Wednesday, December 17, 2008
December 17, 2008
The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) in Cebu said that in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ), employers axed 4,000 jobs and shortened workdays for 27,000 workers in the last quarter of this year. The group warned that the attacks on living and working conditions would intensify as global crisis deepens next year but also predicted that workers would resist and fight.
More than 200 MEPZ workers gathered yesterday afternoon at Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City to establish the Save the Workers Initiative in Mepz or SWIM. As an organization that embraces both unionized and non-unionized workers, SWIM aims principally to campaign for a bail-out scheme for workers affected by the crisis. “In the midst of the global crisis, if the workers don’t swim then they would sink,” said Dennis Derige, Spokesperson of PM-Cebu.
PM revealed that employers in the electronics, garments and furniture industries are in the forefront of reducing the work force and the working days. The group mentioned as examples the factories Lear, Taiyu-Den, Exas, Toyo-Flex, Maithland Smith, Altamode, KH, PPIC, POIC and GIC. Workers in car parts manufacturing and even call centers such as IZUMI and Western Wats also suffered the same problems.
The group also said that in Mandaue City 600 workers lost their jobs while 700 were affected by forced leaves, rotations and shortened workdays. PM cited Giardini Del Sole, COSONSA, Arkaine, Neostone, President Marine and Energizer as cases in point.
Resort workers in Lapu-Lapu City are also feeling the brunt of the crisis as their workdays were cut down to 4 or 5 days a week. PM said that it is a sign that Cebu’s tourism industry is careening towards trouble.
“These figures are an underestimation since it is limited by our organizational reach and chapter reports. We must access the data of DOLE –Region 7 for the past three months to see the more complete picture,” Derige explained.
PM also noted that some companies in MEPZ did not follow procedures and standards in terminating employees as stipulated in the Labor Code. The required 30 days notice prior to termination were not observed; a blackmail scheme of “resign or retrench” were resorted to in order that employers could evade paying separation benefits in the amount of half month per year of service; and regular workers were laid off while a huge force of agency workers were maintained. “The workers are being killed twice! First, we are being forced to bear the crisis that is not of our own making, stripping us of our right to live. Second, and this angers us the most, capitalists are using the crisis as an excuse to violate labor standards and labor rights, stripping us of what is due to us and greedily pocketing them as bigger profits,” lamented Derige.
However, PM also observed that the workers are not taking these attacks sitting down. Workers in MEPZ are beginning to discuss in their canteens, workplaces and communities the courses of action to be taken. “We have monitored a 20% rise in the number of labor cases filed before the National Labor Relations Commission–RAB 7. We also noticed a barrage of labor standard–related inquiries by the workers at the office of DOLE–Region 7. Soon this will erupt into a formidable movement pushing for the workers alternative solution to the crisis,” asserted Greg Janginon, President of PM–Cebu.
Besides calling on the government for bailout measures for workers, the objectives of SWIM are:
1. Serve as a watch-dog on employers’ abuses and violations of labor standards and labor relations;
2. Organize MEPZ workers in a common fight against the attacks on living and working conditions;
3. Educate the workers on existing labor laws;
4. Provide legal assistance; and
5. Call for system change as the long term solution to the crisis.
Lucena Sellar, a worker from MEPZ states that “Government should do its job of saving the workers. Workers have faithfully financed the government through taxes, now it is time for the state help the workers through subsidies, tax rebates and a massive public employment program.”
PM criticized DOLE’s program for the affected workers as “not enough and too bureaucratic.” The group argued that the Workers’ Income-Augmentation Program (WIN-AP) is limited only to unionized workers who still have jobs while the Assistance Measure Program or (AMP) for displaced workers is so slow that upon the release of the assistance funds, the affected workers and their families are already starving to death. Also the PhP 5,000 livelihood assistance per displaced worker is full of conditions and is almost inaccessible to an unorganized worker. Furthermore, AMP has an allotment of PhP 1 million so that only 200 workers can avail of the said program.
“The company which I’m working with right now has 11,000 workers. If our company goes bankrupt then DOLE’s program is too insufficient. What we need is a major redirection of government’s budget appropriation from debt servicing to social services,” Sellar emphasized.
