Thursday, September 22, 2022

PH labor coalition wants fair treatment of POGO workers of other nationals

As a sending country of migrant workers that demands fair and equal treatment of our OFWs from their host States, the Philippines is required to apply the same principle with respect to the rights of migrant workers of other nationals received into the country by legal means or otherwise.

This is according to the Philippines’ biggest labor coalition Nagkaisa, in response to reports that a ‘humanitarian crisis’ looms as the government considers executing summary deportations against thousands of POGO workers, mostly Chinese, for violating immigration and other national laws. 

“For decades we continue to confront this same humanitarian crisis, in fact of bigger magnitude than this one, as we handle complex crises involving our distressed OFWs who were denied equal protection by their host countries. We therefore cannot deny other nationals of the same principles that we ourselves demand from other States,” said Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula.  

Matula pointed out further that as signatory to UN conventions, the Philippine State has the obligation to extend not only non-discriminatory policies but most importantly, immediate protection and support for workers of other nationals.   

Specifically, the Philippines ratified the Migration for Employment Convention (ILC 49) in 2009. The Bureau of Immigration is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the legislation relating to immigration, citizenship and admission and registration of foreigners in accordance with the Immigration Act. 

However, Matula explained, the DOLE needs to share responsibility as it is in charged with the registration and issuance of work permit to regulate the employment of foreigners (section 15(a)(4) of the Labor Code).

“To us in the labor movement, the most important aspect of that protection aside from due process is by not criminalizing the victims for in many cases, migrant workers end up victims to onerous labor contracts if not outright trafficking by criminal organizations,” said Matula. 

The group said many things have already been said about the legal and illegal POGO operations in the country and the only conclusion we can draw up from those investigations is the lack of policy coherence to govern the conduct of this new industry, or the lack of it was made arbitrary for a billion black market business to triumph for the benefit of corrupt government officials and human traffickers, especially during the previous administration.

“It appears that most of the POGO workers are victims of trafficking. The government must act as a good Samaritan who helps and rescues distressed workers found in our territory and provide them opportunity to recover rather than thrash them in our detention centers while summary proceedings for deportation are on-going,” added Matula.  

Finally, Nagkaisa is urging concerned agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), to formulate a coherent policy on this issue and to involve labor organizations and migrant groups in that policymaking process.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

NAGKAISA Joins call to Free Senator De Lima

The NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition supports a Senate resolution that seeks the release of former Senator Leila de Lima from the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

It is timely and appropriate in this time of transition to emphasize the commitment to uphold the rule of law and uphold human rights  

When at least three (3) witnesses recant their testimonies outside or in court, this is a red flag or casts doubt on the strength of the finding of probable cause on the charges against Sen. De Lima. 

Though the new Secretary of Justice may not be the right  person authorized to order her release as the courts have already acquired jurisdiction over the informations filed, he can recommend the dismissal or move for the withdrawal of these cases subject to the evaluation and discretion of the judges handling them.

Nagkaisa prays for the DOJ to reconsider its earlier pronouncement not to drop the cases.  

Not only to save time and money of the government in pursuing baseless charges, the Labor group also emphasizes that it is the duty of DOJ prosecutors, in fact, to weed trumped up charges, search for the truth, assist the court to TC arrive at nothing but the truth, to clear the innocent and to restore justice among the community, the victim and the accused according to the law and the dictates of reason as well as conscience.

Lastly, the biggest labor coalition of the country also calls on the president to "preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man (or woman)" by taking action to stop the perpetuation of an injustice done to a former senator or any citizen of the republic. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

We should never allow racist policies anywhere, Nagkaisa tells PH consulate in Macau

The NAGKAISA labor coalition raises grave concern over the failure of the Philippine consulate in Macau to defend our nationals against a discriminatory policy where Filipino migrants and other nationals are subjected to daily Covid-19 testing.

The group echoed the migrants’ complaints that instead of raising issues against such policy, the PH consulate in Macau SAR rather accuses the migrant groups of “politicizing” the issue which it considered as simply a routine health protocol.  

