Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Senate’s chacha dance unnecessary, out of step – Nagkaisa!

Leading the charter change (chacha) dance this time is totally unnecessary and out of step for the Senate, the Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition declared in a statement, a week after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri himself led the Senate majority in the filing of Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 (RBH 6) which aims to amend the economic provision of the 1987 Constitution through a Constituent Assembly (ConAss).

Protesting outside the Senate gates on Tuesday, Nagkaisa! members called on Zubiri to redirect his focus to the pressing demands of workers, including a wage hike, an end to labor contractualization (endo), and employment guarantees to address the chronic jobs crisis in the country. Their rallying cry: "Sahod itaas, Chacha i-atras!"

Josua Mata, Convenor of Nakakaisa! and Secretary-General of Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), expressed disappointment, stating, "SP Zubiri made significant promises to workers last year, vowing to enact a P150 across-the-board wage hike. Now, it seems he's shifting focus to cha-cha, an agenda unrelated to labor concerns."

Mata cautioned against a dubiously assembled ConAss, suggesting it could veer off course, impacting not only the economic provisions but also the political structures, catering to trapos’ (traditional politician) perpetual lust for power.

Addressing the diversionary tactics, Judy Miranda, Nagkaisa Women Committee Head and Partido Manggagawa (PM) Secretary-General, accused cha-cha proponents of diverting attention, energy, and resources from issues directly affecting 99% of Filipinos. She emphasized the urgency of prioritizing the P150 wage hike bill and creating more jobs, especially for women, over alien bids to acquire 100% land ownership and control of Philippine businesses.

Citing survey results from Pulse Asia and OCTA, Miranda underscored that over two-thirds of Filipinos are more concerned about inflation, wage hikes, and job creation than constitutional changes. She also criticized politicians for denying their complicity in maintaining poverty under a capitalist system that concentrates 90% of national wealth in the hands of the 0.1%.

Nagkaisa Chair and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Sonny Matula reiterated the call he made earlier that the government rather address workers' core concerns: higher wages, job security, and the freedom to organize for collective bargaining. He criticized the Charter change initiative for diverting attention and resources away from these pressing issues.

Nagkaisa! pledged to actively oppose moves to revise the Constitution, announcing plans to collaborate with broader sectors to build an anti-cha-cha movement. The group aims to present workers' agendas as a compelling counter-narrative against pro-alien and pro-dynasty arguments.