December 17, 2008
Some 200 members of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) joined the farmers’ mobilization on the last day of session of Congress to back the demand for an extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The groups carried placards with the messages “Lupa, Trabaho, Pagkain Hindi Cha-Cha,” “CARP Extension Hindi Term Extension,” and “Maralita Magkaisa, Baguhin ang Sistema.”
“The urban poor and the rural farmers are brothers and sisters in the struggle for agrarian reform. An alliance between the urban and rural poor is necessary not just to push for social justice but also social change. A one-two punch by the workers and farmers will provide the knock-out blow against the rotten system and pave the way for social reform,” stated Jess Panis, spokesperson of AMP.
He added that “The urban poor does not support the so-called genuine agrarian reform bill because it is a right demand but at the wrong place and the wrong time. Pushing for it now objectively puts its proponents in alliance with the landlords that oppose agrarian reform. Its proper venue is a revolutionary government not the reactionary Congress.”
PM supports the peasants’ campaign for a continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The group is also demanding that Congress and Malacanang enact a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor. Panis identified the package as “The SSS, GSIS and OWWA must subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and OFW’s who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they find a new job up to a maximum of 6 months. Government must also declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage. And a public employment program must be established for the four million unemployed Filipinos.”
Fact Sheet and Timeline
Parties to the dispute: Wesleyan University-Philippines owned by the United Methodist Church of the Philippines and located at Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija (a provincial city to the north of Metro Manila). Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN). The union president is Corazon Gonzales and can be reached at email@example.com
29 May 2006: Union submits CBA proposal
June to Nov 2006: No movement in negotiations. University board of trustees rejects some economic demands of the union
22 Sept 2006: Union president receives memo re serious misconduct complaint by 12 students and in the same day is handed down a preventive suspension for 30 days
Union president is subsequently dismissed. Union charges that suspension violates CBA provisions on job security and union security, and even the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools. Union alleges harassment
1 Oct 2006: Union files a case for unfair labor practice at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB)
3, 4, 20 Oct 2006: Eleven of twelve accusers successively retract their complaints. In their retraction students say the complaint was merely orchestrated by the lone remaining complainant who is a live in partner of a friend of the University legal counsel
2 Nov 2006: Union files a case for CBA deadlock at NCMB
23 Nov 2006: Union files a notice of strike
30 Nov 2006: Office of the Secretary of Labor assumes jurisdiction (AJ) of labor dispute
2 July 2007: Protest rally by the union on University’s 61st foundation day. Marching band played mournful songs while union members protested outside University campus
28 Jan 2008: University files cases vs. union president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, auditor, pro and spokesperson for violation of AJ order on the basis of the protest rally of 2 July 2007. This is two days before a scheduled local union election. Union alleges harassment and union busting
19, 20 Feb 2008: University recommends union officers be found guilty of violating AJ
3 Jan 2008: Office of the Labor Secretary decides on the labor dispute. Orders the following:
Execute a CBA for the period 1 June 2006-31 May 2008
Dismisses union complaint re unfair labor practice for refusal to bargain
Finds University guilty of union busting
Invalidates preventive suspension and dismissal of union president
Reinstates union president with full back wages and benefits
“We need not overstretch our imagination too that the acts of the University that we invalidated here were undertaken to cripple the Union’s representation at bargaining. On the whole, the totality of the University’s acts sufficiently shows the University’s interference with or restraint on the employees’ exercise on their right to self-organization.”
15 Jan 2008: University files motion for reconsideration on the 3 January 2008 decision. Starts a series of pleadings from both parties
7 Oct 2008: Office of the Labor Secretary issues an Omnibus Resolution on the all the cases arising from the labor dispute. The decision of 3 January 2008 is affirmed.
University has filed a petition for review of the Omnibus Resolution at Court of Appeals. Case is still pending.
29 Oct 2008: University holds a “peace and development seminar” for employees. Sgt. Edgar Dimalanta of the Civil Affairs Office of the 71st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army says that union can suffer the same bloody fate as the Hacienda Luisita workers if they insist on presence of the union president in the CBA negotiations. He also declares that the military has received reports the union is infiltrated by communist guerillas
25 Nov 2008: Sgt. Dimalanta tells the union vice-president that military men will visit their homes after the latter refused the former’s invitation to meet the union executive committee
2 Dec 2008: Union files complaint at the Commission on Human Rights against the Armed Forces of the Philippines for harassment
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
December 16, 2008
A hundred displaced workers of a closed factory in the export processing zone in Rosario, Cavite picketed the offices of the Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority (PEZA) administrator around 2 p.m. today despite a ban on protest actions inside the compound. The workers were demanding that their union be consulted on the disbursement by the PEZA of PhP 1.69 million in money claims.