“Targeting a specific or several nationalities for daily testing clearly sounds racist to us. In the first place, shouldn’t our consulate ask the question why single out a specific nationality?  We therefore call on our Consul General in Macau to do his job and help push back this racist policy whether it is directed against Filipinos or other nationalities,” said the group in a statement.

Racial discrimination, Nagkaisa maintained, is abhorrent to the concept of equality of all women and men.  The very first article of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The group also called on the DFA to look into this matter and find out whether a bilateral talk between the Philippines and Macau can straighten out this issue. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

SO Pano NA? - NAGKAISA Labor Coalition Statement on the First State of the Nation of Address of the Marcos Jr. Administration

Filipinos deserve working systems, especially in times of crises. Each and every family should not have to worry about their commute, how to afford basic necessities, healthcare, and quality education. Our government not only has the resources, but is morally and politically responsible to ensure that all Filipinos enjoy a dignified, secure life. States that cannot guarantee a decent life for their citizens quickly lose the legitimacy for their power.

The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition calls on the Marcos Jr. administration to respond to the multiple crises we Filipinos are facing with urgency and seriousness. More than two months since the 2022 national elections, Filipino workers need answers for our pressing needs, not just empty promises of “unity”.

With soaring inflation, high gas prices, and the persistent threat of Covid-19, we cannot afford a government that is not decisive, or at the very least clear about what it plans to do. NAGKAISA challenges Marcos Jr. to be faithful to his call for Filipinos to unite. Rather than a blind unity that is based on loyalty to a politician, we workers understand unity as bayanihan, the cooperation of Filipinos with each other towards a common goal.

However, it is impossible for us to unite if the working people are not included in decision-making processes. We cannot work together based on empty words and silence. The government must allow the labor and progressive movements to be involved in making the decisions, setting the policies, and identifying ways forward to collectively overcome our present situation. The people’s question is simple, if Marcos Jr. is quiet, if the public is not informed of the government’s plans, thenano na?

To this end, NAGKAISA demands concrete plans from the administration of Marcos Jr. to respond to the multiple crises working people face.We call on his government to respond to our demands and act on our recommendations. Our proposals include the revisiting of the oil deregulation law to curb oil prices, adequate support for frontliners, service contracting for transport workers, as well as a public jobs program, among others.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

