies and for corruption and patronage. Passing a national budget before the year ends is not proof that national coffers are not being plundered. Public funds are still not being spent for the Filipino workers and people.

(2) Aquino tries to score propaganda points by accusing his predecessor of reenacting national budgets in order to pocket public funds. Yet he has failed to back these allegations up with charges and to secure a conviction despite being president for five years. We dare him: file more corruption charges against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to the national budgets passed under her term.

(3) The P436.5-billion budget for the DepEd is allotted to the implementation of the K+12 program, which aims to produce cheap and repressed Filipino labor and deny the majority of Filipino youth a chance to go to college.

The P400.4-billion budget for the DPWH and a segment of the DILG budget will surely go to corruption and patronage in connection with the 2016 national elections. All over Metro Manila, for example, roads that were in fine condition have been destroyed and repaired so that politicians can get their kickbacks. Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation has earlier warned that mechanisms similar to the DAP, responsible for increasing presidential pork, are retained in the proposed budget and that other pork barrel funds have been increased.

The P241.75 billion allotted to the DND and DILG will surely be pocketed by top military and police officials and be used to fund the implementation of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. The counter-insurgency plan has meant the militarization of the countryside, especially in Mindanao, the extra-judicial killings and illegal arrest and detention of activists, and other human rights violations.

Ibon has also warned the public of the existence of no less than P65.9 billion funds for projects under the Public-Private Partnership program. A big segment of the fund will be subsidies for the profits of Aquino’s cronies, the big capitalists who are beneficiaries of the PPP program.

Instead of implementing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization in order to create decent jobs, Aquino is allotting P62.7 billion for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) conditional cash transfer program. The 4Ps is a palliative that won’t solve widespread joblessness, landlessness, poverty and hunger in the country.

(4) We condemn Aquino for ignoring the calls of government employees for a significant wage hike and of SSS pensioners for a pension hike. The 2016 national budget does not contain allocation for a significant increase in the monthly pay of government employees. Aquino signed the national budget into law but refuses to sign House Bill 5842, which was filed by Cong. Neri Colmenares and seeks a P2,000 across-the-board hike in pensioners of the SSS.

New WTO pact on ICT condemned by PH workers

Industries copy
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the approval, in the ongoing 10th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization in Nairobi, Kenya, of a new agreement that is set to eliminate tariffs on new Information and Communication Technology products.

The labor group said the approval of the Information Technology Agreement II, which expands the coverage of a previous agreement signed in 1996, means the further destruction of the country’s potential to manufacture ICT products, loss of revenues for the government, and deterioration of working conditions for the country’s electronics workers.

The ITA II, which includes the Philippines and was nearly stalled by China’s refusal to lower its tariffs, binds members to “cut 65 percent of their tariff lines down to zero duty upon the July 2016 entry into force, representing about 88 percent of imports of the covered products,” according to the WTO.

“We are not dazzled by the prospect of new electronic gadgets being dumped into the country. It’s the big foreign capitalists who will benefit from this new agreement, to the detriment of the country’s manufacturing capacity, the government’s revenues, and the country’s workers,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said the country’s experience with the first ITA shows that trade liberalization in electronic products has not meant the bridging of the technological divide within the country, nor between the Philippines and advanced capitalist countries.

“The availability of electronic products has not meant the bridging of the technological divide. The divide was built upon, and further aggravates, the class divide within the country and the development divide between underdeveloped countries like the Philippines and developed countries,” said Labog.

KMU said most factories of the country’s electronics sector are located within export-processing zones, where wages are pressed down even below the legally-mandated minimum, the overwhelming majority of workers are contractuals, and unionized workers are a tiny minority.

“The Philippines’ experience shows that trade liberalization in electronics has only intensified countries’ race to the bottom, to the lowest wages and basest working conditions, in order to attract investors. Many workers making the most advanced electronic products labor under some of the most backward working conditions,” said Labog.

The labor group said the Philippine government should have junked the ITA II, used tariffs strategically in order to build its manufacturing capacity in the ICT sector, and protected workers’ rights in the sector.

Aquino will be remembered as anti-OFW – KMU

 

12360088_1647062795567978_8745611595386640722_n
Marking International Migrants’ Day with a march to Mendiola together with other progressive organizations this morning, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said Pres. Noynoy Aquino will go down in history as a president who’s against Overseas Filipino Workers.

