Friday, October 24, 2014

Peoples Action against the World Bank – Philippines

Manila – This WB safeguard review started almost 3 years ago, but communities and organizations in the Philippines barely understand its process and contents. And to our knowledge, this is the first actual official interaction with Philippine organizations. Yet, there has been too little time and lackluster effort to enable meaningful engagements. Meanwhile, Southern and Northern organizations expressed their struggles and frustrations with the dismal handling of the Bank of the safeguards review over the past 2 years. The WB meetings last Oct. 8-11, 2014 in Washington DC was a clear reflection of peoples’ deep resentment over the poor consultation and bad safeguards draft. And here is the Bank doing a repeat of the same failures in running effective consultations: you give us too short notice to prepare and incomplete documents to consult. No draft business procedures, no implementation plan, no translations.

The affected communities and their support groups demand that the WB safeguard policies must be strengthened to ensure real protections for people and the planet. The draft does not promise to deliver that.

We are concerned that right now, Filipinos are not overcoming poverty, inequality and hunger are increasing, our natural resources are threatened by industrialization and extractive industries while labor rights are diluted or informalized. Contrary to the Bank’s rosy narratives of Philippine growth linked with its financing, this growth is widening inequality. Bank financing has not helped in preventing the intensified privatization of commons and has contributed to the systematic dismantling of essential public services. It has been muted in dealing with the discrimination against marginalized groups such as PWDs, IPs, children, and sexual minorities who are the most vulnerable sectors. They have been threatened by projects that were partly-funded by the World Bank Group. Remember the Manila Sewerage Project? Remember Chico dam in Cordillera? Remember IFC’s support to a mining project in the ancestral domain of the Mamanwas in CARAGA? In many instances, safeguards were useful in ensuring some basic minimum levels of protection were available. But the Bank is moving to moving to eviscerate these basic human rights protections. You’re dumping people with more debts but you’re removing your environmental and human rights accountability.

We have watched with rising concern that your new “safeguard” proposals betray these expectations and represent the opposite. In this process, we believe that the World Bank is stepping back on its promise to reduce poverty.

Instead of ensuring protection of vulnerable communities and the project affected people, your draft proposes dismantling of even existing protections that have been built over decades of hard work, hard won protections that people have fought and died for here in the Philippines, including social justice laws for indigenous peoples, environment, land reform and people’s participation in governance.

We cannot remain mute spectators of this regressive journey and must convey to you the rising frustration and anger amongst the many communities that are facing these impacts from Bank-supported projects, and also within many people’s movements and supporting civil society groups, networks and alliances from all over the Philippines.

Our colleagues have watched with growing dismay – the increasingly insensitive responses to the passionate appeals by cornered and distressed communities affected by bank supported projects. I personally appealed that this consultation be re-scheduled to give time for communities and organizations to understand better the process and substance of the safeguards, but my appeal was rejected.

We are also alarmed by the rising talk of the Bank venturing into riskier investments, coming from as high positions as the WB President! Hundreds of indigenous peoples and forest dwellers organizations are terribly concerned with the proposed ‘opt out’ clause, and the dilution of protection hitherto given to biodiversity rich and protected areas. You also propose to venture into uncharted territory of biodiversity offsets! These are gambles more suited to a venture capital fund, not fit for a “Development Bank”, and the Filipinos cannot allow this to happen.

We, the dozens of people’s movements and organizations present here from all over the Philippines, and the many thousands we represent back from our communities, are rejecting this current draft of safeguards. The protections you now seek to dismantle, the safeguards that we fought for over decades – do not belong to you, they are not yours to throw away, they belong to the world and its vulnerable people.

We are also aware of a handful of saner voices from within the bank, and urge them to fight inside the system, for protecting the very rights they themselves enjoy – also for the people and communities around the world facing potential threats from this proposed dilution of protections. We strongly believe this protest action that we are compelled to take, will strengthen those voices and create a better environment for creating a really progressive safeguards policy. This will be in the interest of the bank itself, as well as for the entire Philippines, and the rest of the world.