SO-papaano-NA? Hindi sapat na magkaisa lang sa harap ng maraming problema

Limang araw mula ngayon ay haharap na sa bansa ang bagong Pangulo para sa kanyang unang State of the Nation Address (SONA). Lahat ay nakaabang - walang naghahating kulay – mula sa kapansin-pansin na kawalan (emptiness) ng malinaw na programa ng Pangulong Bongbong Marcos mula panahon ng kampanya hanggang sa unang tatlong linggo ng kanyang panunungkulan.
Sa dalawang press conference ng Pangulo ay lalo lamang tumingkad ang naturang kawalan. Sa harap ito ng nagsasalimbayang krisis dahil sa nagpapatuloy na pandemya, sumisirit na implasyon, krisis sa pagkain, trabaho, nanganganib na mga karapatan, at lumalalang krisis sa klima at kalikasan.
Alam ng lahat na hindi sapat ang magkaisa lamang para malutas ang mga suliraning ito, katulad sa hiningi sa Sambayanan noong nakalipas na halalan. Ang hiling ng batayang mga sektor sa bagong pamunuan ay makatotohanang solusyon sa krisis sa pagkain, kalusugan, trabaho, karapatan, at kalikasan.
Maraming magugutom dahil sa 6.4% na implasyon sa pagkain. Dagdag na pasanin ang mas mataas na implasyon sa iba pang gastusin sa bahay, kuryente, tubig, gas at iba pa na umakyat ng 136% mula June 2021. Hiling namin na gawing prayoridad ang kasapatan sa pagkain sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalakas sa sariling produksyon, hindi ang pagsandig sa importasyon katulad ng rice tariffication. Dapat na ring talikuran ang deregulasyon at pribatisasyon ng pampublikong mga serbisyo na lalong nagpapabigat sa cost-of-living ng mga Pilipino.
Nananatiling ‘jobless at low-wage growth’ ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas at namayani ang endo sa lahat ng industriya. Nakabalik na sa pre-pandemic level ang unemployment rate (6%), pero ang mga trabaho ay hindi regular, self-employment o hindi sahuran, at mababa ang sweldo. Hiling namin ay itigil ang endo, itaas ang sweldo, at lumikha ng mga trabaho, kabilang ang guaranteed employment. Ang planong “rightsizing” ng burukrasya ay hindi magiging makatarungan kung walang konsultasyon sa mga kawani at hindi nabigbigyang-tugon ang isyu ng dumadaming unfilled plantilla positions at kalakarang contractual/job order sa gobyerno.
Hindi labor export kundi sapat na proteksyon para sa lahat ng naghahanapbuhay, kasama ang nasa labas ng bansa at komprehnsibong reintegrasyon para sa mga nagsibalik at nais bumalik.
Patuloy ang pag-unlad sa negosyo sa real estate tulad ng mga condo, resort, casino at entertainment, pero sa socialized housing ay 6.5M unit ang backlog. Maglaan ng malaking pondo ang estado para dito, kabilang ang suporta sa kanilang transisyon sa renewable energy.
Nabubuhay ang mga Pilipino na may garantisadong mga karapatan sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas at mga kumbensyong internayunal. May pagkakataon ang bagong liderato na ituwid ang kakulangan at kasalanan ng mga nagdaang administrasyon. At bagama’t mahirap asahan ang ganitong pangarap sa ilalim ni Marcos Jr., ang Konstitusyon mismo ang nag-aatas sa kanya, katulad din sa iba, na gawing makatao at rights-based ang kanilang pamamahala.
Pagkain, trabaho at kaligtasan sa karahasan ang kailangan ng lahat, kabilang ang kababaihan, hindi pabuya sa mga nasa kapangyarihan. Nabubuhay ang mga Pilipino na kulang sa social protection. Hindi lubos ang ating universal healthcare at kapos ang mga serbisyo sa kababaihan, kabataan, matatanda, at PWDs, lalo’t higit ang mga mula sa kanayunan at katutubong komunidad. Magbalangkas ng dagdag at bagong programa para sa mga ito. Higit na gutom ang kaharap ng mga maralita sa nayon at lungsod dahil sa pagbabawas ng mga benepisyaryo ng 4Ps. Sila ay hindi kriminal. Tama lang na repormahin ang programang ito, pero idaan sa tamang proseso ng rebyu at ebalwasyon ayon sa isinasaad ng batas, hindi ang basta i-Tulfo.
Kaharap ng administrasyon ngayon ang usapin ng pananagutan (accountability) sa human rights violations ng nagdaang administrasyon, kabilang ang pagharap sa International Criminal Court ng dating Pangulong Duterte, pagsikil sa press freedom, red tagging sa human rights defenders sa ibat-ibang sector at mga community leaders, kabilang ang patuloy na pagpiit kay Sen. Leila De Lima. Ang kabiguang mabigyan ng hustiya ang mga paglabag na ito ay lalong magpapasama sa kalagayan ng karapatang pantao sa bansa. Kabilang sa aming kahilingan ang maipasa ang human rights defenders protection bill.
Sa mga komunidad sa kanayunan, lalo na sa loob ng mga lupaing ninuno, ang kahilingan ay iligtas ang kanilang komunidad sa mapanalantang pagmimina sa pamamagitan ng pagbawi sa ginawang pag-lift ng administrasyong Duterte sa moratorium on open-pit mining at withdrawal sa Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). Kaugnay nito ay magpatawag ang bagong administrasyon ng environmental summit, nang sa gayon ay mapag-usapan hindi lamang ang kwestyunableng mga kontrata sa pagmimina, kundi maging ang pagpasa ng Kongreso sa Alternative Minerals Management Bill, Sustainable Forestry Management, National Land Use Act, at Indigenous and Community Conservation Act.
Panghuli, hindi pa nakakaalpas ang bansa at maging ang buong mundo sa pandemya. Sa mga ulat ay paparami ulit ang mga kaso at dumadami rin ang mga variants. Iniwan ng administrasyong Duterte na palpak ang pandemic response, subalit dagdag lamang na pangamba ang kawalan pa ng malinaw na direksyon dito sa kasalukuyan. Hindi pa nakakapili ng permanenteng kalihim sa DOH, pero nakabulaga na ang planong face-to-face na pagbubukas ng klase ngayong Agosto na hindi malinaw ang mga protocol.
Hinihiling namin sa pagbubukas ng klase ng kabataan at pagbabalik trabaho ng marami ay palawakin ang pagpaplano lagpas sa pagbabakuna kundi sa pagpapalakas pa ng ating healthcare system, kagalingan ng ating healthcare workers, sapat at ligtas na transportasyon, at ayuda sa mga bulnerableng sektor.
Mag-aabang kami ng malinaw na estratehiya para sa mga ito sa darating na SONA. Magsusuri kung may pag-asang darating. At papalag kung ang direksyon ay mas patungo sa bangin.
NAGKAISA​      KALIPUNAN         iDEFEND         MATA       WMW       TSM