A momentary scuffle occured when PEZA guards unsuccessfully tried taking away the workers placards. However the workers were able to maintain the picket inside the PEZA compound while another group protested outside the gates. After a dialogue with the PEZA administrator, the union got its demand to be consulted.
The amount was the proceeds from the sale of the assets of the Sapphire Phils. garments factory that unceremoniously shutdown last January 15, 2007. According to Marites Manjares, union president of Sapphire Phils., “There were 300 workers when our factory closed down. But the PEZA masterlist ballooned to more than double with 640 names. This is new case of dagdag-bawas (addition-subtraction). The added names will result in lesser claims to be received by legitimate worker beneficiaries.”
“When the Korean owner of Sapphire Phils. suddenly left the country, the factory shutdown without the required 30 days notice and without giving any separation pay to the workers. Thus we filed a case at the Department of Labor for illegal closure and money claims. Now that the PEZA has sold the assets of the company, we want them to talk and coordinate with the union so that legitimate beneficiaries receive what is due them,” insisted Manjares.
The Rosario Workers Association and the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) supported the picket of the Sapphire Phils. workers. Dennis Sequenia, chairperson of PM-Cavite declared, “In Chicago, USA workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors when the factory closed without the necessary notice and without the required separation pay. They got their demands after six days of occupying the plant and winning even the support of President-elect Barack Obama. The Sapphire Phils. case is no different though the workers are not asking for the support of President Gloria Arroyo but simply that they not be prohibited from holding their protest action.”
“Labor discontent is simmering at the export zone as the global crisis impacts thousands of workers with layoffs and rotations, reduced hours and reduced pay. Today it is a picket at the PEZA office. Tomorrow it may be an occupation of a factory inside PEZA,” warned Sequenia.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Armando Robles, UE Local 1110 President
and the Workers of Republic Windows and Doors
Greetings of solidarity!
On behalf of the working class of the Philippines, the Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines) expresses its support for the struggle of the Republic workers and extends its congratulations to your victorious fight. Your militant struggle is a shining example to the workers of the world of how to fight and how to win in the period of globalization and in the context of the crisis.
The particular case of Republic Windows and Doors reveals in stark contrasts the gross inequities and double standard of the system. The workers are being made to bear the burden of resolving the crisis that is not of their own making. The innocent masses are being punished for the crimes of a few. Corporate losses are socialized but profits remain privatized.
Truly the workers can only depend upon our own movement and our own struggle to protect and advance our common interests. You have rediscovered for a new generation of US workers the value of the sit down strike and direct action that in the 1930’s resulted in the greatest gains in unionization, wages and job security in American history. Your successful fight is an inspiration not just for fellow workers in the US but for all workers anywhere in the world.
In the Philippines, the initial impact of the global economic crisis is already being felt in the export-oriented factories whose clients are in the US, Japan and Europe. Permanent closures, temporary shutdowns and work rotation have in the last four months affected thousands of garments, electronics and furniture workers. These retrenchments and rotations are the herald of the grave unemployment that will result when the global recession reaches maturity and fully impacts the Philippines.
Thus the workers in the Philippines, through the Partido ng Manggagawa, are campaigning for economic relief in the face of the economic calamity in the form of a bailout of the poor not the rich. This means a subsidy for laid off workers until they can find new jobs, a tax refund for all workers amounting to two months pay and a public employment program for the four million unemployed Filipinos. Beyond these immediate issues, we are also pushing longer term demands, among them is reopening closed factories through confiscation if necessary.
Workers in the Philippines and in America are brothers and sisters in struggle. Ironically this is partly due to the legacy of US occupation of the Philippines. Likewise, Filipinos and Latinos share a cultural heritage rooted in Spanish colonialism. But more than that, under globalization, all workers now have the same problems—low wages, insecure jobs, part-time work, loss of benefits, deteriorating services, labor repression, vanishing health and pension plans, etc.