That is why we are forced to take this action now and join our partners in the protest outside. Today we are going out of this consultation, to defend the safeguards and to stand with the World and against the Bank that is trying to destroy it! We sincerely hope that this will help a better tomorrow, within & outside.

Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Bank Information Center (BIC)
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
NGO Forum on the ADB
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Labor group wants Petilla’s head for deceiving the Filipino people bigtime over so-called power crisis

A COALITION of 49 labor groups and workers’ organizations called Nagkaisa is demanding President Aquino to immediately fire Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla for deceiving the Filipino people with his manufactured power shortage scenario hitting the entire island of Luzon early 2015.

Officials of the Department of Energy admitted during a congressional hearing that the projected deficit in supply for the coming summer of 2015 is only about 21 to 31 MW, a far cry from the 1,200 MW shortfall trumpeted by Petilla.

“It is now very clear to us that Secretary Petilla took the country for a ride. He bluffed the president, the cabinet, the senators and the congressmen, the business sectors, the labor and consumer groups with his tall tales of thin power reserves to justify emergency powers that entails possible purchase of multi-billion peso generator sets. Mr. Petilla deliberately exposed the country to unnecessary jeopardy that has been discouraging job-creating investments away since he came out with his bogus story in July,” Josua Mata of Sentro-Nagkaisa, one of Nagkaisa convenors said reading Nagkaisa statement.

“This is a grave crime to the Filipino people. The only way for Secretary Petilla to redeem himself, after having been rebuffed by congressmen for his exaggerated numbers on the alleged looming power crisis, is to apologize to the people and submit an irrevocable resignation. If he doesn’t have the delicadeza to do so, we are demanding his head from the president. Either way, the Filipino people does not deserve a reprehensible nincompoop in government,” he added.

“Instead of asking congress to hastily grant him emergency powers, President Aquino should first kick his energy man out for his failure to lead a critical department of the executive,” Wilson Fortaleza, spokesperson of Partido Manggagawa-Nagkaisa.

Fortaleza said Petilla’s main blunder is the absence of policy intervention and the heap of unsound options in addressing the looming power crisis.

Petilla has proposed costly lease agreements from independent power producers to fill up the capacity gap in two years. Another option was to top existing capacities from industries’ embedded generator sets under the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

“Petilla must go not because power emergency is none existent but also because policy intervention is absent. The president must fire him for deceiving the entire nation including himself as the chief executive and his fellow members of the cabinet,” added Fortaleza.

Another convenor, Louie Corral, executive director of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagakisa, explained that had the government acted as early as 2011, we could have started building new capacities by building new power plants; forced private power to rationalize their scheduled maintenance shutdowns; optimize the use of every plant especially hydro; and exercised strong regulatory powers to prevent market fraud.

Yet these options, Fortaleza said, can still be utilized right now as these powers are present under DOE’s mandate, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the Office of the President, and Congress under the Joint Congresional Power Commission (JCPC).

“The only time we will support emergency powers is when the government finally decides to take over the whole industry with the utmost objectives of bringing down the price and securing a sustainable power supply not only for present needs but also for the next generations to come,” concluded Corral.

The Nagkaisa is a coalition of labor unions and workers’ organizations who band together three years ago to advance security of tenure, reduce the price of electricity, empower public sector workers and improve workers living wage. The members of the coalition are the Alliance of Free Workers (AFW) All Filipino Workers Confederation (AFWC), Automobile Industry Workers Alliance (AIWA), Alab Katipunan, Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO), Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Associated Labor Unions- Association of Professional Supervisory Officers Technical Employees Union (ALU-APSOTEU), ALU-Metal, Associated Labor Unions-Philippine Seafarers’Union (ALU-PSU), ALU-Textile, ALU-Transport, Associated Labor Unions-Visayas Mindanao Confederation of Trade Unions (ALU-VIMCOMTU), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Association of Trade Unions (ATU), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Confederation of Independent Unions (CIU), Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS), Construction Workers Solidarity (CWS), Federation of Coca-Cola Unions (FCCU), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Kapisanan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO), Katipunan, Pambansang Kilusan ng Paggawa (KILUSAN), Kapisanan ng mga Kawani sa Koreo sa Pilipinas (KKKP), Labor education and Research Network (LEARN), League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO), Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN), MARINO, National Association of Broadcast Unions (NABU), National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), National Mines and Allied Workers Union (NAMAWU), National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), National Confederation of Transport Union (NCTU), National Union of Portworkers in the Philippines (NUPP), National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN), Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), Pepsi Cola Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP), Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA), Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis (PIGLAS), Philippine Integrated Industries Labor Union (PILLU), Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees Association (PIPSEA), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Philippine Transport and General Workers Organization (PTGWO), SALIGAN, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Workers Solidarity Network (WSN)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WORLD DAY OF DECENT WORK | Workers picket manning agency for labor lawviolations

