Friday, August 29, 2014

Despite growth, labor underscores systemic failure in rising inequality

Press Release
August 29, 2014

Exclusive growth for exclusive group of wealthiest businessmen. 
This is how Partido Manggagawa (PM) reacted to the twin reports that came out the other day. The party reiterated its position that “walang naituwid, walang naitawid,” as the economy remained systemically non-inclusive.
The first report came from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), announcing the 6.4 percent growth posted by the Philippine economy during the second quarter.  This growth rate, according to the government, is considered to be the best performing in Southeast Asia.
The second report is an updated list of 50 wealthiest Filipinos released by Forbes Magazine which showed their combined wealth rising by 12 percent from $68.5-B in 2013 to $74-B this year.
In a press statement Thursday, Forbes Magazine said this year’s list reflected two driving forces of the Philippine economy: construction and consumption.  This jibes with the PSA findings which show consumption, propped up by the steady growth of OFW remittances, as the main driving force of the Philippine economy.
According to PM, the Philippines’ richest capitalists control the economy in an oligopolistic manner.  They own the industry, the banks, real property, the highways, the biggest media networks, as well as the privatized essential services like power and water.
PM chair Renato Magtubo said, “Growth, however fast and vast it is, makes no difference if it lurks in exclusivity for the country’s 1% while the 99% remain at the corners of terminal marginality.”
Magtubo said today’s growth remains jobless and in fact, an offensive narrative amid high prices of basic goods and services. 
According to PM, the country’s unemployment rate hardly changed from 7.1 percent in 2010 to 7% in April this year.  The same with underemployment, from 19.6 percent to 19 percent.  This unemployment figure is even worse if we compare it to the 1986 rate of 6.7 percent or the 5.2 percent in 1976.
So where did this GDP growth go? PM disclosed that the combined net worth of the richest 10 of the more than doubled since 2006. Henry Sy’s fortune alone for instance climbed by 217 percent from $4-B in 2006 to $12.7-B in 2014; Lucio Tan to $6.10-B from $2.3-B or 165 percent;  and John Gokongwei to US$4.9-B from US$700 million or 600 percent.
At the other end, workers’ real wage remained at starvation level, increasing only by 41% from Php258 per day in 2006 to Php363 in 2013.
In contrast the combined wealth of the richest 50 amounting to Php3.24 trillion is equivalent to a one year income of 26 million minimum wage earners.
Unfortunately only half the country’s employed persons are wage and salaried workers. The other half live on own account or self-employed.
Magtubo said these talks about economic cha-cha, term extension, impeachment, and the early onset of 2016 elections have overshadowed the discourse on inequality which workers believed is equally important if not more fundamental than issues of good governance. 
“In fact even in governance, the political side of inequality is even more pronounced with the three main branches of government ruled by multimillionaires,” added Magtubo.
The group said exposing, educating and mobilizing workers against this evil shall be its priority as the party believes that this is where the past and present trapo rulers perpetually fail. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Personal grudge nor personal ambition can’t justify term extension – labor group

14 August 2014

Seeking a prohibited term extension out of personal bitterness against the Supreme Court would be erroneous if not a fatal political move for the sitting President, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement. 

President Aquino the other day made it categorical that he is considering a second term via a constitutional amendment, purportedly to check on the powers of the Supreme Court which he claimed exercise restraint “more often” against the co-equal branches of the government.

The group likewise disclosed, based on reliable sources, that a broad movement aligned to the cause of extending the “tuwid na daan” will be launched soon to create an artificial clamor for continuing reforms and at the opportune moment PNoy will make a major announcement that he has listened to his “bosses” to finally seek a term extension.

This is the nth time PNoy vented his outburst against the Supreme Court after the latter declared his Disbursement Accelelartion Program (DAP) unconstitutional. 

But for PM, pushing a personal political agenda out of personal grudge against the justices won’t justify a still non apparent social objective of reforming the entire political system.  

“We, too, do not believe that the ‘Lords of Faura’ holds the paragon of righteousness in this country.  They are dressed in robes, as crook lawmakers are also clad in barongs, to cover their sins and partiality to the ruling class. Yet cleansing the whole system does not necessarily require having a second term. This is more the task of a revolutionary government, a power that his mother failed to exercise correctly in 1986,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

Magtubo said workers have always been victims of delayed justice and unjust court rulings.  And similarly the two other branches of government consciously take the side of the capitalist class. 

“This situation did not change under PNoy’s term.  For the past four years wala pang naitutuwid, wala pang naitatawid,” declared the group.

PM said workers have more bad things to say about the country’s rotten political and economic system.  But they will neither look at the term extension nor the plan to amend the Constitution based on personal desires of few persons and big corporations as a sound option,” said Magtubo.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Workers join counter-SONA rally to slam inequality despite growth

Press Release
July 28, 2014

Workers led by the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), the fighting union Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) and the labor coalition Nagkaisa joined the counter-SONA rally this afternoon. The workers contingent merged with the mobilization of groups Freedom from Debt Coalition and Kontra Pork that marched along Commonwealth Ave. from Tandang Sora at 1:00 p.m. to the Batasang Pambansa. PM chapters in Cebu, Bacolod, Davao and General Santos City held similar actions today.

