Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Open letter to Sec. Bello to help Food Panda workers

NAGKAISA! LABOR COALITION

November 18, 2020

Hon. SILVESTRE H. BELLO III
Secretary
Department of Labor and Employment
Intramuros, Manila

Attention: Atty. BENJO SANTOS-BENAVIDEZ

Dear Secretary Bello:

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition comes to your good office in solidarity with some 700 riders of the food delivery app Foodpanda who held a “unity ride”  this morning to seek redress of their grievances in front of your office. Nagkaisa would like to request an inspection under Article 128 of the Labor Code (PD 442, as amended) in relation to the constitutional rights to security of tenure and to humane condition of work (Sec 3, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution). 

The protest this morning started in front of the Film Center/Cultural Center of the Philippines area and ended at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Though they encountered some police harassments in front of the DOLE office, leaders of the Food Panda Riders Association and Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (KAGULONG) successfully delivered a letter addressed to your office. The groups are asking the DOLE to conduct an inspection for the purpose of resolving the grievances of the Foodpanda riders. 

Nagkaisa was informed that the riders were contesting  the recent changes in Foodpanda policies that have negatively affected their pay and working conditions. 

Nagkaisa is cognizant of the fact that their pay is tied to bookings which are affected by so-called ‘grades.’ But the grading system is vague and not clear. Grades have fallen due to changes in the system which penalize riders and, thereby, reduced their take-home due to a new system adopted by Foodpanda  Further, the new provision  called “undispatch” forces riders to rush in order to pick up an order, thereby putting their health and safety at work in peril.

Nagkaisa joins in their demand  for the removal of “undispatch” provision and calls on transparency and fairness in the implementation of policies. They also call for the review of the computation of the pay for deliveries.

Most importantly, Nagkaisa calls for the DOLE to declare Food Panda as employer of its riders since the latter are subject to control and supervision of the company as shown by the impact of policy changes on pay and condition. 

Nagkaisa supports their contention that FoodPanda riders are not independent contractors but ordinary employees of the company owning the app.

Nagkaisa expresses its solidarity and deep admiration for the riders of Panda and calls on your good office to address their concerns in the soonest possible time.

Lastly, Nagkaisa manifests its protest on harrassment and interference that happened on said peaceful assembly. One of the leaders was arrested by the police  (though released after some talks and negotiation). 

Thank you and warm regards.

Very truly yours,

Atty. SONNY G. MATULA
Chairperson
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Workers ask PH government to declare climate emergency, press carbon majors and rich countries to pay for climate debt

The cost of damage from extreme natural disasters is too much to bear for victims living in the most climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines. Thus, for the labor coalition Nagkaisa, the most responsible for the climate crisis – the rich industrial countries or the Annex 1 countries in the climate negotiations, and the ‘carbon majors, a hundred companies responsible for 70% of carbon emissions in the world –  should be the ones footing the bill for the climate damage being suffered by developing nations. 

The Philippines contributes less than 1% in carbon emissions, yet we suffer the most from climate devastations. 

“How can we recover from COVID-19 and advance into a sustainable future when we pay so much for damages not of our own making? To us, the government must be present not only in calamity-hit areas but also in the negotiating tables pressing rich countries and their TNCs to pay for climate debts they owe us,” said the group in a statement.

Nagkaisa noted that the billions of pesos in damages require the same amount or even higher in the recovery and restoration efforts alone. Preliminary estimate of damage from “Ulysses” has already breached P10B. It was also reported that “Rolly” and “Quinta” left some P11B in total damages.  

These are all preliminary estimates, the group said, but it added that between 2006 and 2015 the government estimated the damages from natural calamities to have reached P374B based on official accounting made by the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Compendium of Philippine Environmental Statistics in 2016. Another report from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies puts the total damage at P571B from “Yolanda” (2013) alone. The same PIDS study puts the average annual damages due to typhoons at P133.2B. 

Meanwhile, the government allocates a declining budget to the calamity fund from the 

“We’re running on a trillion peso deficit now due to COVID-19 and here these damages are, asking for the same attention and resources for recovery and rebuilding.  Either we, the taxpayers, will continue footing those bills forever or we charge them all to the world’s biggest polluters,” asserted Nagkaisa. 

Annex 1 countries are the richest industrial countries, while carbon majors are transnational companies (TNCs) involved mostly in the extraction and production of fossil fuel.

The Commission on Human Rights has already ruled on the moral and legal culpability of these carbon majors on the petition filed by trade unions and social movements in 2015. 

Nagkaisa has been pushing for a labor agenda which include income and employment guarantees. Included in the group’s public employment agenda is a nature and employment-based recovery program such as the creation of green and climate jobs in renewable energy, housing and building sector, transportation, and nature conservation.

Friday, October 9, 2020

NAGKAISA Rejects Extention of Six-month Floating Status and Deferment of 13th Month Pay

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition rejects the DOLE's proposal to extend the six month floating status of employment; and the deferment of payment of 13th month pay.

The labor standards law cannot be amended or repealed by executive fiat. The spring cannot be above the source.

Under the law, suspension of employment cannot exceed six (6) months. The DOLE’s proposal allowing an extension of the period when employment is suspended for six (6) more months does not have any support in law. 

Article 301 of the Labor Code only allows for a bona fide suspension of operation of a business or undertaking for a period not exceeding six months. 

The DOLE has no authority to issue a Department Order or Advisory in violation of the Labor Code, which it is mandated to implement. In the words of the Supreme Court, “the law prevails over administrative regulations implementing it.  The authority to promulgate implementing rules proceeds from the law itself. To be valid, a rule or regulation must conform to and be consistent with the provisions of the enabling statute. As such, it cannot amend the law either by abridging or expanding its scope.” (Perez v PT&T, G.R. No. 152048, April 7, 2009)

Only Congress can amend the law, if it agrees with the DOLE’s intent to prolong the floating status of employment.

As it now stands, an executive fiat cannot validly be done via the issuance of a Department Order.

Nagkaisa is gravely  concerned with the various extra-legal measures that have recently been proposed in the guise of coping with the current pandemic including the extension of employment floating status and the deferment of the payment of 13th month pay and other benefits.

Instead of removing this labor protection, Nagkaisa urges the Duterte administration not to be inutile and remain a by-stander while the Labor Department exacerbates the suffering of workers. It needs to spur the economy and grant subsidies to SMEs for them to maintain their workforce and pay the required labor standards.

In this time of COVID-19 pandemic, the sympathy and compassion of the law for the less privileged workers is imperative, not to be disregarded but considered.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Nagkaisa pushes for SOLAR and USWAG to address widening decent work deficit amid the pandemic



Today is the World Day for Decent Work and the country’s broadest labor coalition Nagkaisa is pushing for the protection of labor rights amid the health and economic crises and the adoption of its agenda on income and employment guarantees to address the intensifying unemployment problem and consequent loss of incomes. 

In an online national conference held last October 3, some 200 Nagkaisa local leaders nationwide have unanimously approved the coalition’s State of Labor and its Agenda on Recovery (SOLAR) and its accompanying agenda on public employment called USWAG or Unemployment Support and Work Assistance Guarantee. 

SOLAR is Nagkaisa’s recovery agenda that pursue a combination of different programs, including: 
(1) Protection of labor rights during health and economic crises;
(2) Supporting key sectors: An industrial strategy for recovery 
(3) Supporting MSMEs;
(4) Employment and income guarantees; 
(5) Universal and resilient public health systems based on equity and solidarity;
(6) Just transition into safe and efficient transportation systems, and;
(7) Financing and resource mobilization for the recovery program

USWAG on the other hand calls for a state-led creation of jobs, including green jobs, ranging from 100 days to 9 months, and to provide not less than P10,000 income guarantees to the unemployed, including OFWs, to enhance aggregate demands that the economy badly needs for recovery. It was officially submitted by Nagkaisa to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last September 14.  

The group asserts that many of the emergent social tasks in health, environment, and climate emergencies can only be performed by the state rather than by the market. That means the state is mainly responsible for financing these programs. 

A wealth tax or solidarity tax is likewise proposed under Nagkaisa’s SOLAR for resource refueling and to finance recovery. 

The group added that the onset of the pandemic has only worsened decent work deficits in the Philippines and worldwide as hard lockdown and lousy health response forced businesses to shutdown and sent millions of workers out of jobs. Adult unemployment remains very high at 39.5% in September, according to the latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS). 

Decent Work, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), “involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.” Lacking any or many of these elements is what is called decent work deficit.

Likewise, a report by the global trade union listed the Philippines among 10 countries most dangerous for trade union activities. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dissolution, privatization not the cure to Philhealth mess

Privatization or dissolution is a quack doctor's prescription.

Nagkaisa denounces the current moves to privatize or even dissolve Philhealth. The President’s latest instruction for Congress to abolish Philhealth has placed the full weight of this present crisis to the battered institution, rather than on individuals who were responsible for the crime.  Privatizing healthcare, even more, is a cure worse than the disease.

Privatizing Philhealth, or worse, dissolving it, based on allegations of massive corruption is not the solution. If privatization is the most sensible argument against corruption, incompetence, and patronage system in state bureaucracy, then most, if not all public institutions and government offices, should have been privatized or dissolved a long time ago.

The solution to the current mess in Philhealth is to thoroughly investigate allegations of massive and systemic corruption and hold both the appointees and the appointing powers accountable. We also fear that abolishing it may also wash down evidences of corruption in the agency as in the case of the privatization projects undertaken in the airline, water, power, and telecommunications industries, to name a few. 