The labor group said the chief executive, whose mother popularized the term “bagong bayani (modern-day heroes)” to refer to OFWs and institutionalized labor export as government policy, presided over the worst jobs crisis in history and carried out numerous attacks on the rights of OFWs.

KMU said that in 2015 alone, controversies surrounding the tanim-bala scam, the policy of opening up balikbayan boxes, and the government’s delayed action on the case of Mary Jane Veloso highlight Aquino’s criminal record with regard to the plight of Filipino migrant workers.

“Workers and all Filipinos have every reason to tag Aquino as an anti-OFW president and to remember him as such. He has intensified the government’s labor export policy while ignoring migrants’ welfare and even attacking their rights,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s claim that with 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed, the country is seeing the most number of jobless Filipinos in history.

He also cited Migrante International’s claim, based on data from the Labor Department and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, that OFW deployment increased from 4,018 per day in 2010 to 5,054 per day in 2015.

“Despite enjoying the effects of OFW remittances to the economy, Aquino has lent minimal support to OFWs on death row and in jail and to stranded OFWs and has failed to curb illegal recruitment and human trafficking. He is trying to increase exactions imposed on OFWs even as he fails to protect OFWs’ rights and welfare,” Adonis added.

KMU also said that the return of many OFWs to the country is not the result of so-called “inclusive growth” in the country but of the effects of the continuing Global Financial and Economic Crisis which has brought about anti-migrant employment policies and civil unrest in receiving countries.

On the big drop in Aquino’s SWS survey rating

12375959_1647062498901341_4118155302908704656_n
It is important to pay attention to the nine-percentage drop, according to the Social Weather Stations, in Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s satisfaction rating from +41 in September to +32 this December.

The significant drop occurred without a major scandal rocking the Aquino government. Politicking for the 2016 elections has only reminded people of what Aquino promised during the 2010 elections and how these promises remain unfulfilled on the eve of another election.

Presidentiable Mar Roxas’ constant invocation of “daang matuwid,” as if this could deliver votes for him, could only force Filipinos to ask whether they are better off now than they were five years ago. The SWS survey shows that for many Filipinos, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Amidst widespread joblessness and landlessness, Filipinos know that life has only worsened and the economy hasn’t improved after five years. The heavy traffic and the legion of homeless in Metro Manila further confirm for many people the dismal state of the country’s economy.

Filipinos are waking up to the realization that Aquino served up only spectacles during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in the country last November. They know that Aquino was not able to present actual proof, or even the prospect, of genuine economic growth under his term.

Aquino would surely respond to this survey and to Filipinos’ growing anger at him with more lies. He would only show how he depended on lying to get himself elected and to maintain himself in power.

The December 2015 SWS survey is another indication that Aquino will end his term in infamy. Calls to make him accountable for his grave crimes to the Filipino workers and people are bound to become louder.

KMU to Aquino: sign SSS pension hike bill now!

12392067_1646536905620567_7442500729824668793_n
After House Speaker Sonny Belmonte forwarded the bill seeking a P2,000 across-the-board pension hike for Social Security System retirees to the Office of the President, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on Pres. Noynoy Aquino today to immediately sign the bill.

The labor group said the pension hike would make SSS pensioners’ Christmas a little merrier, because the measure is long overdue and is badly needed by SSS pensioners who want to buy more food and comply more with their medication.

Dapat matagal na itong inaprubahan, pero inabot na ng Pasko (This should have been approved a long time ago but has even reached Christmastime). Aquino should lessen being the Christmas Grinch and immediately sign this bill into law,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said it’s high time that House Bill 5842 filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares is signed into law and somehow remedy the embarrassingly low SSS pensions which have not been altered since 1997.

“Aquino would surely earn the ire of SSS pensioners, of workers and of the public if he simply allows 30 days to pass so that the bill will be considered approved. We will all consider it an outrage if he vetoes the bill outright for whatever reason,” Labog added.

KMU said Aquino has no reason to veto the bill because the SSS and the government have the funds to finance the pension hike and do not need to impose another round of premium hike before increasing pensions.

“The SSS has the funds for the pension hike. It will have more than enough funds if it improves its collection efficiency, goes after employers who refuse to remit workers’ contributions, reduces huge bonuses to board members, and reduces administrative costs,” Labog said.

KMU is calling on all SSS pensioners, all workers, and the public to maximize Facebook and all forms of social media to speak up for the pension hike until pensioners actually receive the increase.