Saturday, August 22, 2009

Labor group demands full blown inquiry into Philhealth’s bad health

21 August 2009

A labor partylist group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), is calling for a full blown inquiry by Congress on the reported impending collapse of the Philhealth system so that the people, especially the working class, can get into the bottom of what could be another scam or lest a case of wanton neglect of the government’s soleuniversal health care system.

“Workers cannot afford to lose their only source of universal health care system, thus whoever would be found responsible for its collapse must be tried for committing this kind of horrendous act,” PM chair Renato Magtubo said.

Reports that unpaid government accounts amounting to some P20-B, contributed mainly to the financial hemorrhage of the system. The labor group wanted to know why this happed and where did their contributions go amid persistent allegations that the fund has been used by the administration during the 2004 elections and for patronage politics. Just a few years back, Philihealth had been boasting of a huge surplus.

During a Senate hearing early this week, Philhealth officials admitted that the health care system has a life of only up to 2016 if government debts are not settled.

Magtubo said the impending collapse of Philhealth will not only jeopardize the health coverage of more than 16 million wage and salaried workers but also the stake of voluntary members and non-salaried workers whose meager income made private health care a non-viable option for them.

Moreover, the labor leader said, Philhealth’s current ‘bad health’ dooms any expansion of the health care program which is a necessary step at improving the country’s human development index. Extension of universal health care for employed and unemployed persons is one of Partido ng Manggagawa’s demand for abailout package for workers.

The group pointed out that it is also during times of crisis, like this ongoing recession, where health care is doubly threatened as a consequence of job loss and chronic unemployment.

Universal health care is becoming a fundamental demand being pushed by labor groups around the globe. In the United States, for instance, a proposed legislation that would expand medicare coverage for another 50 million Americans is now hotly being debated in Congress.

Labor group asks Comelec to cleanse party-list of fake and bogus organizations

Press Release
August 18, 2009

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) appealed to the Comelec to weed out fake and bogus organization from the ranks of the party-list system in the face of the registration of more than 200 new registrants. Renato Magtubo, PM national chair, said, “The Alyansa ng mga Sabungero reflects the deterioration of the party-list system and negates it as a token means for the marginalized and underrepresented sectors to enter parliament. Hundreds of fake and bogus party-list organization will crowd out legitimate and deserving groups from a fighting chance as happened in the 2004 and 2007 elections. A sabungero as party-list representative together with a berdugo and a presidential sister-in-law masquerading as tindera will complete the decay of the party-list system.”

PM is a registered group that has joined the party-list elections since 2001 to give voice and representation to the working class. The group asked the Comelec to strictly implement the letter and spirit of the party-list law as well as the eight-point guidelines stipulated by the Supreme Court in its landmark Ang Bagong Bayani vs Comelec decision. “The Comelec has all the powers to cleanse the party-list system if it so wishes. We hope under the leadership of Comelec chief Melo, it uses this authority wisely,” added Magtubo.

“The danger with groups such as the Alyansa ng mga Sabungero is not only that it elbows out truly marginalized sectors but it serves as the backdoor entry for trapos in the party-list system. It bears seeing if the nominees of Alyansa ng mga Sabungero are truly the lowly kristo or some second-rate trapo who cannot compete in the district-level congressional race such as the sister of the First Gentlemen who now sits in congress supposedly as the representative of balut and street vendors,” Magtubo elaborated.

He furthered that “The trapos have found out that it is far cheaper and much easier to win a seat in Congress through the party-list than through the district-level. The GMA regime itself has encouraged this manipulation of the party-list system to weaken the representation of militant groups that have successfully used the token reform to articulate the grievances and demands of the workers, farmers and the poor.”

In the Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Party vs. Comelec case of 2001, the Supreme Court laid down eight-point guidelines to screen the party-list groups and weed out the legitimate from the counterfeit. The sixth and seventh guidelines state: "Sixth, the party must not only comply with the requirements of the law; its nominees must likewise do so… Seventh, not only the candidate party or organization must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors; so also must its nominees. To repeat, under Section 2 of RA 7941, the nominees must be Filipino citizens 'who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties.’”

Friday, August 7, 2009

GMA must heed the people’s pulse and drop con-ass, term extension

Press Statement
August 7, 2009
Renato Magtubo

The massive crowd that joined former President Cory Aquino’s funeral was not simply expressing grief but conveying support for her fight against dictatorship as shown by the sea of people flashing the laban sign. The laban sign was formerly a symbol of the struggle against the fascist Marcos, it has now assumed a meaning as a fight against the threat of a new tyranny. Gloria Arroyo’s spokespersons are denying that the Palace is threatened but for the first time since Edsa Tres, the regime has reason to be afraid of the spontaneous masses.

Gloria Arroyo should read the sign of the times and heed the pulse of the people. It is time for her to order a stop to con-ass and declare that she will not extend her term. She still has two weeks to do so until the anniversary of Ninoy’s assassination on August 21 that may be the next spontaneous expression of the people’s outrage.

It will not be too late for Gloria Arroyo to pay true respects to Cory Aquino by announcing that she is not seeking to remain in power, what could have been the most important part of her SONA speech that she did not say and merely glossed over by stating the fact that her term ends in 2010.

The Philippines has had only two women presidents. History has been truly kind to the first, Cory Aquino, who is now considered, rightly or wrongly, as an icon of democracy. The people have been awfully forgiving of the second, Gloria Arroyo, for they apparently will allow her to finish her term. But if Gloria Arroyo pushes her luck and maneuvers to remain in power, she faces resistance from a people mobilized by the laban sign.