Privatizing Philhealth would surely reverse our gains in institutionalizing universal health care. Privatization in most jurisdictions around the world has led to commodification of health services. Its commodification comes with higher costs of all health services as profit defines the corporations’ bottom line in rendering their services to the public.

Apart from investigating and holding to account all those responsible for draining Philhealth, what we need is:

- To repair the damage done by putting up a more effective management team

- Review its policies to plug the loopholes in the system

- Infuse more public funds to ensure the longevity of the institution

- Replace all the current sectoral reps with those who are truly representative of the sector. A strong workers' and employers'  voices from the most representative organizations of their sectors are called for.

- Develop a roadmap towards upgrading our public health system that would fully realize universal health care - from birth to death. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

NEVER AGAIN TO THE HORRORS, TERRORS OF Martial Law! -- BIGGEST LABOR COALITION NAGKAISA

No one can deny the horrors, terrors and rampant looting of public funds during Martial Law, during the time of the conjugal dictatorship. 

The Duterte administration might be purportedly unfazed by the European Union's push for trade sanctions over what the EU lawmakers described as a "rapidly deteriorating human rights" situation and extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte but the Filipino workers’ courage to resist any further dictatorial tendency is bolstered by the recent EU pronouncement.

On the eve of the 48th year anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition is grateful for the EU support for the human rights struggle and once again reiterates the cry of the workers and their trade unions, "never again to martial law, never again to another dictatorship  like that of Marcos rule! Stop the killings! No to the continuing plunder of public funds!"

On September 21, at the CHR ground, together with the Movement Against the Yerrorism Act (MATA),  the trade unions and other civil society groups will remember the looting of public funds with alacrity by Marcos and his minions, the 36,000 documented tortures, 70,000 incarcerations and 3,257 known extra-judicial killings, among others,  from 1972 to 1986.

As we remember martial law, we are also prompted to ask, what is happening to our country today, Mr. President Duterte? Your administration has been manifesting a strong tendency towards another tyranny. Our institutions are now severely weakened as checks and balances are almost completely eroded. Our rights – social, economic, cultural, civil and political – are constantly attacked. And corruption is back with a vengeance. Even the PhilHealth was not spared to the reign of plunder and billions of pesos  were gone with impunity.

Once again, a reign of terror is upon us. Though estimates vary, killings everywhere are rampant and still on the rise.b The Human Rights Watch reported that based on police statistics, extra judicial killings went up by 50% in the first 4 months of the lockdown as compared to the months prior to the pandemic. Today, a total of 5,810 drug personalities have been killed as of January 2019. Human rights groups claim over 12,000 extra-judicial killings and increasing every day which do not spare 54 children. Other estimates over 20,000 have been killed.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague took cognizance of these killings and conducted preliminary hearings. The UN High Commission and the EU took initial actions on the death tolls and hundreds of human rights violations.

The Duterte administration is starting to institutionalize red-tagging. It is tagging a number of innocent workers as communists and asked to surrender otherwise they will be harmed, that in turn, bolsters their demand to increase its anti-communist intelligence fund without public audit.

We need to learn that “strong leadership is a myth.” Democracy requires active citizenship, not a strongman. We cannot afford to have another Marcos to plunder the economy and inflict harm on individual citizen and violate his or her rights. 

No amount of disinformation would erase the fact that the human rights violation of the Marcoses and the plunder of public funds were real. Republic of the Philippines vs Sandiganbayan and the Marcos estate (GR No. 152154, July 12, 2003), Marcos vs Republic of the Philippines (GR No. 189434, April 25, 2012) and Estate of Marcos vs Republic of the Philippines (GR No.  213027, Jan 18, 2017) are the three (3) landmark cases, among others, of unexplained wealth of Marcos involving billions of dollars have long been final and executory.

This is why the Human Rights Victims Compensation Board was created by Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. The HRVCB itself said that 11,103 victims of human rights will receive monetary compensation for human rights compensation after a long and tedious process (Of course, there were more victims who did not apply for compensation and some are already dead). 

Join us at CHR ground, UP Diliman, at 8am, in marking the dark days of Martial Law. Amidst the pandemic, we collectively call: Trabaho at ayuda, Hindi Diktadura!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

NAGKAISA Welcomes Repeal of Labor Advisory No. 17

The Guidelines on Employment Preservation Upon Assumption of Business Operations under Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2020, or Labor Advisory No 17 (LA) was repealed by Secretary Silvestre Bello III when he recently signed LA 17-B.

It was unanimously recommended to be rescinded by both the employers' and workers' groups at the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) meeting last July 29.

Workers and their unions need to be vigilant and persistent to assert and protect their rights. All actions and collective efforts will make a difference.

Sec 4. and Sec 8 of LA 17-B categorically rescinded the whole of LA 17. NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition upon DOLE’s issuance of LA 17 and D.O 213 in May 2020 objected to their implementation as the issuances would further exploit workers who are already starving under ECQ.

LA 17 included Section 5 that allows employers and employees to “agree voluntarily and in writing to temporarily adjust employees’ wage and wage-related benefits.”

Nagkaisa also welcomes the amendments to D.O. 213 which earlier suspended labor proceedings including health and safety inspections before the DOLE and its bureaus and regional offices. D.O. 214 was recently issued to resume safety inspections, hearings and conferences, though done via zoom or on limited or skeletal basis

Nagkaisa has been holding that both LA 17 and D.O. 213 are contrary to existing laws and jurisprudence and highly disadvantageous to workers. D.O. 213 virtually paralyzed DOLE’s inspectorate power at a time that its action is most needed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming from a long ECQ, during its implementation in the past months, workers, especially those who are unorganized, have no option except to follow the wishes of their employers alluded to in LA 17. Many unscrupulous employers simply had to threaten workers with dismissals or company closures if they don’t “voluntarily” agree to rollback their wages and other wage-related benefits.

Further, LA 17 was used to further contractualize the workplace and resulted to the dismissal of union leaders, active union members and regular workers in the name of flexible working arrangements.

NAGKAISA had been asserting that it would be difficult to reinstate the previous wage levels enjoyed by workers as the same offensive Section 5 allows employers to “review their agreement and may renew the same” after six months.

NAGKAISA has been calling the DOLE to rescind LA 17 as it has been giving employers a blank check to roll back the gains made by the unions and even pay their workers starvation wages!

The broadest labor Coalition argued that the state must never allow itself to become a party to employers' latest trick to shortchange their workers.

D.O. 213 was also recommended to be amended to resume DOLE visitorial and inspectorate power as a number of employers don't comply with labor standards as well as safety and health standards as workers grapple with the difficulties and hardships brought about by the pandemic.

DO 214 was likewise issued resuming limited inspections, and labor dispute hearings and conferences via zoom or on skeletal or limited basis.

In a tripartite meeting on July 29, NAGKAISA workers' representatives in the NTIPC called again to immediately rescind the Labor Advisory 17 and amend D.O. 213.

There was a tripartite consensus to do away with LA 17 and to amend D.O. 213 and the Office of the Secretary of Labor issued a new advisory (LA 17-A) rescinding and an amended Department Order (DO 214) to repeal the controversial LA 17 and to modify the subject D.O. 213, respectively.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Drop in unemployment rate encouraging but not enough

The reported drop in unemployment rate from 17.7% in April to 10% in July is natural because the economy opened. However, compared to unemployment in July 2019, the current level of unemployment remains high as a result of the economic crisis due to the pandemic and the government’s conservative approach to recovery.

The reported jobs recovery, especially those tied mainly to market responses, will not be enough to cut the unemployment rate further by the end of this year or until 2021 without more aggressive stimulus program.

First, wage and salary employment especially in private establishments remain short by 1.9 million compared to its level in July 2019 when economic conditions were normal. Second, jobs recovery occurred in self-employment and unpaid family work: self-employment increased by 563 thousand while unpaid family workers increased by 550 thousand. Third, underemployment is higher by 1.3 million in July 2020 compared to its level in July 2019. The fact that underemployment rate still increased from 13.6% in July 2019 to 17.3% in July 2020 and because this coincides with increase in self-employment means that although workers found employment, the income they earn from work is not enough so they are forced to look for additional work. These trends also imply that many firms have not yet recovered from the economic crisis.

A more aggressive public employment program (PEP) and support for struggling firms especially MSMEs , we believe, is the bold and necessary action the government must undertake to address massive job displacement, recover lost jobs and create new employment opportunities based on defined social needs.

The unemployment rate in NCR, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon remain in double digit, while the underemployment rate in most parts of the country hardly moved down. And we fear that both the unemployment and underemployment numbers may still be affected by business decisions this month when employers decide on whether to keep their workers floating or not as required under the 6-month rule under DOLE’s Labor Advisory No. 17.

Jobs generated under emergency employment being implemented under TUPAD, at this point in time, cannot significantly address the unemployment problem of displaced workers as it only provides 10 to not longer than 30 days of temporary employment. We demand that a more elaborate TUPAD, or a new adequately funded PEP that is attuned to new social tasks or imperatives be rolled out under the 2021 budget and the process in making this happen be made participatory.

PEPs have been an effective program in addressing unemployment and poverty many jurisdictions worldwide like in the case of India and South Africa. Lessons and best practices can be learned from their experience as well as with our own implementation of temporary employment programs since the 60s. A Bayanihan for Work can be specifically designed to address this need.