Workers are being forced by the capitalists to compete with workers in other countries in a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions. Instead the workers of the world must link up in arms in solidarity to lift ourselves out of poverty and destitution.
The story of the fight and victory of the Republic workers has not broken through the corporate controlled mainstream media in the Philippines. But through the labor press and mass meetings, we will report your successful fight to the workers in the Philippines for they have lessons to learn from it. And when the workers of the Philippines recapture the tradition of our militant unionism of the 1980’s, then we can share the lessons of our own experiences too to the workers of the US and the world.
For labor solidarity,
Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa
President, Fortune Tobacco Labor Union
Vice-Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa
President, Philippine Airlines Employees Association
December 8, 2008
The national federation of teaching, culture and vocational training, Fédération Nationale de l’Enseignement, de la Culture et de la Formation Professionnelle, de la Confédération Générale du Travail - Force Ouvrière (FNEC FP-FO), affiliated to the CGT- Force Ouvrière confederation, has been informed of the alarming situation prevailing at Nueva Ecija Universty in the Philippines.
In a press conference, the Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN) denounced the interference and harassment by the military in their labor dispute.
According to WUPFSA-LAGMAN, a certain Sgt. Edgar Dimalanta of the Civil Affairs Office of the 71st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has been issuing veiled threats, and pressuring union officers and even some union members to force them to sit down with him for a meeting he had convened.
In a recent incident last November 25, Sgt. Dimalanta told Engr. Melquiades Guevarra, the union vice-president, that military men will visit them in their homes after the latter refused the former's invitation to meet the union executive committee.
Corazon Gonzalez, President of the Union declared: "The circumstances clearly show that Sgt. Dimalanta is being used by the university administration headed by Atty. Guillermo T. Maglaya in his effort to bust the union and sabotage negotiations for a collective agreement."
The right to join the union of one's own choosing, the right to negotiate collective agreements are inalienable rights enshrined in ILO conventions 87 and 98 which are recognized at the international level.
We, FNEC FP-FO express our solidarity with the staff of the university of the Philippines fighting with their union for a collective agreement.
Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association must be able to exert these rights without any interference from the military nor from any authority whatsoever.
12/09/2008 12:08 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Militant workers and urban poor on Tuesday started a two-day protest demonstration as they marched from Las Piñas City to Baclaran to oppose moves to push Charter change.
In a statement, Partido ng Manggagawa said members from various militant groups started the march 8 a.m. to the Redemptionist Church in Baclaran where they were met by other groups from depressed communities of Manila's Tondo district and the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.
The group will then march to the Department of Labor and Employment via Taft Avenue where participants from Caloocan, Bulacan and Rizal are expected to join them. At 6:00 p.m. the protesters will hold a noise barrage at the Welcome Rotonda.
The labor groups are expected to make an overnight vigil and then merge with farmers’ groups that will troop to the Batasang Pambansa on Wednesday.
Partido ng Manggagawa Secretary- General Judy Ann Miranda said instead of focusing on Charter change, the government should first address more basic concerns to help the poor cope with the global economic crisis.
"The reduction in self-rated poverty revealed in the SWS survey does not mean the government is doing its job well. In fact it is doing its job badly and so the people are just reducing their standard of living as a coping mechanism. Rather than focusing on Cha-cha in order to remove the protectionist provisions of the constitution, the government must instead prioritize protection for the workers and the poor so they could deal with the global crisis," Miranda said.
The group also echoed calls for the continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Miranda said that the government should also consider coming up with a "stimulus package" that may include a subsidy to all private sector workers, government employees and OFW's who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they are re-employed up to a maximum of six months.
In addition, she urged the government to declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to two months wage as well as a public employment program for over four million unemployed Filipinos.
Tha protest rally will be a prelude to the anti-Charter change rally scheduled on December 10 in Makati City which will be participated by Catholic bishops, Labor union groups, militant groups, transport groups and students. - Mikhaela De Leon, GMANews.TV
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
December 10, 2008
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa merged today with the farmers march for a joint mobilization at the Batasang Pambansa with the call “Maralita Magkaisa, Baguhin ang Sistema (Poor Unite and Fight for Social Change).” The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa by a thousand factory workers and urban started yesterday from Zapote Bacoor, passed by Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, marched through Taft and Espana in Manila and then made an overnight vigil at the Claret School in QC.
