Sunday, May 16, 2021

Workers' Coalition Slams House Urgent Call for Chacha

The  biggest labor coalition in the country slams the House leadership's "hell-bent" effort to amend restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution amid the raging fight against CoVID 19 pandemic.

Instead of resuming plenary debates and deliberations on the proposed constitutional amendments in his Resolution of Both House No. 2 (RBH 2) when sessions resume this week, NAGKAISA holds that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco needs to prioritize the passage of the Bayanihan 3 and other measures to help displaced workers and to ease the burden of the CoVID 19 pandemic.

NAGKAISA said it before and will repeat it again that this is not the time for charter change. The money for the charter change campaign should be appropriated for "ayudang sapat para sa mga manggagawang nalaglag sa trabaho o kung may trabaho man ay di nakakapasok sa trabaho."

First, on procedure, the alleged political "consensus" in the House has no counterpart support in the Senate. Under Article XVII of the Constitution, without the uppet chamber,  such initiative is already dead on its track before moving an inch. 

Second, it does not reflect the utmost welfare of the Filipino people nor considered the health and safety of our citizens in this time of pandemic.

With all due respect to the House Leadership or political "consensus" in the House, there is no urgency on the Speakers' proposition to amend the fundamental law to entice foreign direct investment (FDI) via relaxation of land ownership. Relaxation will not entice investment when investors are holding their capital waiting for better times after the pandemic.

Also, other countries' experience will tell us a different narrative. To cite some, China, Vietnam and Singapore are able to capture the bulk of FDI in Asia in the past decades without giving ownership of land to foreign investors.

The major factors that have kept investors at bay are not the limitations to ownership of land and shares in corporation, but the prohibitive cost of doing business, red tape, corruption, lack of infrastructure and the high cost of electricity. 

Add to these, European and American investors shy away from  the country because of the unpredictable Duterte administration, corruption,  the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and the rampant violation of trade union and human rights.

Instead of dancing with Chacha, Congress in the midst of the on-going pandemic should devote the remaining time of the 18th Congress in making sure that the government’s  vaccination program should be appropriately funded and vaccines to be used are safe and effective. 

Also,  Bayanihan 3 should be made urgent in their legislative calendar so as to discuss and approve said  measure to mitigate  the impact of the pandemic on workers’ jobs and on the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of the economy.

Nagkaisa believes that “trabaho, ayuda bakuna, karapatan at kasarinlan" (TABAKK) para sa pagbangon ng ekonomiya ang dapat atupagin ng kongreso hindi ang pagbabago ng konstitusyon (CHACHA)”. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Pati ba naman PPE pivot to China na rin? - Nagkaisa

The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Wednesday deplored what it calls as unbridled expansion of the Duterte administration’s ‘Pivot-to-China’ policy.

The group was referring to the supposed preference accorded to Chinese-made PPEs by the government at the expense of local manufacturers and thousands of their workers. 

“Pati ba naman PPEs ‘pivot to China’ pa rin ang policy,” lamented Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula, as he reacted to published reports of gripes being raised against the government by local PPE manufacturers. 

The Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP), a group composed of five experienced manufacturers in electronics and garments, have been complaining about lack of support to local industry even as it was the government itself which prodded them to repurpose their businesses for the production of medical grade PPEs amid the pandemic. 

Repurposing their facilities, the group said, cost them $35 million in investments. The CPMP, as reported, has a total capacity to make 720 million masks, 36 million coveralls and isolation gowns and 120 million PPE-related accessory covers.

But the Duterte administration, the group claimed, bought only a portion of that supply as most PPEs were procured from China. The group, in one public hearing held at the Senate, reported that some 3,500 of their workers have already been laid off. 

“We could have saved these workers and created more jobs had the government made it a strategy to support key sectors of the economy that have the potential of producing the country’s needs during the pandemic,” said Matula, adding that even the government can venture into this kind of production as we have trained workforce available for this kind of jobs.

The group demands that procurement policy be changed to prioritize local production as well as the full disclosure to who or what groups have largely benefited from importing PPEs abroad. 

Labor Coalition
05 May 2021