We also demand more aggressive support for struggling firms, many of which are MSMEs. The state must also extend support to firms to help them restructure their workplaces to ensure that they do not become transmission hotspots for COVID-19. We also urge the government to strictly impose health and safety regulations in workplaces, after all, COVID-19 remains a health crisis.

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Source of data: PSA. Available at: https://psa.gov.ph/content/employment-situation-july-2020. Accessed 3 September 2020.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

NAGKAISA CONDEMNS WITH NO UNCERTAIN TERMS THE EXTRA LEGAL KILLINGS OF NINE MUSLIM FARMERS IN COTABATO

Violence against Muslims is unleashed again. The Nakaisa Labor Coalition condemns with no uncertain terms the massacre of 9 Moro farmers in Kabacan, North Cotabato. They were extra-legally killed at noontime on August 29, 2020. According to the regional director of the Commision of Human Rights in Region 12 (CHR-12), policemen were involved in the said killings.

CHR-12 reported that relatives of the ninth victim, identified as Nasher Guiaman, told CHR investigators before he died in the hospital that policemen stopped and shot them.

This dying declaration is admissible in evidence in a court of law. Testimony of the victim who managed to speak to his relatives before he died alleging policemen were behind the massacred is admissible in evidence under the rules of court.

The victims were identified as Kons Kalilangan, 35, married, farmer and resident of Aringay, Kabacan, Cotabato; Saganding Sailon, 30, farmer and resident of Osias, Kabacan; Benladin Dimanalao, 25, single, farmer and resident of Aleosan, Cotabato; Jaiden Musaid, 25, farmer and resident of Midsayap, Cotabato; Romeo Balatamay, 35, married, driver and resident of Aringay, Kabacan; Katindig Kagayawon, 25, farmer and resident of Buluan, Kabacan; Fahad Mandigan, 30, married, farmer resident of Sitio Agpa, Kayaga, Kabacan; Budsal Jakaria Lipusin, 37, married, farmer and resident of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao; and Tong Guiaman, 30.

The trade unions under Nagkaisa join the Catholic bishop of Kidapawan and the Bangsamoro Automous Region on Muslim Mindanao's calls for an “impartial investigation” into the killing of nine Muslim farmers.

The Nagkaisa is calling the DOJ to despatch NBI investigators to do the ground work to uncover the truth in said massacre of innocent civilians. The continuing killings it seems is calculated to foment Muslim-Christian conflict in Mindanao.

The biggest labor Coalition in the country can't discount that some groups or personalities are scheming to create a chaotic or volatile situation that would pave the way for the establishment of a revolutionary government.

Thus, our people must be vigilant and resist any attempt to create or put in place such a scenario.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Presidential Duty to Vacate His Office Now

A private citizen speaking or group of citizens discussing about the establishment of a Revolutionary Government (RevGov) might claim to be protected by the Constitutional right to freedom of expression.

However, a President elected under the 1987 Constitution proposing or suggesting a RevGov is manifesting his incompetence to run the existing Government that he heads. Duterte needs to resign from his post if he feels incompetent to steer his Administration. Last SONA, he even reiterated that he is inutile to assert and defend our sovereignty over the West Philippine seas and the islands there.

In 2017 and 2019 President Duterte had been proposing to declare a RevGov. Now, he is again saying that a the RevGov should not be discussed in sub rosa (in secrecy), but should be discussed publicly to include the military during his weekly addresses.

This is high treason on the part of the President for instigating to abandon the Constitution. RevGov will only work in his favor by exercising absolute power without any checks and balances. This is most repugnant to our democratic and republican form of government. Thus, we the people need to resist and correct the dictatorial tendency of Duterte.

Nagkaisa is highly disappointed with this recent presidential pronouncement.

Now, that the president has exercised his freedom to express, his duty to vacate his office has commenced!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Labor Group NAGKAISA Opposes Establishment of RevGov under Duterte; Condemns Bombing in Sulu

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition categorically opposes the establishment of a revolutionary government and the use of terror by the state or lawless elements.

Our unions oppose any dictatorial or authoritarian regime whether initiated by administration or any lawless elements in our society.

If President Rodrigo Duterte will declare a revolution government, he will be abandoning his mandate under the 1987 Constitution. We will no longer recognize him as president. His illegitimate government will have no more mandate to govern. Thus, Vice President Leni Robredo will be recognized as President in accordance with constitutional succession.

Meanwhile, the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition condemns the two bombings in downtown Jolo at noontime today. These two explosions were the doing of barbarians sowing fear and terror to our people. We cannot tolerate these acts of terrors.

Nagkaisa, the biggest labor coalition in the county, calls on the authorities to conduct a
speedy investigation and arrest the brains and perpetrators of these dastardly acts.

Nagkaisa can’t discount the possibility that someone or some groups are creating scenario to justify more draconian responses.

It was reported that at least 10 people have been killed and several others were wounded after two explosions, including one reportedly carried out by a female suicide bomber.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Nagkaisa! calls for full government response to escalating unemployment problem

Is the unemployment problem a lesser priority than face shields and the vaccine? Clearly it is not an agenda for the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) that was more focused on rolling out health and quarantine policies. Today, however, after five months of lousy pandemic response, the labor movement deems it as urgent if not equally important to have a full government response to the escalating unemployment problem.

By full government response we mean giving full attention and formulating plans of action to stop the unemployment bloodbath. And for plans of action we seek for an elaborate employment program, which include a massive public employment programs aimed not only at saving a dying economy but also at providing guaranteed jobs and income to millions of Filipinos who are sinking deeper into poverty.

Consider this demand as a mayday call similar with what the medical frontliners have demanded of government two weeks back. Adult joblessness has hit 45.5% in the second quarter, according to the recent survey by the Social Weather Station. This is certainly more depressing than 17.7% unemployment rate reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority last April.

Obviously, staying at home without work can be as deadly as being infected by the virus. And worse when both hit the workers, their families, and communities at the same time.

We further believe that a dying economy cannot be revived without putting workers back to work. The government as well as capital should now accept the reality that the ‘whole of nation approach’ must have the frontliner and backliner workers as main element of the pandemic response. We need to preserve jobs. We need to generate new employment.

In 2014, then President Benigno Aquino III called for a rare full cabinet meeting to tackle a single issue of unemployment. That was after the SWS released its survey showing the unemployment rate rising to 27.5% in 2013 despite the growth of 7.2 percent in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Unfortunately, that meeting resulted to nothing as economic managers insisted that the unemployment problem at that time was mainly due to bad weather (Yolanda).

Today, the unemployment problem is far historic, widespread, and deep-seated. It therefore requires not just a full cabinet meeting for show, but a massive public employment backed by hundreds of billions of stimulus fund. A measly P162-B Bayanihan 2 appropriation for everything cannot certainly address the unemployment problem of this magnitude.

The Labor Agenda of Nagkaisa! contains some propositions to address this concern. We thus remind Sec. Silvestre Bello of the Department of Labor and Employment that the NTIPC’s TWG on employment is yet to be formed and called to a meeting to hammer out plans and recommendations from both the employers, labor and government.

Otherwise, without an inclusive process to address this problem head on, the future of the economy and the world of work will all be at the mercy of the militarized IATF. Or with the finance department and NEDA which still harbor to an illusion that a V-shaped recovery is still possible within the year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

An Attack on One is An Attack on All: NAGKAISA Statement of Solidarity over the Murder of Randall “Randy” Echanis

Randall “Randy” Echanis 

In this time of fearful uncertainty amidst a global pandemic, progressive movements and social movements have been tirelessly working to continue their decades-long service of helping provide much-needed assistance to the millions of Filipinos that are now struggling against COVID-19 and other related issues. It is therefore disappointing that rather than help the people, the current regime has instead prioritized its own political interests. Much time has been wasted by this government on actions that do not concretely address the present needs of our people. The passage of the Anti-Terror Law, the shutdown of ABS-CBN, and the continuous harassment, even murder of activists provoked terror, instead of inspiring hope among our exhausted countrymen.

In this context, the NAGKAISA Labor Coalition expresses alarm over the most recent act of State violence. Yesterday morning, Anakpawis chair Randall “Randy” Echanis was murdered in cold blood, allegedly by police forces, in his home in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Equally deplorable is that Louie Tagapia, his neighbor, was discovered lifeless lying on the floor with both hands tied to his back with a nylon cord. He was probably a witness so the criminals eliminated him.

Nagkaisa cherishes human life and condemns with no uncertain term the highly deplorable acts of the two murders at dawn yesterday.

This brazen act of State terrorism, especially in a period where government resources are stretched to breaking point in a desperate attempt to fight the pandemic reveals where the Duterte regime’s true intentions lie. At a time when medical frontliners are sounding the alarm that our health system is overwhelmed, when the country is facing one of the worst recessions in recent history, the present Philippine government is still committing considerable resources for the intimidation and silencing of activists whose only fault is fighting for the interests of ordinary Filipinos. It is all the more disappointing that these acts of barbarity will now be justified under the pretext of combating terrorism, especially with the passage of a draconian terrorism law.

As if to rub salt on the deep wound of the bereaved family, the remains of Echanis were forcibly taken by the police from them, disrespecting the dead and compounding the human rights violations already committed on the murdered peasant leader, and inflicting indescribable pain to his kin.

Nagkaisa is also gravely concerned by the arrest of Paolo Colabres, a paralegal officer, for assisting the Echanis family in claiming the body of the slain leader.