Rally outside the Asiapro office in Pasig City, 7 October 2014. PHOTO COURTESY OF NAGKAISA

MANILA - To mark the World Day of Decent Work today, members of labor coalition Nagkaisa (United) on Tuesday picketed the Asiapro main office in Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City to condemn the “pseudo” manning agency for gross violations of workers’ rights.

In a statement, the coalition said that despite its name, Asiapro is not a multi-purpose cooperative.
“Asiapro is a grand structure of deceit and an organized syndicate with a multi-billion peso profiteering from the blood and sweat of hapless Filipino workers,” Nagkaisa said.

“The people running Asiapro are with pedigree, deeply-experienced and widely networked to camouflage and further entrench their labor-only-contracting fleecing operation. They are not just modern day labor slavery drivers, they are also rapacious and brutal not only for not giving the right wages and benefits for is workers but for skirting the laws and statutes by not paying millions of pesos of taxes that a responsible manning agency does to government,” it added without identifying the people behind Asiapro.

The coalition said it would try to uncover the Asiapro masterminds so that they can be held accountable “for their abuse and injustice committed against thousands of its workers and their families.”

- The online news portal of TV5

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Nagkaisa labor coalition declares war against “King of labor-only-contracting Asiapro” in today’s World Day of Decent Work

AROUND 200 members of labor coalition Nagkaisa picketed the Asiapro main office in Barangay Kapitolyo in Pasig City this morning to condemn the pseudo-manning agency for its gross violations of workers’ rights to mark the World Day of Decent Work observed worldwide today.

Below is the Nagkaisa labor coalition statement issued today:

“We, the Nagkaisa! (United!), join arms in condemning in highest and strongest terms the illegal practice being perpetrated by the Asiapro Multi-purpose Cooperative against thousands of vulnerable Filipino workers in its employ as we commemorate today the World Day of Decent Work along with other labor unions and progressive labor groups around the world.

We are enraged by Asiapro’s unfettered and multiple grave violations of international conventions on decent jobs and serious abuse of Philippine labor statutes that upholds the rights and interests of Filipino workers.
Behind its mask and by its pretense as a multi-purpose cooperative, Asiapro is a grand structure of deceit and an organized syndicate with a multi-billion peso profiteering from the blood and sweat of hapless Filipino workers.

The people running Asiapro are with pedigree, deeply-experienced and widely networked to camouflaged and further entrenched their labor-only-contracting fleecing operation. They are not just modern day labor slavery drivers, they are also rapacious and brutal not only for not giving the right wages and benefits for is workers but for skirting the laws and statutes by not paying millions of pesos of taxes that a responsible manning agency does to government.

As we join fellow workers in fighting for decent work, the Nagkaisa labor coalition today vows to make life difficult for Asiapro and promises to make its greedy high people running the organization be brought to justice.

In observance of the World Day of Decent Work, Nagkaisa today swears to uncover the Asiapro masterminds and make sure they will be made to account including all of the conspirators of the syndicate to pay for their abuse and injustice they have committed against thousands of its workers and their families.”

Mabuhay ang Nagkaisa!
Long live Nagkaisa!
Together, let us bring Asiapro to justice!

Friday, October 3, 2014

NAGKAISA pickets Chinese embassy; backs HK’s general strike, prodemocracy protests

NAGKAISA members rallied today in front of the Chinese embassy’s consular section in Makati City to air their support to the general strike of Hong Kong’s trade unions and the week-old massive pro-democracy protests rocking this prosperous semiautonomous city of China.

