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.