Reportedly charged with “obstruction of justice,” his arrest raises the question: is this the beginning of a new round of crackdowns on political dissent? How inhuman could one get, depriving the family, friends and followers of the slain leader of the opportunity to reunite with him--at least with his remains--one last time?

NAGKAISA stands in solidarity with the family, friends, colleagues and followers of Randy Echanis, as well as the movements that he is part of. It is clear that in a country where the government’s priorities are misplaced and compassion is missing, the people must once again take it upon themselves to make things right. We demand an immediate and impartial investigation on the murder of Echanis. We call on the government to hold those responsible for the killing accountable.

Nagkaisa Press Statement on the killing of Anakpawis, KMP leader
August 11, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

Austerity will not end the pandemic and the crisis

How far will 162 billion-peso allotment from the Bayanihan 2 take us for the rest of the year under the pandemic?

The economy lost almost 820 billion pesos in GDP in Q2 2020 alone. To offset this first-semester contraction, the GDP must grow by an average of 8.6 percent for both Q3 and Q4 2020. This means that economic activities must be able to generate at least 430 billion pesos additional value in both Q3 and Q4 2020 and this will only result in a net growth of 0 per cent for 2020. But is this even possible?

An 8.6 percent growth in Q3 2020 is already unlikely because of further losses the economy is expected to incur due to the re-imposition of MECQ in NCR and surrounding urban areas known to contribute the most to the economy.

Is the economy set to spring back in Q4 with just a little fiscal nudge? The possibility remains slim as utilization of existing production capacity, as well as demand, remain limited due to still uncontrolled COVID spread. Because of this slack, investors will not drive the recovery. They will not even want to borrow except to pay the rents, some wages, and keep the lights on. Incomes have been lost, so no one should expect “revenge consumption” to be the immediate driver of recovery.

Expansionary fiscal policy is one of the textbooks approaches in addressing economic crises. By stimulating economic activities, government spending can be instrumental in lifting the economy and saving jobs. However, the effectiveness of fiscal policy is also determined by its size. With a small stimulus, the direct effect on the economy will also be small.

Do legislators rely on multiplier effects of government spending to do a miracle and cause an exponential increase in output of the economy even with a measly amount of P162 billion? Rep. Stella Quimbo, the principal author of the ARISE bill which provides way larger fiscal stimulus for the economy, notes that a one-peso government spending will generate 1.53 pesos in output. Based on this value, Bayanihan 2 will cause roughly 248 billion-peso increase in output and even this amount is not enough to offset what the economy already lost.

Note however that the estimate of the multiplier effect must have been computed using past data collected when the economy was performing well. Currently, the multiplier effect of fiscal policy is impaired because of limited production capacities of firms and changes in consumer behavior because of the crisis so government spending will generate fewer secondary effects in the economy. This means that smaller stimulus, such as the amount Bayanihan 2 provides, will generate an impact even smaller than 248 billion pesos and thus will not suffice for immediate economic recovery. The longer economic crisis also prolongs joblessness and income and welfare loss for workers and their families.

What is needed now is a larger fiscal stimulus. Austerity will not create a way out of this crisis. Thus, NAGKAISA urges the government, especially the legislators, to adopt at least 1.3 trillion-peso stimulus program that will save key economic sectors, preserve existing jobs and generate new employment, secure the income of households, improve health policy and anti-COVID response, and create safe industries for workers. This amount will not only secure jobs and welfare of workers, this will also provide the needed stimulus for the economy.

PRESS STATEMENT
NAGKASIA! Labor Coalition
10 August 2020
On the passage Bayanihan 2

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Nagkaisa tells gov’t: Don’t ignore frontliners’ call for respite

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition on Sunday said the government should not ignore the call of health workers for a time out in their duties in the COVID-19 frontlines.

Nagkaisa chairman Sonny Matula said such call must not be ignored as it was not simply the health workers’ demand for a rest day but more as a “mayday call” to save the country’s exhausted healthcare system.

“They are the experts and frontliners that our country cannot afford to lose in this war against the COVID-19. Their exhaustion is our concern. Their lives are as important as the many lives they save,” he said in a statement.

And as essential workers and experts in the medical field, Matula said their opinion outweighs that of others as far as re-strategizing the country’s pandemic approach is concerned.

He said Nagkaisa! has been calling for the same when they campaigned for #Balik-Trabahong Ligtas since May.

“Part of this campaign was our call for the government and employers to provide PCR-based testing to returning workers as opposed to rapid test promoted by Joey Concepcion’s Project Ark; safe transportation or accommodation; provision of adequate hazard pay, and strict observance to minimum health protocols including compliance to Occupational Safety and Health standards in the workplace,” said Matula.

“We also called for active hiring of additional health workers as regular hires in the civil service as opposed to Department of Health’s passive invitation for volunteers,” he added.

Matula said they insisted then that without putting those measures in place, the possibility of more infection was a sure thing to happen once the economy re-opens.

“Our concerns proved prophetic as companies in ecozones started shutting down due to COVID-19 outbreaks,” he said.

“And the worst-case scenario that we also have imagined is for our healthcare system to suffer what experts and frontliners have sadly conveyed,” added Matula.

He said Nagkaisa! is calling on the government to listen and address this urgent demand by medical frontliners for a timeout.

“This include a corresponding call for social amelioration if there can be no alternative measure to find other than placing the National Capital Region (NCR) back to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ),” Matula said. - by Leslie Ann Aquino

Thursday, July 30, 2020

NAGKAISA Welcomes Tripartite Recommendations Rescinding Labor Advisory No. 17; Amending D.O. 213

The Guidelines on Employment Preservation Upon Assumption of Business Operations under Labor Advisory No. 17, Series of 2020, or Labor Advisory No 17 (LA) was unanimously recommended to be rescinded by both the employers' and workers ' groups and accepted by DOLE as a tripartite in yesterday's National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC).

D.O. 213 Prescribing Guidelines on the Prescription of Actions and the Suspension of Reglementary Period to file Pleadings, Motions and Other Documents were also recommended to be amended.

NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition upon its issuance of LA 17 and D.O 213 in May 2020 objected to their implementation as the issuances would further exploit workers who are already starving under ECQ.

LA 17 includes Section 5 that allows employers and employees to “agree voluntarily and in writing to temporarily adjust employees’ wage and wage-related benefits.”

D.O. 213 suspended labor proceedings including health and safety inspections before the DOLE and its bureaus and regional offices.

Nagkaisa has been holding that this LA 17 and D.O. 213 are contrary to existing law and jurisprudence and highly disadvantageous to workers. D.O. 213 as if paralysis DOLE inspectorate power at the time that its action is most needed in time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming from a long ECQ, during its implementation in the past months, workers, especially those who are unorganized, have no option except to follow the wishes of their employers alluded to in LA 17. Many unscrupulous employers had simply threaten workers with dismissals or company closures if they don’t “voluntarily” agree to rollback their wages and other wage-related benefits.

Further, LA 17 was used to further contractualized the workplace and resulted to to the dismissal of regular workers in the name of flexible working arrangement.

And NAGKAISA had been asserting that it would be difficult to reinstate the previous wage levels enjoyed by workers as the same offensive Section 5 allows employers to “review their agreement and may renew the same” after six months.

NAGKAISA has been calling the DOLE to rescind LA 17 as it has been giving employers a blank check to roll back the gains made by the unions and even pay their workers starvation wages!

The broadest labor Coalition argued that the state must never allow itself to become a party to employers' latest trick to shortchange their workers.

D.O. 213 was also recommended to be amended to resume DOLE visitorial and inspectorate power as a number of employers don't comply with labor standards as well as health and safety as workers grapple with the difficulties and hardships brought by the pandemic.

In a tripartite meeting this yesterday afternoon, NAGKAISA workers' representatives in the NTIPC called again to immediately rescind the Labor Advisory 17 and amend D.O. 213.

There was a tripartite consensus to do away with LA 17 and to amend D.O. 213 and the Office of the Secretary of Labor will issue a new advisory rescinding and an amended Department Order to modify the controversial LA and the subject D.O., respectively.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Filipinos need solutions to health and economic crisis, not death by any means



The lack of formidable healthcare and decisive economic recovery plan will surely lead us to death, if not thru Covid-19, then by hunger. And if you rise to complain, maybe thru the anti-terrorism law or under the revived death penalty law as proposed by the President in yesterday’s State of the Nation Address.

Death penalty is the least that people should hear at the time they were facing real death and hunger in this time of the pandemic.

What we need are solid guarantees to our constitutional rights. What the country urgently needs are laws and measures that would address joblessness, loss of incomes and economic recession.

A death penalty imposed in the manner law enforcers disrespect human rights even during a mass inside the Quiapo Church is something to worry about as justice, we believe, is better served with fairness and compassion rather than by coercion.

If the President and his minions are still clueless on how we can get out of the current pandemic and ensuing economic crisis that we have right now, then they should not threaten the people further with more acts of killing. This nation needs more signs of life, not more death on the horizon.

The economy likewise needs a new breath of life not from the failed free market but from the state itself. The Bayanihan 2, with its measly fund of less than P200 billion, is clearly inadequate to weather the worst economic recession that we and the whole world are facing.

This glaring lack of a bold yet feasible plan, we are afraid, will surely lead us to more deaths. And that is criminal neglect on the part of the government itself. Now, who wants death imposed upon himself?

Finally, pursuing a better normal under a whole nation approach will never be possible with the government imposing restrictions to union’s democratic participation in governance, which to us, is the worst form of social distancing.

