A coalition of 49 labor centers, federations and workers’ organizations to promote workers’ interest, the Nagkaisa today issued a statement to give labor groups’ perspective on the fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III tomorrow, Monday, July 28th. Below is the coalition’s pre-SONA statement:
“Millions of Filipino workers and their families remains deprived of the benefits of the inclusive growth they deserve from the so-called high Philippine economic growth they helped built since 2010. It is shameful that the President in Benigno Simeon Aquino III they elected in power four years ago, has tactfully failed them.
With around 700 days left in office, there are bold indications that the man in Pnoythey thought could lead them out of vicious pit of poverty and help them cope with the rising prices of commodities caused by a liberalizing economy is, in fact, slowly abandoning the hope of the working people.
Siding with employers’ interest, President Aquino deliberately refused to break the cycle of poverty by freeing up a large segment of 25 million contractual workers when he turned down outright the Nagkaisa plead to certify the pending Security of Tenure (SOT) bill designed to responsibly eliminate the very backward contractualization work scheme imposed by the business elites.
Aquino is just staring at workers being mangled by a very exorbitant and world class electricity rates controlled by a monopsony cartel of a very few families despite persistent advice from Nagkaisa to act, form and lead a multi-agency, multi-sectoral task force that will figure out within two-year period a secure power supply and a competitive electricity rate.
The stakes just get higher with the ominous crisis in power hiatus is so real that it would reckon businesses to make significant retrenchments of workers and render the country uncompetitive and unattractive to investments that are necessary to create more new jobs.
The absence of a national strategic plan on power will surely force the state to make knee-jerk but expensive fixes that, in the end, workers, especially minimum wage earners, would have to pay more from their take home pay—reminiscent of the same blunder committed by his mother the late President Cory Aquino.
Aquino is doing nothing while watching workers profusely bleed from the day-to-day stab of recent man-made and phenomenal sudden price increase of rice, garlic and ginger.
Without any significant increase in wages amid hikes in prices and costs of other basic commodities and services during his tenure, he has, in fact,coldly insulted the workers by issuing an executive order that would raise by P10,000 the disability and burial benefits of workers the moment concerned government agencies accrue excess funds.
He has reneged on his promise to “get back” a month later with presidential response on important laborp olicy issues raised by Nagkaisa labor leaders he invited to a pre-labor day breakfast dialogue inside Malacanang Palace on April 30th.
In the light of the controversial discovery of the Disbursement Allocation Program DAP), Mr. Aquino and cohorts should account for every single centavo in the billions of pesos of workers’ money in the Nagkaisa demand Mr. Aquino to prove that the people’s money was not siphoned off to ghost projects and illusory expenditures as payoff for political patronage.
Mr. Aquino has squandered all opportunities to make a difference in the lives of workers especially those of the rank-and-file. He has failed to commiserate with the warm bodies that broke their back in earning a living while building the economy. The Nagkaisa has performed its critical part in bringing the case to the table. Now, it cannot entirely put the blame on workers who will claim their piece of social justice on the streets.