“The merging of the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa and the farmers march is an expression of the basic alliance between the workers and farmers. A one-two punch by the workers and farmers will provide the knock-out blow against the rotten system and pave the way for social change,” stated Renato Magtubo, chairperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa made a final stop at the main office of the NHA for a noise barrage at 9 a.m. to air the poor’s grievances at the failed housing program of the government. Fr. Buddy Agualada, school head of Claret, and scores of Claret students and personnel joined the workers and poor in the NHA protest.
“The sanctuary provided by the church to the Lakbayan marchers and the support of ordinary Filipinos to our demands is in sharp contrast to Malacanang and Congress which are deaf and blind to the opposition of the people to charter change. Rather than focusing on chacha in order to remove the protectionist provisions of the constitution, the government must instead prioritize protection for the workers and the poor so they could deal with the global crisis,” explained Magtubo.
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa then proceeded to Philcoa where it combined with the peasant marchers. By 10 a.m. the workers and farmers marched together to the St. Peter Cathedral along Commonwealth Ave. for a mass be officiated by Catholic bishops at noon. The big mobilization then proceeded to the Batasan Pambansa for a program at the gates to pressure Congress to pass the proposed bill for CARP extension.
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa participants came from PM, Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, Zone One Tondo Organization, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite, United Cavite Workers Association and unions of Valenzuela City. PM supports the peasants’ campaign for a continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and slams the inaction of Congress on the proposed bill for extension. The group is also demanding that Congress and Malacanang enact a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
December 9, 2008
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa begins today with the call “Baguhin ang sistema hindi ang konstitusyon!”(Social change not charter change!).” Around a thousand factory workers and urban poor will march through different parts of Metro Manila, make an overnight vigil and then merge with the farmers’ mobilization that will troop to the Batasang Pambansa tomorrow.
“The reduction in self-rated poverty revealed in the SWS survey does not mean the government is doing its job well. In fact it is doing its job badly and so the people are just reducing their standard of living as a coping mechanism. Rather than focusing on chacha in order to remove the protectionist provisions of the constitution, the government must instead prioritize protection for the workers and the poor so they could cope with the global crisis,” argued Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa starts with the Calabarzon contingent meeting at 8 a.m. in Zapote at the boundary of Bacoor and Las Pinas. They then marched the several kilometers to the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran where groups from depressed communities of Tondo and Camanava, and relocation areas in Caloocan, Bulacan and Rizal met them around noon. At 4 p.m. they held a program at the DOLE main office in Intramuros. By 6 p.m. the marchers stopped for a while at Welcome Rotonda for a noise barrage. The Lakbayan ng Manggagawa participants came from PM, Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, Zone One Tondo Organization, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite, United Cavite Workers Association and unions of Valenzuela City.
Miranda explained that “The Lakbayan is the workers response to the call of the Catholic bishops for people to work for social change. The merging of forces of the workers and the peasants is not just a symbolic gesture and not simply an expression of their common struggle. No movement for social change can succeed without the basic alliance between the workers and farmers.”
PM supports the peasants’ campaign for a continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and slams the inaction of Congress on the proposed bill for extension. The group is also demanding that Congress and Malacanang enact a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor.
Miranda identified the package as “The SSS, GSIS and OWWA must subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and OFW’s who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they find a new job up to a maximum of 6 months. Government must also declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage. And a public employment program must be established for the four million unemployed Filipinos.”
A noise barrage at several points in Metro Manila yesterday served as prelude and build up to the two-day Lakbayan. A few hundred participants to the noise barrage banged pots and pans to dramatize the opposition to chacha.
Monday, December 8, 2008
December 8, 2008
A noise barrage held today in different parts of Metro Manila called for “social change not charter change.” The coordinated activity was a build up for the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa that will start tomorrow and then merge with the peasant marchers on Wednesday for a big joint mobilization.
The coordinated noise barrage was launched in the following five points in Metro Manila: NHA, Elliptical Road, QC; Sto. Nino Church, Tondo, Manila; Bicutan Interchange, Paranaque; Sangandaan, Caloocan; and Royal Mall, Malinta Exit, Valenzuela. The noise barrage commenced at 5 p.m. except the NHA activity which was held earlier at 1 p.m. A hundred workers and poor in every one of the five areas banged pots and pans to dramatize their protest.