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Labor coalition urges gov’t to act on reported cases of disappearances of labor activists

A coalition of labor organizations, on Thursday, called on concerned government agencies, including top officials in Malacanang, to immediately act on the disappearance of several labor and peasant activists in Central Luzon as reported in the media.

Nagkaisa Chairperson Sonny Matula, said reports of new disappearances, if true, sends a chilling reminder to the nation of this cruel act under martial law being repeated under Marcos Jr.  

“We are alarmed by this report as it brings back memories of what his father has done more than three decades ago. We urge the President himself to order his security forces to surface the missing persons in the report who disappeared after they were detained,” said Matula. 

He added that until a missing person presumed of having been arrested by state forces is surfaced and charged of specific crime, his/her arrest and detention can never be justified.

Matula, a lawyer and one of the petitioners against the controversial anti-terror law, argued that even under the ATL, authorities are allowed to hold “suspects” without charges for 10-24 days only. 

The missing persons, Juat and Magbanua, were reported to have already been arrested on May 3, while the others on the first week of July.
Nagkaisa furthered that the right to organize is a guaranteed right thus it wants a firm commitment from the new government that labor rights are not only honored but most importantly, protected in all places at all times.  

In relation to this, Nagkaisa reiterated its call for the government to speed up inviting the International Labor Organization’s High-Level Mission into the country, so that official investigations on similar yet pending cases of extra-judicial killings, arrests, and trade union repression under the Duterte government are set into motion. 

The Philippines remains in the list of 10 countries where trade union work is most dangerous, according to lates report of the International Trade Union Conference (ITUC).

Sunday, July 10, 2022

NAGKAISA Endorses Draft Bangsamoro Labor Code

The NAGKAISA Labor Coalition favorably endorses the draft Bangsamore Labor and Employment Code for legislation by the Bangsamoro Parliament.

More than a hundred participants from labor groups in the region joined the Bangsamoro Labor Summit organized by the Office of the Member of Parliament Romeo Sema.

The members of country's biggest labor coalition participated in said activity. The Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progressibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) , Public Service Labor  Independent Confederation (PSLINK) and the Associated Labor Union ALU-TUCP)  were among the participants. They joined all the other participants in endorsing the adoption of the Bangsmoro Labor Code and other social legislation by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

NAGKAISA lauded the effort of MP Sema, chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment, who promised to earnestly work for the incorporation of various amendments forwarded by labor groups during the conference. 

The Nagkaisa leaders were elated to note that freedom of association for all workers is well protected and the provisions on security of tenure  have better protection in the Bangsamoro Labor Code  than the Philippine Labor Code.

The two-day summit, which is in partnership with the International Labour Organization, aims to provide a venue for development partners to discuss, clarify, and address concerns on the proposed Bangsamoro Labor and Employment Code and other labor and employment-related measures.

In his video message, Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim called for the immediate passage of the proposed bills, which include the Bangsamoro Magna Carta for Workers in the Informal Economy; Bangsamoro Tripartism and Social Dialogue; the Bangsamoro Public Service Eligibility Equivalency Act; and the Bangsamoro Labor Justice Administration Act.

"The government of the day is one with the committee in calling for the immediate passage of the much-needed legislation to make the lives of the labor force much better," Chief Minister Ebrahim said. 