Friday, July 24, 2020

NAGKAISA condemns the latest attempt of the government to thwart the people’s constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly

NAGKAISA reminds the Duterte government that no law prevents the people from exercising its constitutional rights.

An IATF resolution is not a law. It can never contravene the constitution.

As such, NAGKAISA, is more determined to mobilize its members to join SONAgKAISA and register the working people’s deepening disgust to the government’s criminal neglect of the people’s welfare especially in the time of the pandemic.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Workers groups file petition vs Terror Act at Supreme Court

Workers’ groups led by the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and Kilusang Mayo Uno filed today a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to stop the implementation of the just enacted Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act for being inimical to workers’ interests and for being unconstitutional.

They filed a “Certiorari and Prohibition, with Urgent Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction,” with the Office of the President, Senate of the Philippines, and House of Representatives a respondents, for committing “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in passing into law the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.”

“The greatest concern is that the unrestrained power given to the executive department by the assailed law would be an instrument to terrorize the ordinary citizens who are not terrorists -- or be used to aggravate the situation of those who are already victims of terrorism,” said Atty Sonny Matula, chaiperson of Nagkaisa, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and lead counsel for the petitioners.

Matula said that there are provisions that infringed on the people’s constitutional rights to due process and seriously threaten and cause a chilling effect on the people’s exercise of their freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association, right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances specifically among the ranks of the workers.

The petition noted that law enforcers have been harsh with the workers and security forces are actively involved in the suppression of union organizing as if unionism is still a criminal act as in the Spanish colonial times.

Early this year, Nagkaisa and KMU have already called on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and President Rodrigo Duterte to sanction the Central Luzon Police Regional Director for violating labor rights with the implementation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concerns Office (JIPCO) to stop what it terms as “radical union infiltration” in industrial zones in Central Luzon, even without the necessary clear implementing rules.

The petitioners said that “it is imperative that the Constitution must be defended by the Supreme Court from the assault of an outlandishly unconstitutional act of Congress including the unlawful taking of authority from the judiciary and the delegation of the same power to the executive Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).” The Terror Act created the ATC.

Last year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) in its 108th Session Report, noted the continuous harassment of workers relative to their right to organize unions and the killings of trade union leaders that may have been perpetrated by the employers as well as by the State forces.

Signing the petition are Atty. Matula of the Federation of Free Workers, trade union leaders of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition namely: Annie Enriquez Geron, President of The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Daniel Edralin, Secretary General of National Union of Workers in Hotel and Restaurant and Allied Industry, Renato Magtubo, Chairman of the Partido Manggagawa, Deobel Deocares, President of the National Federation of Labor, Danilo Laserna, VP For Education/Head Operations, FFW, Julius H. Cainglet, Co-Chairperson of the Church-Labor Conference and FFW VP for Advocacy, Ruel Polon, President of TF Logistic Philippines Workers Union; Elmer Labog, Chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Eleanor De Guzman of the Workers’ Resistance Against Tyranny & For Human Rigths, Pascual Pausal of Kilos Na Manggagawa; and trade union leaders of the UNI Global Union-Philippine Liaison Council, namely, Jesus Exequiel Nidea, President and Roland Dela Cruz, Executive Vice President); and Rolando Librojo, convenor of Kilusang Artikulo Trese. Atty. General Du is collaborating counsel.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Labor groups surprised that TUCP sided with anti-ABS CBN franchise

The vote of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) party-list Rep. Raymund Mendoza against the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation last Friday surprised labor groups.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Chairman Sonny Matula said their members, as well as other trade unions and workers’ groups were all in shock upon learning that one of their convenors, did not toe the line and set aside the jobs of 11,000 workers and the means of survival of their families by voting to deny ABS-CBN a franchise.

“Many could not hide their disappointment and disgust in public. We have to speak as a coalition,” he said in a statement on Sunday, July 12.

Nagkaisa asked Rep. Mendoza to explain to the coalition the reason behind his vote.

According to the group, the lawmaker already communicated to Matula that he will explain to the coalition his vote, in due time.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) was also surprised with Mendoza’s vote.

“We are really surprised, to say the least, about TUCP not supporting even the interest of the 11,000 workers, who would lose their jobs at the ABS-CBN,” KMU Chairman Elmer Labog said in a separate interview.

He expressed hope that TUCP will reconsider its position saying the battle to assert that ABS-CBN be allowed to operate is not yet finished.

“More so, it’s still a long war to fight for press freedom and freedom of expression,” said Labog.

On July 10, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises adopted the recommendation of its technical working group to reject the bills seeking to grant a fresh franchise to ABS CBN in a vote of 70-11. - by Leslie Ann Aquino

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

What is the real picture and employment plan, Sec. Bello?

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (NAGKAISA) chided the DOLE for its deafening silence on what it intends to do with the unprecedented levels of unemployment and mounting company closures and lay-offs the country is now going through.

“It has been more than a month since the PSA published its Labor Force Survey saying that unemployment rate rose to 17.7 percent accounting to 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in April 2020. And yet, we have heard nothing from Sec. Bello on what the government’s plan is. Instead, all we hear are efforts to downplay the jobs crisis” labor lawyer Sonny Matula, Chairperson of NAGKAISA said.

“So what is the real picture, where is the employment plan, Sec. Bello?”asked Matula.

Nagkaisa was reacting to DOLE’s insistence of using its field reports as the only basis for describing the jobs crisis, claiming that the LFS “is just a survey.” Yesterday, DOLE reported that only 112,000 workers have been displaced so far from 4,354 companies reporting shutdown or have implemented retrenchments due the pandemic.

“There are more than 100,000 Jeepney drivers in Metro Manila alone, who have been displaced, many of whom were reduced to begging,” Nagkaisa convenor and Samahan ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) Chair Daniel Edralin.

Partido Manggagawa (PM) Chair Renato Magtubo is also baffled at the way DOLE is suppressing unemployment numbers, saying business groups themselves were refuting these claims, with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) reporting 3.5 million job losses from its members alone.

“Para na ring si Roque si Bello na natutuwa sa mababang numero,” said Magtubo.

NAGKAISA is also incensed by DOLE’s silence on government policies that could lead to more job losses.

“50,000 OFWs have been repatriated, more than 160,000 are still stranded abroad, estimated job losses for OFWs ranges from 500,000 to 1 million, what’s the plan to reintegrate them?” questioned Matula.

“What is DOLE’s position on the government’s ill-conceived policy of phasing our PUJs during the time of pandemic? Why was DOLE unable to speak strongly in favor of ABS-CBN workers who stand to lose their jobs should the HOR committees decide not to grant a pro-worker franchise,” Matula said.

All these translates to massive decrease in aggregate demand, most likely due to loss of incomes from all the jobs and livelihoods lost due to the pandemic and the lockdowns. If unchecked, this will result in less production, less investment and minimal if not negative economic growth.

“This, in turn, will result in more losses in jobs and livelihood in both formal and informal economy,” argued Matula.

Nagkaisa! is urging the government to come up with an economic recovery package equivalent to at least 10% of the GDP.

Such an economic recovery package should be guided by an agro-industrial policy aimed at generating jobs to build up our public services as well as in sectors considered as new drivers of growth and those with higher multiplier effects.

The group is also pushing for income and employment guarantees for those permanently unemployed and temporarily displaced.

“The DOLE must not remain a by-stander in all these circumstances. Nagkaisa! would like to see a ‘better normal,” a different world of work, emerge in the aftermath of the pandemic,” said Matula.

Now more than ever is the best opportunity for workers, employers, government and civil society groups to come together to decide on some fundamental changes to achieve a better world of work.

Friday, July 3, 2020

President Duterte has forgotten his Constitutional Law!

With his signing of the Anti-Terror Law of 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte has failed his Constitutional Law test. We are disappointed with his failure to reject an unconstitutional proposal. He succumbed to the seduction of an indecent proposal.

The people will go to the Supreme Court to remind him and Congress that the fundamental law is supreme over the Anti-Terror bill.

The President missed his historic opportunity to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution. He failed to stand to the historic challenge.

He very well knows that he has veto power but he failed his solemn duty to ensure that all laws should be enacted in accordance with the constitution-- the Supreme Law of the land to which all laws must conform to and to which all persons, including the highest officials, must respect.

Many presidents around the world have used their veto powers to rectify constitutionally-infirm provisions of proposed measures, but the president failed this challenge to veto the proposed anti-terror bill despite knowledge that Section 9 (inciting to commit terrorism) is contrary to our freedom.of expression under the Bill of Rights; sections 29 (detention without judicial warrant) which provides for warrantless arrests and longer detention period for suspected ‘terrorist’ is diametrically running against the right of citizens to be secure against unreasonable arrest (Sec 2 of Article III of the Constitution).

We are taking this to the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

NAGKAISA CONDEMNS NTC FOR AGGRAVATING JOBLESSNESS

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition slams the act of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in killing sources of workers' livelihood in the country. In time of COVID 19 pandemic which also known as the worst crisis in the past 150 years, instead of helping create jobs, NTC caused joblessness again.

We can't understand if our government officials understand the mandate of the state to protect workers' full employment and to guarantee the right to security of tenure.

NTC separately ordered ABS-CBN’s subsidiaries, SkyCable Corp. and ABS-CBN digital TV using Channel 43, to immediately stop their operations due to expiration of franchise while allowing other companies similarly situated to continue operating while having pending application for franchise renewal.

ABS-CBN and SkyCable workers are now part of the 13 million workers with jobs but not working. Soon they will join the 7.3 milion unemployed. If Congress has no plan to preserve jobs including those in ABS-CBN, then it goes to say that presidential vengeance now guides its legislative work, not the state policy of full protection of the working class.