PM slammed government policies that exacerbated social inequality amidst economic growth. “PNoy’s inclusive growth is rhetoric without results, just like ‘daang matuwid’ that has been exposed as a myth by the persistence of pork barrel and the controversial DAP,” asserted Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

As proof of growing inequality, Wilson Fortaleza pointed to the undiminished number of jobless Filipinos in contrast to the inflation in wealth of the rich under the five years of the Aquino administration. “In January 2010, unemployment and underemployment rates were 7.3% and 19.7% respectively and they basically remained unchanged at 7.5% and 19.5% in January of this year. Meanwhile the wealth of Henry Sy, the richest Filipino, ballooned from USD5 billion in 2010, when Aquino came in, to USD11.4 billion this year according to Forbes,” he elaborated.

“How can there be inclusive growth when PNoy allows contractualization to run rampant and the prices of basic commodities and services like rice and electricity to rise unregulated?,” Fortaleza argued.

PM also called for a citizen’s audit of the DAP to investigate any anomalies and patronage in the disbursement of the billions in people’s money and workers taxes.

PM members brought makeshift cutouts of the number “5” to symbolize inaction on worker demands for the last five years. The raised by the group rallyists include: “Ika 5 taong SONA ni PNoy: Busabos pa rin ang Boss!” and Sa 5 SONA ni PNoy: Walang naituwid na patakaran, Walang naitawid mula sa kahirapan!”

Mga manggagawa, lalahok sa kontra-SONA rally para batikusin ang inekwalidad sa gitna ng pag-unlad

Press Release
July 28, 2014

Lalahok ang mga manggagawa sa pangunguna ng Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), unyong PALEA at ang koalisyong Nagkaisa sa kontra-SONA rally ng mga grupo mamayang hapon. Magmamartsa sila mula sa Tandang Sora hanggang Batasang Pambansa simula ng ala una ng hapon. Ang chapters ng PM sa Cebu, Negros, Davao at General Santos City ay magkakaroon din ng kahalintulad na pagkilos.

Planong batikusin ng grupong PM ang pananatili ng ekwalidad sa kabila ng ipinagmamalaki ng administrasyong Aquino na pag-unlad ng ekonomiya. “Puro salita at walang gawa ang islogan ni PNoy na inclusive growth. Paano matitikman ng mga manggagawa ang kaunlaran kung ayaw ni PNoy na tutulan ang kontraktwalisasyon at hinayaan lang ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin at mga gastusin gaya ng kuryente,” paliwanag ni Wilson Fortaleza, tagapagsalita ng PM.

Kaugnay ng kontrobersyal na DAP, panawagan ng grupong PM na maglunsad ng special audit sa mga pinaglalaan ng pondo sa pamamagitan ng isang independent people’s commission kasama ng COA.

Magdadala ang mga miyembro ng grupong PM ng mga cardboard na numerong “5” upang maging simbolo ng limang taong kawalang aksyon ng administrasyon ni Aquino sa mga kahilingan ng manggagawa. “Sa ika-5  SONA ni PNoy, busabos pa rin ang mga boss. Sa ika-5 SONA ni PNoy, walang naituwid na patakaran at walang naitawid mula sa kahirapan,” pagdidiin ni Fortaleza.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Labor group seeks special audit for DAP

4 July 2014

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today added its voice to the mounting call to have the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) subjected to a special audit after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

PM said MalacaƱang’s defense that there was nothing wrong in it since it was done in good faith is flatly self-serving as DAP’s worth needs to be proven beyond the realm of motives or intentions.

Likewise the claim that DAP boasted our economic growth is even more fallacious.

“We leave the legal issues to lawyers, the moral intentions to priests, and the political flavor of it, for a while, to rival politicians.  Our main and immediate interest here is to know whether DAP money had gone in the same manner PDAF had been squandered,” stated PM chairperson Renato Magtubo.

Magtubo said the political context when DAP was concocted and eventually released has overly been discussed. “What we want to know now is whether a DAP released to a lawmaker’s left hand is better spent than a PDAF released to his/her right hand.”

The former partylist representative said a special audit for used and unused DAP funds may either clear many issues or uncover the same pattern of fraud committed under PDAF. Or may be worse.

“Assuming the crime was repeated, the political discussion should therefore lead to a conclusion that the whole system is terribly wrong,” said Magtubo.

The group believes that funds released under DAP and received by the same hands that made PDAF their personal piggy banks are tainted with corruption. Thus the need for a special audit, perhaps deeper and wider than the audit made on PDAF. 

At the height of the pork barrel scam PM had pushed for, as part of reforms in the budget system, the concept of a universal social protection fund with a clearly defined social purpose yet completely isolated from the hands of corrupt politicians.