“Instead of railroading chacha, Malacanang and Congress should push for a bailout of the workers and the poor in the face of the global economic crisis,” stated Renato Magtubo, chairperson of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), one of the organizations involved in the noise barrage. He also welcomed the TUCP’s opposition to chacha but added that “We only ask that they match their words with deeds. They should join the urban and rural poor joint rally on Wednesday.”
PM will lead the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa on Tuesday that will involve more than a thousand members of Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino, Zone One Tondo Organization, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite at United Cavite Workers Association. The Lakbayan marchers will pass through various points of Metro Manila and hold an overnight vigil at an undisclosed church compound. On Wednesday the Lakbayan ng Manggagawa will resume and combine with the farmer mobilization that will troop to the Batasan Pambansa.
“The merging of forces of the workers and the peasants, of the urban and rural poor, is a response to the call of the Catholic bishops for social change. An alliance between the workers and the peasants is the necessary condition for changing Philippine society. Nothing is impossible if the workers and farmers unite and fight,” asserted Magtubo.
PM declared its support for the farmers demand for an extension of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and condemnation of the landlord resistance. Meanwhile the group is campaigning for a bailout at stimulus package for workers and poor. Magtubo explained that “SSS, GSIS and the OWWA must release funds sufficient to subsidize all private sector workers, government employees and OFW’s who will be laid off due to the crisis that should last until they find a new job up to a maximum of 6 months. Government must also declare a tax rebate for all workers equivalent to 2 months wage, in effect giving them a 14th and 15th month salary. And a public employment program must be established for the four million unemployed even before the onset of the present crisis.”
December 8, 2008
Some 300 beneficiaries of a condominium project located at C-5 Taguig designed to benefit the poor and government employees carried out a silent protest in front of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as they demanded that the Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC) recognize the housing rights of the poor families instead of making the housing project a milking cow of their agency. The protesters called the HGC “a scrooge that is stealing Christmas from the poor.”
Vilma Estidola, president of the Perpetual Help Neighborhood Association of Guadalupe Bliss Inc. (PNAGBI), said “We never wished to be delinquent in our amortization payments but we could not pay our obligations due to the low income of majority of the beneficiaries. About 75% of us are working as laundry women, carpenters and garbage collectors. We are earning a meager 4,500 pesos a month, a family income that could not even provide a decent meal.”
PNAGBI members were relocated from Guadalupe in 1997 and Estidola claimed that they have not received any livelihood assistance despite repeated demands. “Instead the HGC has responded by sending out letters of cancellations and demand letters to vacate our homes. The irony is that the Aquino administration thru Presidential Proclamation 258 provided us the four hectare land as relocation area but then the HGC converted it to a condominium project without prior consultation,” she insisted.
Mark Sison, president of the Building C-17 Neighborhood Association, said “The government knows so well that teachers, local government employees and rank and file military men earn less than 9,500 a month. Yet the condominium units are amortized at 5,000 per month with 14% interest! Presidential Proclamation 103 was meant to provide shelter for government employees but excessive amortization payments are denying us the intent of the law.”
Both groups demanded the lifting of cases and cancellation of contracts filed by the HGC. They are also asking full condonation of the penalties and interest rates imposed in the contracts since it already constitutes 90% of monthly amortization of beneficiaries.
According to Michelle Licudine, Partido ng Manggagawa organizer, “The penalties and interest rates imposed by the HGC are onerous since beneficiaries are living in dire poverty. This housing project was built to provide shelter for the poor and government employees! It is time that the government bailout homeowners from heavy penalties since restructuring of loans are not enough.”
The protesters attended a hearing mediated by the CHR at 2:00 p.m. The protesters however declared that if the negotiation fails to gain recognition of their rights, they will rally at the Senate, House of Representatives and the HGC main office. They are also considering filing a case at the Ombudsman since they assert that the HGC does not have jurisdiction to manage a housing project.
