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.

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