Part of the worldwide network backing the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, the NAGKAISA leaders blasted China for its “dogmatic refusal” to respect the Hong Kong citizens’ right to universal suffrage or the right to vote and be voted, as well as its role in the violent attempt to disperse the protesters last Sunday.

Rally leaders said that the uncalled-for police assault using tear gas and pepper spray against a peaceful protest, where at least 59 were injured and 89 arrested, has in fact backfired on the authorities as it prompted more people to join the demonstrations – initially led by the Hong Kong Federation of Students – who now swelled to tens of thousands under the banner of the broad Occupy Central movement.

The Sept. 28 dispersal also prodded the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) to call for a general strike on Oct. 1 coinciding with the 65th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Heeding HKCTU’s call were trade union members from the ranks of teachers, dockers, beverage employees and from other industries as this Hong Kong’s largest labor center stated that “to defend democracy and justice, (the workers) cannot let the students fight the suppression alone.”

NAGKAISA also lauded HKCTU as actually the “backbone of the multisectoral democracy movement in Hong Kong” even before the former British colonial ruler handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.

NAGKAISA activists handed the consular office a letter* urging the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities “to respect the right of the Hong Kong protesters to peaceably assemble and to raise their grievances and democratic demands, and to refrain from resorting to violent and other retaliatory measures.”

They also warned that “ruthless repression à la Tiananmen Square in 1989 will have tremendous global repercussions to China and will no longer be tolerated and ignored by the international community.”

Included in the letter was the demand of the Hong Kong protesters for Leung Chun-ying to step down as the city’s chief executive “for his dismal leadership and for his role in the violent suppression of dissent and prodemocracy protests.”

The protesters revealed that part of the deal in the 1997 handover was that Hong Kong citizens would be allowed to vote for their leader – called chief executive – in 2017; but China’s government reneged on its promise when it declared last August that only those vetted by Beijing would be allowed to become “candidates” in the election.

“It would be another form of a sham ‘election’ like the current system where the chief executive is ‘elected’ by a 1,200-person ‘committee’ filled with Beijing sycophants and lackeys, thus, both are downright undemocratic and elitist,” NAGKAISA said in its letter.

NAGKAISA reiterated that universal suffrage and other basic democratic rights are not incompatible with an autonomous or Special Administrative Region (SAR) setup like in Hong Kong.

“They will even bolster the ‘one country, two systems’ model for the post-British Hong Kong that China supposedly adheres to, and will eventually benefit Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as the rest of the world,” NAGKAISA leaders declared.


3 October 2014

Ambassador to the Philippines
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
Makati City

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We represent the general membership and leadership of NAGKAISA, the broadest labor coalition comprising 80% of all the organized workers in the country.

We are one with the people of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Hong Kong’s top independent trade union center even before the territory’s handover from the UK to China.

Mr. Ambassador, allow us to freely express NAGKAISA’s utmost concern in the current social upheavals in Hong Kong, China’s foremost special administrative area. We respectfully urge the Chinese government as well as the Hong Kong authorities to respect the right of the protesters – who include our colleagues from the HKCTU and other Hong Kong-based NGOs – to peaceably assemble and to raise their grievances and democratic demands.

We condemn the violent measures taken by the Hong Kong Authority in its attempt to break the protest last Sunday. Using brute force against unarmed and peaceful protesters will have tremendous repercussions to Hong Kong – and China – and definitely will not be tolerated and ignored by the international community.

In particular, NAGKAISA wishes to present the following demands to the Chinese government and the Hong Kong administrators, through the Embassy of China here in Manila:

(1) End to the crackdown against peaceful assemblies and protest actions.

(2) Immediately release all arrested protesters and guarantee their basic human rights.

(3) Implement universal suffrage or the right to vote of Hong Kong citizens, including fielding and selecting their own chosen candidates in the election for Hong Kong leaders.

(4) Resignation of Chief Executive CY Leung for him to take responsibility for the violent and uncalled-for dispersal of student activists and other protesters last Sept. 28.

In the spirit of free and responsible exchange of even opposing ideas, thank you for giving us this opportunity.


NAGKAISA Convenors