MP Sema reiterated the importance of the active  involvement of Bangsamoro workers in exercising their rights to participate in policy and decision-making as enunciated in the Bangsamoro Organic Law.###

Thursday, January 13, 2022

NAGKAISA! Statement on the Covid-19 Surge this January 2022

In moments of extreme crisis, governments have the responsibility to provide effective leadership and assure people that they will not be abandoned. States that consistently fail to deliver on their duties do not deserve the mandate to govern. In this light, the present surge of Covid-19 cases within the first month of 2022 is a serious danger to millions of Filipinos that demands decisive action from the Philippine government. 

The NAGKAISA! Labor coalition asserts that what we need is a comprehensive, people-centered, and health-based pandemic response to successfully overcome the present surge and to prevent similar events in the future. This requires more than widespread vaccination but also the employment of more compassionate, free, and accessible health protocol procedures rather than simply reverting back to heavy-handed lockdown measures. 

We call on the Philippine government to get its act together. While continuing to ramp up vaccination efforts, it must take steps to provide free mass testing to all those that require it, ensure sufficient resources for contact tracing (including job security for contact tracers), hire more health workers, and provide frontliners decent compensation and wages in order to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed. These are the crucial steps towards creating a proactively competent pandemic response system. 

More than two years into the present pandemic, organized labor, the private sector, as well as the general public are in desperate need of decisive leadership. Now is not the time for punitive measures such as prohibiting the unvaccinated from accessing public transportation. Recent moves such as the DILG’s order for LGUs to list the names of the unvaccinated resemble more a witch-hunt to merely punish and shame people, instead of actually working on providing a systematic pandemic response. 

The government must step up to provide us with a coherent plan against Covid-19, not blame the rising cases merely on a lack of discipline or the failure to comply with health protocols. In a situation where RT-PCR testing remains very expensive for most Filipinos, to what extent can we realistically expect our people to simply “follow the rules”? 

To avoid daily infections in the tens of thousands or even more, the government must open spaces for meaningful policy dialogue and participation in decision-making for organized labor. Trade unions, together with other stakeholders, must have a voice in designing and implementing the country’s pandemic response. Our national Covid-19 strategy must be centered on providing dignified and secure lives to all Filipinos as we collectively weather this present situation.  

NAGKAISA believes that the legacy of this administration will be measured primarily by the number of lives it is able to save, the decent jobs it is able to provide, and the security that it is able to guarantee to millions of Filipinos during one of the most challenging moments in our nation’s history.

NAGKAISA Labor Coalition
13 January 2022

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Nagkaisa! Calls for New Initiative to End Armed Conflict

Today, in commemoration of world peace day, the biggest labor coalition in the country calls for an end to trade union repression, extra-judicial killings and to end Asia’s longest running armed Conflict.

Nagkaisa Labor coalition (N1) asserts that Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs is a complete failure. After causing the death of tens of thousands, Mr. Duterte himself admits that his administration is nowhere close to delivering its promise of ending the drug-menace that he claims to have engulfed our society.

Meanwhile, Mr. Duterte is also a dismal failure in his peace initiative with the communist insurgency, even after the CPP other Maoist organizations enabled his administration in its first few years.

The bloody war on drugs, together with the declaration of an all-of-society approach to wipe out the armed communist insurgency, created a climate of impunity that paved the way for extra-judicial killings, turning the Philippines into one of the most dangerous countries for trade unionists, human rights and environmental activists, lawyers and journalists.

Enough killings! It’s time to give peace a chance.

In this context, NAGKAISA calls for an end to the bloody wars in drugs.

It also calls for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that has been responsible for widespread red-tagging now being experienced by the labor movement and other social movements. Nagkaisa believes that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process should take over its tasks.

In preparation for a new administration, the Nagkaisa also calls on the leaders of Christian churches, Muslim communities , trade unions and civil society groups to initiate measures for the de-escalation of violence and to  stop the rampage of EJKs in urban and rural communities.

Faith-based, non-governmental and civil society groups need to offer an alternative. Instead of keeping their guns blazing, warring factions of society, an alternative forum must be initiated that should hold genuine peace talks that seriously seek an end to armed conflicts on the basis of social justice and the common good.