Like a job serial killer, NTC yesteday slashed the wrists of two more companies to bleed them to the ground and add more unemployment in our country.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Labor Group: the Philippines once again joins the hall of shame for trade union repression

The dreaded Terror Bill has yet to be a law, and yet, once again, the country was ranked as one of the top 10 worst countries in the world for working people, particularly for trade unionists.

The Philippines has been on the top 10 list of the ITUC Global Rights Index for several years now. Other countries included Bangladesh, Brazil Colombia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Zimbabwe. Joining the top 10 list for the time are Egypt, Honduras and India.

Validated reports on red-tagging, criminalization of trade unionists and murder of trade union leaders in 2019 were cited by the ITUC as evidences of continuing trade repression in the country.

The murders of Dennis Sequeña, a PM organizer in Cavite, as well as Reynaldo Malaborbor of February Six Movement, were cited in the report. Justice have yet to be served in both cases.

As of the end of 2019, 45 trade union and peasant leaders have been murdered since DU30 came to power. This was done with impunity since none of these murders were ever solved.

Meanwhile, the PNP stepped up its red-tagging when it started setting up JIPCOs or Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office in export processing zones (EPZs) to harass and discriminate workers who organize unions in the pretext of preventing infiltration of radical union in said zones.

Truth is, there are very few unions inside EPZs. Apparently the PNP wants to eliminate them altogether.

It was for this reason that the ILO Committee on Application of Standards (CAS), requested the Philippine government last June 2019 to invite a tripartite high-level mission to validate these claims. The High Level Mission is one of the most powerful instruments used by the ILO in addressing allegations of trade union repression.

Unfortunately, DOLE deferred issuing such invitation. Early this year, the DOLE merely issued a memorandum instructing it’s senior officials to prepare for the ILO High Level Mission.

With the world now in its worst economic recession in 150 years, many are expecting that things could get worst for trade unionists. Using the pandemic as a pretext, a number of countries are issuing policies that undermines workers and trade union rights.

Similarly, the DOLE issued policies like Labor Advisory 17 and DO 213 that severely undermined workers and trade union rights.

Things will certainly turn to worst should the Terror Bill becomes a law. Undoubtedly, the Terror Bill will put PH on top of list with ecozones converted into JIPCO detachments.

NAGKAISA reiterates its demand to stop the killings and calls on government to seriously investigate and go after the murderers of Dennis Sequeña and other trade unionists.

Of equal importance, Nagkaisa is calling for the rescinding anti-labor policies issued by the DOLE. It is also calling on DU30 to veto the Terror Bill.

The ITUC Global Index was released yesterday in Brussels, Belgium. Three of the 4 affiliates of the ITUC in the Philippines - FFW, SENTRO and TUCP - belong to Nagkaisa.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Workers Again Are Left Behind! -- Nagkaisa

Workers are being forced to pay for the costs of the Duterte government’s mishandling the pandemic.

While the government tries to maintain the GCQ status to keep the maximum level of quarantine protocols that it can continue to impose, it fails to sustain even a minimum level of social security that the people badly need such #SapatAtTuloyNaAyudaSaLahat and #BalikTrabahongLigtas.

“An extended lockdown must come with enhanced social amelioration,” Sonny Matula, Chairperson of Nagkaisa, declares. “It should also prompt government to rethink its current attitude of penny-pinching on our economic recovery when we are facing the world’s worst recession in 150 years,” Matula added.

Worse is that it tries to keep people on quarantine but at the same time keeping the stimulus proposals at bay by opposing their required funding. Despite calls for government to roll out a robust economic recovery package that would bail out the people, the DOF and the NEDA continue to hold its untenable position to limit further government expenditures to P130 billion (US2.6), which is equivalent to only .07% of the GDP of US$355B (2019).

Even the idea of DOLE for a 3-month TUPAD emergency employment, though a welcome proposal, is not anchored on the proposal of Nagkaisa for employment guarantee assured with regular funding and which must be based on a new social objective of creating a more productive and sustainable jobs needed by a “Better Normal.” Without a clear jobs generation program, this proposed emergency employment would simply be dispensed through a patronage system.

This is a far cry from what other counties have rolled out to fight the recession.

NAGKAISA once again asserted its demand for income guarantees for all workers amounting to the prevailing minimum wage or P10,000, whichever is higher.

At the same time, the labor coalition also called on the DOTr to ease the transport burdens of workers by deploying PUJs thru service contracting as it is being proposed by many groups, including the Move As One coalition.

NAGKAISA is also calling on government to embark on a serious discussion with labor groups and other social movements and craft a robust economic recovery program. One that is based on an agri-industrial policy aimed at generating employment around key drivers of growth, build up public services especially public health and lag the path for a better normal.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNIONS SUPPORT PHIL WORKERS' STRUGGLE AGAINST ANTI-TERROR BILL

In solidarity with the Filipino workers, the 200 million-strong International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the ITUC-Asia Pacific affiliates threw their support to the major Philippine trade unions and the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition in their advocacy to oppose the passage into law of the enrolled Anti-Terror Bill in its present form contained in Senate Bill 1083 and House Bill 6875.


The FFW, KMU, SENTRO, and TUCP are affiliates of the ITUC in the Philippines and manifested strong opposition to the enrolled bill.

The four major trade unions and the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition assailed the Anti-Terror Bill seeking to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 (RA 9372) as unconstitutional and will likely run contrary to the Philippine international trade union and human rights’ commitments.

In their letter to President Rodrigo Duterte dated June 12, 2020, ITUC Secretary General Sharan Burrow and ITUC-Asia Pacific head Shoya Yoshida said they are "extremely concerned" that the Anti-Terror Bill if enacted into law "will further securities, shrink and stifle civic space and rights at work placing workers, trade union activists, and other human rights actors and defenders under even more jeopardy and danger of arbitrary, indiscriminate and baseless attacks, harassment, intimidation, and killings at the hands of the police, the military, and other security agencies."

Nagkaisa also said the assailed bill will highly endanger trade unions and people’s organizations in the Philippines.

Burrow and Yoshida said that "numerous provisions of the bills are in serious contradiction with international law." Both the two ITUC leaders join the Philippine trade unions' call on President Duterte to veto the Anti-Terrorism Bill and subject related legislative enactment to consultations with trade unions.

Nagkaisa said that the anti-terror bill not only runs contrary to the fundamental law of the Philippines but also disregards ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and the UN International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights (UN ICCPR).

Nagkaisa looks at SB 1083 and HB 6875 as threats to life and liberty of the Filipino people like what “terrorists” wanted to achieve.

ITUC affiliates studied the two bills and both identical versions expanded the crimes penalized by the original Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA otherwise known as RA 9372). HSA penalized only terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism, the two bills aim to penalize a wide smorgasbord of acts.

Nagkaisa looks at the Anti-Terror Bills as ominous and trade union leaders have premonitions of the return of dark days under martial law (after issuance of the Presidential Proclamation 1081 in 1972) which ushered thousands of warrantless arrests, extra-legal killings, police and military abuses, and other terror acts committed against the people of the Philippines.

ITUC and ITUC Asia-Pacific join with the trade unions of the Philippines in holding the view that as regards the fight against terrorism government needs not negate protecting trade union and human rights. Both fighting terrorism and upholding rights are mutually reinforcing goals.

Nagkaisa Slams Sec Panelo's Recommendation to Affix Presidential Imprimatur to the Anti-Terror Bill! Calls him to take Seriously his job

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition slams presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo on his recommendation to give presidential imprimatur on the anti-terror bill.

Sec Salvador Panelo's contention that the constitutional infirmities of the Anti-Terrorism are “misplaced” criticism is misleading and an act of avoiding the main issues. He argued that the members of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) have “the training and competence to establish the existence of probable cause” preliminary to the arrest of a suspected terrorist.

Nagkaisa has no dis-agreement that the ATC might be composed of civilians and lawyers who are members of the Cabinet BUT they are part of the executive department -- not the judicial department which has the authority to issue a warrant of arrest.

The Anti-Terror bill sounds and smells like the Marco's presidential commitment order (PCOs) and executive arrest, search and seizure orders (ASSOs) during martial law.

With all due respect, even if the members of the ATC have been schooled and trained to determine probable cause as defined by law -- they are not judges vested with constitutional authority to determine the existence of a probable cause for purposes of the issuance of a warrant of arrest.

Sec Panelo said the ATC will base its findings on “evidence or proof” to convince them that there is reason to believe that the suspect has committed acts defined under the law to be terroristic.

Why arrogate such power from a judge? It is the big question mark asked the biggest labor Coalition in the country to Sec Panelo.

The anti-terror bill in its present form recklessly gives judicial authority with alacrity to the executive department. And, Sec Panelo has confirmed that indeed the ATC would acquire such judicial power under the assailed bill.

Nagkaisa is of the opinion that an administrative order -- issued by the would-be created Anti-Terrorism Council alone -- is unconstitutional. ATC has the discretion to arrest and detain people on the basis of mere suspicion alone.

Such an executive act alone is clearly an illegal authorization, overreaching the province of the judicial branch. This provision is recklessly drafted and repugnant to the 1987 Constitution!

Sec. 29 of the Bill grants authority to law enforcers to arrest any person suspected of committing any terrorist act and detain him for 24 days at the behest of the ATC alone. This is outside the plenary power of Congress and, therefore, clearly unconstitutional.