December 7, 2008
WHAT: Picket protest by some 300 residents of Cavite to demand that the DENR move to stop the quarrying at the beaches of Rosario and Tanza towns
WHERE: DENR Main Office, Elliptical Road, QC
WHEN: 11 a.m. tomorrow, December 8, 2008, Monday
DETAILS: The protesters will be led by the New Rosario Movement and Partido ng Manggagawa. They will ask the DENR to end the quarry operations at the beaches of Rosario and Tanza towns that the people allege are destroying both the environment and their livelihood. Many Rosario and Tanza residents earn their living through fishing. The soil quarried at Rosario and Tanza is used for reclamation work at the Baseco area of Tondo, Manila.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
December 3, 2008
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
Some 500 homeless who had occupied a vacant prime lot in Paranaque declared victory yesterday after the mayor made a commitment not to evict them. In a dialogue with the urban poor leaders at city hall yesterday, Paranaque Mayor Florencio “Jun” Bernabe moreover pledged to talk to the landowner next week to seek an agreement on acquiring the land and legalizing the occupation by the homeless of the disputed land.
Robert Labrador, president of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) in the Metro South area said that “We praise Mayor Bernabe for respecting the people’s right to housing and for making the city’s commemoration of Human Rights Day concrete not just symbolic. But most all of all we salute the poor for standing up for their rights. The poor have nothing except for their movement.”
The leaders of the homeless announced that Mayor Bernabe will negotiate with Mr. Tinitigan of the real estate company Molave Corp. which owns the Merville tract of land for an acceptable valuation of the land and terms of acquisition. The successful dialogue followed a tense period for the homeless who revealed that on the first day of their occupation, the urban poor affairs office of city hall accompanied by the police including a SWAT team went to the Merville lot in an attempt to prevent the movement of the people going in and out of the disputed land. “No untoward incident happened though since we rationally explained our cause even as we firmly showed by our unity that we will not leave our homes,” explained Labrador.
Nena Olbina, secretary of AMP-Metro South, argued that “We are willing to pay for the land we had occupied but it cannot be at the market price. We applaud Mayor Bernabe for understanding that the price has to be at a level that the poor can afford. The so-called market price is bloated and not fair at all since it reflects the speculative nature of the real estate business. And with the explosion of the financial crisis, we all know now how harmful speculation by the rich is.”
“Even as the homeless of Paranaque celebrate a merry Christmas this season, the lesson we have learned is clear—only by fighting for our rights will the poor gain the dignity we deserve. This victory was not given to us, we fought for it. The urban poor struggling for their right to housing is no different from the rural poor fighting for their land to till,” stated Eduardo Casuy, president of the Paranaque chapter of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
On the eve of Bonifacio Day the homeless started building makeshift houses in the 1.2 hectare lot. The land sits right beside a recently built condominium and supermarket by the Gokongweis, and is just a stone’s throw away from the SM mall in Bicutan. Most of the urban poor who direct occupied the vacant lot came from the Tucuma Federation who successfully petitioned for the expropriation of the land in 2000. Others were victims of a violent demolition that happened November 30, 2005 in the nearby Cul-de-sac area.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
December 2, 2008
Just days before the commemoration of human rights day, the faculty and staff union of the Wesleyan University in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija denounced today in a press conference the interference and harassment by the military in their labor dispute. “We appeal to the government and the AFP to stop the use of military personnel in the harassment of workers involved in a labor dispute. Labor rights are human rights. This violation of labor rights becomes more glaring with the coming observance of human rights day,” declared Corazon Gonzales, the union president.
According to the Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN), a certain Sgt. Edgar Dimalanta of the Civil Affairs Office of the 71st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has been issuing veiled threats, and pressuring union officers and even some union members to sit down with him for a meeting. In a recent incident last November 25, Sgt. Dimalanta told Engr. Melquiades Guevarra, the union vice-president, that military men will visit them in their homes after the latter refused the former’s invitation to meet the union executive committee. “The circumstances clearly show that Sgt. Dimalanta is being used by the university administration headed by Atty. Guillermo T. Maglaya in his effort to bust the union and sabotage negotiations for a CBA,” Gonzales added.
After the press conference, the union officers of WUPFSA-LAGMAN trooped to the office of the Commission on Human Rights. Gonzales stated that “The union officers fear for our lives because of the blatant interference and intimidation by the military.” The union has also sent letters to the offices of the President of the Philippines, Chief Justice and Labor Secretary among others. They are also appealing for solidarity from the labor movement and human rights advocates. Officers of the labor federation LAGMAN to which the union is affiliated and the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) expressed their support for the workers.
