Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Nagkaisa welcomes ICC report

World leaders must always be reminded that they are accountable to the people they represent. When those in power fail in their responsibilities to their people, domestic and international laws provide us with the instruments or remedial measures to correct injustice. 

The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition (NAGKAISA) welcomes the report by the International Criminal Court that a “reasonable basis” has been found for crimes against humanity committed in the course of the Duterte government’s “war” on drugs. This report provides glaring evidence that the Philippine government has horribly failed in its duty to protect the lives and dignity of its citizens. Instead, what we have seen under Duterte is the intensification of violence against our fellow Filipinos. From the drug war killings to the red-tagging, intimidation, as well as  murder of trade unionists and progressive activists, the Duterte government does not represent a break from previous administrations, rather merely showing its preference for violence when compared to earlier regimes. 

NAGKAISA, together with the broader progressive movement and our friends in civil society,  welcomes the ICC report. We believe that impunity and the abuse of power has continued for too long in the Philippines. While a warning to self-serving government officials, Duterte’s possible indictment for crimes against humanity is also a huge boost to the struggle of people’s organizations on the ground. International pressure will bring much needed support to the various groups and individuals that have devoted their lives to the service of Filipinos. 

It is these activists, unionists, and reformers that have been the focus of government repression, not the thieves in power that have robbed Filipinos of a dignified life for decades. We look forward to holding the Duterte government accountable for its crimes against the working people of the Philippines.

Those victims of atrocities are not hopeles. Since the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials after WW2, a number of civilian and military key  leaders  have been brought before domestic and international courts to be held accountable to charges including war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Many were convicted and some were acquitted.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Labor group hoping Senate will act swiftly on Security of Tenure Bill

For the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, House Bill 7036 or the Security of Tenure (SOT) Bill, is already a small step in fighting contractualization.

Nagkaisa chairperson Atty. Sonny Matula said the fight against contractualization remains a work in progress and they appreciate the positive provisions of the bill that advance the workers’ interest.

The group cited the bill’s recognition of regular employment as a norm and disallows fixed-term employment except in the cases of overseas Filipino workers, workers on probation, relievers who are temporary replacements of absent regular employees whose engagements shall not exceed six months, project employees, and seasonal employees.

“This is a big step towards addressing the practice of “555” or ‘endo,'” said Matula.

The group also welcomed the bill’s guarantee that the rights and benefits of relievers, project and seasonal employees shall be at par with regular employees.

Nagkaisa also cited the increase on the administrative fine on violators in the bill.

“A penalty of P30,000 for each victim employee by businesses engaging in end-of-contract arrangements and labor-contracting, while still small, remains an improvement over current law where a negligible P1,000 to P10,000 fine may be imposed regardless of the number of victimized employees,” said Matula.

The new definition of prohibited “labor only contracting” in the bill, Nagkaisa said, further reduces the business space for unscrupulous employers.

“We welcome this development with caution and we continue to lobby missing provisions which are needed to effectively address the widespread contractualization that abuses millions of workers,” Matula said.

Nagkaisa expressed hope that the Senate will now act and act with dispatch to adopt its own version. - by Leslie Ann Aquino

It also suggested the inclusion in the Senate of such provisions as: the finding of labor-only contracting and the order of regularization of the regional director shall be immediately executory; the termination of employees while the appeal on his or her regularization is pending shall automatically effect the finality of his or regular employment and result to the dismissal of the appeal.

HB 7036, which seeks to amend PD 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines, passed on final reading on December 1. - by Leslie Ann Aquino