Sec Panelo knowingly ignores that Sec. 29 is also repugnant to Article III, Section 2 of the fundamental law. Section 2, Article III of the Constitution states that a search warrant or warrant of arrest can only be issued upon showing of:

(1) a probable cause to be determined personally by the judge, (2) after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, (3) and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Sec Panelo sidesteps the basic doctrine in Constitutional Law that it is only a judge who may issue a warrant for the arrest of any person.

Penned by Justice Sarmiento in the case of Salazar vs. Achacoso 1(83 SCRA 145) the Supreme Court categorically stated thus –

“x x x it is only a judge who may issue warrants of search and arrest and reaffirming the following principles

“1. Under Article III Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution, it is only judges and no other, who may issue warrants of arrests and search;"

Nagkaisa holds that any legislative proposal contrary to any provision of the constitution is null and void. An act of Congress that diverts from the true north -- the constitution -- is not a law; such act confers neither rights nor authority; it imposes no duties. As enshrined in jurisprudence, such "unconstitutional act affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed."

Also, Nagakaisa calls on Sec Panelo not to ignore the constitutional principles of checks and balances. We wish him to take his duty seriously as the enactment of the assailed bill into law is "a clear and present danger" to the life and liberty of ordinary citizens.

Nagkaisa thanks its members as well as those brave women and men belonging to Kalipunan, iDEFEND, PAHRA, Akbayan, Akbayan Youth, Youth Resist, Artikulo 13, PM Coalition, Black and White, The Silent Majority, Tigil-Kontra Mina, among others, who dared the inclement weather and the police threats of arrest in a protest rally, on Independence Day, from the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to the Liwasang Pepe Diokno at the CHR compound, UP Diliman campus.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Nothing is right in terrorism, but there are many things wrong in anti-terror law

Terrorism never goes right. That's why unionism is not terrorism the way of the worker to defend himself and fight for the welfare. Even the strike as the highest level of fight workers is done in the manner of unionism, not of terrorism. In other words, terrorism worker hates.

But when the anti-terror bill becomes law, the way itself of unionism can be considered state terrorism. Because it's not hidden but tomorrow is the goal to silence any target of this silence, individual or group.

It is also a threat to freedom not only to the journalist but also to organizing workers and defending their own wellbeing. Under anti-terror law, the Philippines will become a country of independent workers and citizens.

A clear example of this is the PNP launch of Central Luzon Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) whose purpose is to put detachment to the ecozones to allegedly prevent the impiltration of radical unionism which is among the people terrorist group in factories in it. The worker movement is pushing this but DOLE and the whole government are armchair.

Anti-terror law is not yet visible to the head of this monster in the JIPCO body. When this becomes law, all factory will become detachment of JIPCO.
SO FREEDOM WORKER WISHES FOR FREEDOM DAY: PRESIDENTIAL VETO WILL DIS ANTI-TERROR BILL.

By terror law also established a Palace committee - the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) whose power is higher than three branches of government. This is not only against the constitution but giving power to the people chosen by the President to define and the people or groups that they will also consider terrorist, terrorist, or terrorism in mind.

And most of all, in this season of pandemic and economic crisis workers don't need such a law. This is nothing to help with fighting and rising the country from crisis. Worker needs now work, food, freedom, and new policies that will bring the country to better and humanitarian normal.

For this, the much needed law is a stimulus program that states can adequately fund to ensure that workers who have lost their income and employment guarantee and will lose their jobs. Anti-terror law is just a distraction to this more important program.

Ayuda fund, terror bill turning back! Ayuda not dictatorship! Work not Arrest! Help not imprisoned! Freedom is not intimidating to the people!

#JunkTerrorBill
#AyudaPondohanTerrorBillAtrasan
#AyudaHindiDiktadura

Thursday, June 11, 2020

NAGKAISA In Response to the Threats of the PNP and the DILG

We, the people, are the authors of the Constitution.

Any law or proposal enacted by Congress which destroys or derogates our rights is not a law but an abuse of power.

It is the duty of every citizen to resist or reject such oppressive proposal as a matter of right to self-defense and defense of the rights of the people.

It is for this reason why NAGKAISA, together with the broad Anti-Terror Bill movement will hold mañanita in the streets tomorrow to press for an end to this new nightmare.

We call on the President to veto the bill and instead work on a robust economic package that would address the lack of aid and the massive job losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Nagkaisa Urges Duterte to Veto Anti-Terror Bill for being unconstitutional; calls Anti-Terror Protest on Independence Day!

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition including 40 of its affiliate trade centers, federations and associations calls on President Rodrigo Duterte to use his veto power under Sec 27(1) of Article VI to prevent the enactment into law of a proposal which runs afoul with our constitution.

Comes Independence Day, the biggest labor Coalition in the country calls on every citizen to manifest protest on the assault on our fundamental rights allowed with alacrity by the newly passed Anti-Terror Bill. The bill attacks the core of the Constitution by wrecking havoc on the structure of government, particularly separation of powers. Its overbroad and vague definition of terrorist acts also terrorizes the provisions of the Bills of Rights. This is detrimental to democracy and repugnant to human rights, particularly the rights to life and liberty of our people.

The Anti-Terror Bill authorizes the executive department to usurp the power of the judiciary. Specifically, a mere administrative order, issued by the would be created Anti-Terrorism Council alone, may be used to arrest and detain people on the basis of mere suspicion alone.

This is highly scandalous and shocking to conscience in a civilized society. An executive office arrogating unto itself a judicial power (see Sec 29 of Anti Terrorist Bills ).

Such an executive act alone is clearly an illegal authorization, overreaching the province of the judicial branch which is recklessly drafted and repugnant to the 1987 Constitution!

Sec. 29 of the Bill grants authority to law enforcers to arrest any person suspected of committing any terrorist act and detain him for 24 days at the behest of the executive department alone. This is outside the plenary power of Congress and, therefore, clearly unconstitutional.

Sec. 29 is also repugnant to Article III, Section 2 of the fundamental law. Section 2, Article III of the Constitution states that a search warrant or warrant of arrest can only be issued upon showing of:

(1) a probable cause to be determined personally by the judge,

(2) after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce,

(3) and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

It is basic in Constitutional Law that it is only a judge who may issue a warrant for the arrest of any person. In the case of Salazar vs. Achacoso, 183 SCRA 145, the Supreme Court categorically stated thus –

“x x x it is only a judge who may issue warrants of search and arrest and reaffirming the following principles

“1. Under Article III Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution, it is only judges and no other, who may issue warrants of arrests and search;"

President Duterte is a lawyer and a former city prosecutor in Davao City. He knows very well the architecture of separation of powers.

Nagkaisa holds that an unconstitutional act of Congress is not a law; such act confers no rights; it imposes no duties. As enshrined in jurisprudence, such unconstitutional act affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed.

Nagakaisa and other democratic organizations and believers of human rights are calling on President Duterte to veto the proposal.

Lastly, Nagkaisa with other democratic groups call on all citizens to manifest their protest against the enactment into law of this anti-democratic bill.

Trabaho, Pagkain, Kalayaan! Hindi Terror Bill!

Ipaglaban ang Kalayaan; ibasura ang Anti-Terror Bill.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

BIGGEST LABOR COALITION SLAMS ANTI-TERROR BILLS; LOOK AT THE BILLS AS REPUGNANT TO THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW AND THEY RUN CONTRARY TO INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITMENTS

The biggest labor coalition in the country urges all women and men of goodwill at the House of Representatives to reject the passage of House Bill 6875 (Anti-Terror Bill) which President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent. HB 6875 adopts the provisions of Senate Bill 1083 seeking to amend the Human Security Act of 2007. It is now subject to debate before the plenary in the large chamber.

Despite the assurance of both the Secretaries of the National Defense and the Interior and Local Government that “there is nothing to fear” with the proposals in Congress, Nagkaisa Labor Coalition cannot support the proposals that, no matter how seductive, are reckless and run contrary to the fundamental law and our international commitment. The approval in the Senate in February 2020 and the hasty passage of the Anti-Terror Bill in the joint house committees of the House of Representatives last week were ominous. They are premonitions of the return of dark days under Presidential Proclamation 1081 in 1972. PP 1081 paved the way for warrantless arrests, extra-legal killings, police and military abuses, and other terror acts of Martial Law until 1986.

Nagkaisa holds that countering terrorism and protecting human rights as mutually reinforcing goals. Fundamental to us is the understanding that terrorism is a denial of democracy and of human rights to life and liberty. Our members are committed to combating all acts of terrorism, without exception, and that includes the protection of all individuals from terror acts, whether it comes from the state or those groups who advocate violent extremism that leads to terrorism.

Nagkaisa holds that warrantless arrest, extended detention without probable cause, guilt by association, among others, are real threats to the life and liberty of our people. These are real threats not from “terrorists” but emanating from the proposed anti-terror bills.

With all due respect to our policy-makers, Senate Bill 1083 and HB 6875 are threats to life and liberty of the Filipino people like what “terrorists” wanted to achieve. They run contrary to the fundamental law of the Philippines and repugnant to the UN International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights (UN ICCPR).

Firstly, recklessly running contrary to the constitutional protection in Section 2 of Article III of the Bill of Rights prohibiting warrantless arrest and Article 14 (2) of the UN ICCPR on the right to presumption of innocence, SB 1083 (Sec 29) and HB 6875 allow warrantless arrest by a mere suspicion that a person committed any terrorist acts defined in the bills. The enforcement authorities have the power to arrest any suspect without personal knowledge or probable cause. The only requirement for enforcer is to merely notify a judge without the latter examining the police or his witnesses and, thereby, no finding of probable cause as required by the fundamental law.