The harassment started with a “peace and development seminar” that was called by the administration for its employees last October 29. In the seminar, Sgt. Dimalanta, shrewdly threatened the union by saying that they can suffer the same bloody fate as the Hacienda Luisita workers if they insisted on the union president sitting in the CBA negotiations and that the military has received reports the union is infiltrated by communist guerillas.
In the past three years the union has charged the administration with unfair labor practices and violations of the collective bargaining agreement. On two occasions the Department of Labor and Employment has handed down decisions in favor of the union, finding the management guilty of union busting and ordering the reinstatement of the union president who was illegally dismissed. The administration of Wesleyan University, which is owned by the United Methodist Church, has refused to implement the orders and has rejected negotiations for a CBA on the alibi that the union president has been dismissed.
December 2, 2008
Judy Ann Miranda
Partido ng Manggagawa
The Partido ng Manggagawa supports the Wesleyan University-Philippines Faculty and Staff Association (WUPFSA-LAGMAN) in its fight against the vicious labor repression by the military and in its struggle against the virulently anti-labor management at the helm of Wesleyan University.
Aside from Colombia, the Philippines is the worst country for trade unionists, who are routinely killed or harassed by agents of the government and the military. We call on our brothers and sisters in the labor movement to close ranks in defense of the union leaders of WUPFSA-LAGMAN and other victims of labor repression.
The harassment suffered by the Wesleyan union is no different from two cases of unions right here in Metro Manila who were similarly intimidated by military personnel. In September 2006 military men held an anti-communist teach-in for the union leaders of Manila Bay Spinning Mills in Marikina. Before that, they held the same seminar for the union of Armscor also in Marikina.
The vicious agenda of labor repression is clear—to strike fear in the hearts of workers and terrorize them against political involvement. With a terrorized and docile labor, it will be easier to cheapen the price of labor power. Labor repression is bound to intensify with workers discontent at the impact of the global crisis erupting into struggles and strikes.
We hold the administration of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ultimately accountable for the deaths and harassment of labor leaders for even granting that it is not the mastermind behind the death squads running amok, its inaction on political killings and labor repression is goading the enemies of labor to act with impunity.
December 2, 2008
Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino
The leaders of some 500 homeless in Paranaque who occupied a vacant prime lot in Merville last Saturday met Mayor Florencio “Jun” Bernabe in a dialogue at the city hall. The Paranaque mayor had asked the urban poor leaders to him in a bid to resolve the housing issue.
Robert Labrador, president of the Alyansa ng Maralitang Pilipino (AMP) in the Metro South area, Nena Olbina, secretary of AMP-Metro South and Eduardo Casuy, president of the Paranaque chapter of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), represented the urban poor in the dialogue.
Labrador asserted in the dialogue that “It is just a few days before the world celebrates Human Rights Day and we demand that the government observe it seriously by respecting the people’s right to housing. The occupation by the homeless was within the bounds of the law since City Ordinance No. 0013671 series of 2000 signed by the former Mayor Joey Marquez ordained the expropriation of the vacant lot owned by Molave Corp.”
While the dialogue was ongoing, around a thousand urban poor assembled at the former vacant lot turned makeshift community in solidarity with those who had occupied the disputed land. The urban poor assembly was convened by AMP and PM with chapters from Cavite, Las Pinas and Paranaque in attendance.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Eight years of heat and rain is much too long waiting for people without roofs over their heads. That is the reason why the homeless were forced to occupy the vacant lot,” argued Olbina.
Casuy added that “Today we are honoring our pledge to dialogue and negotiate with the government for a peaceful resolution of the issue. But tomorrow we are ready to defend our homes against any attempt at demolition. The least the government can do in a time of crisis is not to demolish the houses of the poor and destroy their livelihood.”
On the eve of Heroes Day the homeless started building makeshift houses in a direct occupation of the 1.2 hectare lot owned by the Molave Corp. which is one the biggest lots in Merville. It sits right beside a recently built condominium and supermarket by the Gokongweis, and is just a stone’s throw away from the SM mall in Bicutan. Most of the urban poor who direct occupied the vacant lot came from the Tucuma Federation who originally petitioned for the expropriation of the land. Others were victims of a violent demolition that happened November 30, 2005 in the nearby Cul-de-sac area on the instigation of Tony Leviste who the people alleged only illegally acquired the disputed land.