SB 1083 and HB 6875 also propose to amend the existing Human Security Act (9372) by extending the days of detention from the present three (3) days to 14, with an option to extend for another 10 days, if necessary, purportedly to preserve evidence, prevent an upcoming terrorist attack, or properly conclude an investigation.

Secondly, blatantly disregarding freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 4 of the Bill of Rights and Article 19 (1) of the UN ICCPR, SB 1083 (Sec 9) and HB 6875 also consider it as a crime for any person who, without taking direct part in the commission of terrorism, shall express an opinion or show emblems, banners or other representations perceive to favor individuals or groups tagged as terrorists and shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years.

Thirdly, any citizen can be considered a criminal by association under Section 10 of SB 1083 as well as HB 6875. Mere membership to an association tagged as a terrorist group is also dangerous to one’s life and liberty as it entails a penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole. SB 1083 resurrects the doctrine laid down in Cold War-era anti-subversion law (RA 1700) which was already repealed by President Fidel Ramos in 1992. By repealing the anti-subversion law, Ramos invited the communist party to a peace talk and bring its advocacies into the open and compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Fourthly, the SB 1083 and HB 6875 also drop the provision on damages for an unproven charge of terrorism under Sec. 50 of the Human Security Act (RA 9372), which entitles any person wrongfully accused of terrorism to P500,000 for every day spent in detention. Thus, police’s negligence or blatant disregard of one’s constitutional right has no more deterrent tort liability as it is now removed from the proposed bills.

Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Let us remember that the former dictatorial regime held-on to power for 14 years primarily on the pretext that terrorism and the terroristic acts of the communist and Moro insurgents awaited our people -- while Marcos and his cohorts unleashed their brand of terror and terrorized the Filipino people.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

End the madness of transport policy during GCQ! Nagkaisa bats for safe and free public transportation!

Nagkaisa assailed the national government, particularly the DOTr and the MMDA, for its massive failure to provide adequate public transportation on the first day of GCQ in Metro Manila.

Nagkaisa is highly disappointed with DOTr for its failure to perform its primary mandate to provide "efficient, and dependable transportation systems.” Chaos and confusion now reigns in the streets of Metro Manila as hundreds of thousands of workers scramble to get to work.

Contrary to MMDA’s arrogant claims of its full readiness for June 1, physical distancing was completely compromised as commuters waited for transport services. For many, the wait was in vain as the MMDA did not provide bus stops from Quezon Ave to Ayala Ave.

In its mad rush to jump start a stalled economy without due consideration to the safety and welfare of workers, the national government has once again succeeded in heaping more unnecessary burdens to the working class.

Worst, with this transport fiasco, the DOTr and the MMDA risks wasting all the sacrifices forced on everyone for more than 2 months of lockdown to stop Covid-19.

Nagkaisa believes that all these could have been avoided had the national government provided “safe and free” transportation by implementing service contracting of PUVs that could have augmented the limited public transportation that we have.

Proposed by Move As One coalition, service contracting of PUVs would not only ensure adequate public transportation in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ), but also protect thousands of transport workers as they earn much needed livelihood.

Nagkaisa and its affiliates are members of the We Move As One coalition.

Under service contracting, the government pays the operators and drivers to run pre-determined routes to ferry workers. This is far different from the prevailing “boundary system,” in which earnings are based on the number of passengers ferried.

Nagkaisa calls on the DOTr, the MMDA and the national government to immediately address this dangerous situation or risk worsening the continuous rise in Covid-19 cases!

Monday, June 1, 2020

NAGKAISA Labor Coalition slams Congress for railroading of the Monster Anti-Terrorism Bill

We mince no words in denouncing the hasty passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the House of Representatives last Friday. It could be remembered that the same measure was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate last February 26, 2020, with only two (2) Senators registering their disapproval. The House of Representatives did no better with a vote of 40-2 in the Committee last May 29, 2020, which adopted the Senate version of the bill. The passage into law of this Monster bill would be an acceleration to an already slow and steady descent into fascism of our country today.

We take particular exception in the extremely broad definitions of “terrorism” in the Monster bill, which would virtually criminalize almost all forms of dissent. Another equally appalling provision would be the warrantless arrests and detention of suspects, which basically overturns every Filipino’s right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Moreover, the provisions equating the mere threat to property to terrorism does not serve the interest of the working class who is bereft of any property to speak of in the first place. Clearly, the Monster bill does not have working class interests in mind.

Instead of focusing on how to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, or to help the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees, as well as the projected 10 million working class Filipinos keep their much-needed jobs, our Honorable lawmakers saw it fit to invest their time into crafting more laws that would possibly endanger more the already grim human rights situation in our country today.

Nagkaisa calls on all working class Filipinos to make their voices heard and oppose this Monster bill and call on their legislators to prevent this bill from passing.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

ARE WE RETURNING TO PROCLAMATION 1081 AS THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ADOPTS SB 1083 BY LEGISLATIVE FIAT? – NAGKAISA!

The NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition is alarmed with and strongly opposed the adoption of the House Committee of Senate Bill 1083 as the counter-part version of the House of Representatives on the proposed New Anti-terror Law.

It appears now that the real threat to the life and liberty of our people comes not from terrorism but the proposed law such as SB 1083. The threat to life and liberty and other guaranteed rights are the true measures of what terrorists wanted to achieve. Do you not think the dictatorial regime hold-on to power for 14 years primarily on the pretext that terrorism and the terroristic acts of the communist and Moro insurgents allegedly awaited our people -- while Marcos and his cohorts unleashed their brand of terror and terrorized the Filipino people?

As we see it on its texts, the 63-page Senate Bill No. 1083 is a Marcosian law that can be likened to Presidential Proclamation 1081 declaring Martial Law in 1972. Of recent experience is the implementation of the Bayanihan Act, a number of government officials including security personnel, while exempting high officials, arrested ordinary citizens for violation of and abused them with said "benign law", what more with a Marcosian one.

NAGKAISA minces no words in denouncing the hasty passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the House of Representatives last Friday. It could be remembered that the same measure was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in February 2020, with only two (2) Senators registering their disapproval. The House joint committee did no better with a vote of 40-2 in the committee level last May 29, 2020, which adopted the Senate version of the bill, paving the way for the controversial measures up for debate in the plenary. The passage into law of this draconian bill would be an acceleration to an already slow and steady descent into fascism of our country today.

NAGKAISA takes particular exception in the extremely broad definitions of “terrorism” in the draconian bill, which would virtually criminalize almost all forms of dissent. Another equally appalling provision would be the warrantless arrests and detention of suspects, which overturns every Filipino’s right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Moreover, the provisions equating the mere threat to property to terrorism does not serve the interest of the working class who is bereft of any property to speak of in the first place. The bill does not have working-class interests in mind.

NAGKAISA cannot allow the return of executive Arrest, Search and Seizure Orders (ASSO) allowing warrantless arrest. The biggest labor group coalition dreaded the time when victims are raided and arrested in their own homes without judicial warrants and illegally detained without charges.

SB 1083 (Sec 29) allows warrantless arrest by a mere suspicion and the only requirement is notifying a judge without him examining the complainant or his witnesses and, thereby, no finding of probable cause is required. This is repugnant to the constitutional protection in Section 2 of Article III of the Bill of Rights prohibiting warrantless arrest.

Section 29 of SB 1083 proposes to extend the days of detention from the present law providing three (3) days to 14, with an option to extend for another 10 days, if necessary, purportedly to preserve evidence, prevent an upcoming terrorist attack, or properly conclude an investigation.

Blatantly disregarding freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 4 of the Bill of Rights, SB 1083 (Sec 9) also consider it as a crime for any person who, without taking direct part in the commission of terrorism, shall express an opinion or show emblems, banners or other representations perceive to favor individuals or groups tagged as a terrorist and shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years.

Any citizen can be considered a criminal by association under Section 10 of SB 1083. Mere membership to an association tagged as a terrorist group is also dangerous to one’s life as it entails a penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole. SB 1083 resurrects the doctrine laid down in Cold War-era anti-subversion law (RA 1700) which was already repealed by President Fidel Ramos in 1992.

The SB 1083 also drops the provision on damages for an unproven charge of terrorism under Sec. 50 of the Human Security Act (RA 9372), which entitles any person wrongfully accused of terrorism to P500,000 for every day spent in detention. Thus, police’s negligence or blatant disregard of one’s constitutional right has no more deterrent tort liability as it is now removed in SB 1083.

NAGKAISA holds that dissenters and radicals are not a threat to society if it is not connected to violence or other unlawful acts. Dissenters can be positive forces for or beneficial to change. History is our witness that people advocating for radical change make a difference for a better society. Did we not remember those advocated the 8-hour work a day, the abolition of slavery, or those who championed universal suffrage? These dissenters at their times were considered to be radical as they stood in opposition to the prevailing status quo in their societies.

Instead of focusing on how to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, or to help the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees, as well as the projected 10 million working-class Filipinos keep their much-needed jobs, our lawmakers saw it fit to invest their time into crafting more laws that would possibly endanger more the already grim human rights situation in our country today.

NAGKAISA calls on all working-class Filipinos to make their voices heard and oppose this Monster bill and call on their legislators to prevent this bill from passing.