HUNDREDS of workers from the socialist alliance
Manggagawang Sosyalista (MASO), comprised of militant and anti-capitalist “Red
unions” assembled today at the labor department offices in Intramuros, Manila
before marching to Mendiola to press for the abolition of all forms of contractualization,
not just the much-hated “endo or 5-5-5 employment scheme”.
wants a Department of Labor and Employers
At the workers program in Intramuros, Lino Brin,
MASO chairperson and president of the Pag-asa Steel union said, “The workers
call on DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello to take the sides of the workers rather
than adopt a flimsy seemingly neutral stance on the nefarious employment scheme
that has led to a cheap and docile labor force”.
“The so-called win-win solution proposed by the
trade department and echoed by Secretary Bello seeks to regularize workers at
their contractors rather than to the principals who utilize contracting and
subcontracting arrangements to replace regular employees with cheaper
contractual workers,” he added.
Brin explained, “Bello should act, not just as the
alter-ego of President Duterte who has promised to stop contractualization
during the electoral campaign but as the representative of labor, which is
recognized by the 1987 Constitution as the “primary social economic force” and
should be granted „full protection by the State‟. He should leave the DTI
Secretary to be the champion of investors. From the last time we check, the
DOLE is not named “department of labor and employers”.
Contractualization: A Promise Undelivered
At around noon, the workers proceeded to march to
Mendiola via Quezon and Recto Avenues. At the march, MASO vice chair Ding
Villasin of Socialista asserted, “President Duterte rode on the crest of the
people‟s anger towards elitist democracy that was restored after EDSA 1986.
Part of his electoral rhetoric was his harsh words against abusive employers
who employ contractual workers in order to cheapen their labor costs. Yet, after
several months in office, no stone was unturned. The abolition of
contractualization remains an undelivered campaign promise.
She furthered, “If President Duterte was able to
enact „freedom of information‟ for the Executive branch. We challenge him to
abolish contractualization in the same branch, to which he has full control of,
as Chief Executive. After all, the Philippine government remains as the
country‟s number one employer of contractual workers”.
At Mendiola, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino
(BMP) chair Leody de Guzman declared, “Before the year closes, we fear that
both the DTI and DOLE will railroad the passage of the so-called win-win
solution at both houses of the legislative.
“To inflict another wound to the already injured
working class would transform the public sentiment, from that which passively
seeks the change promised during the May elections to that of a labor-led
independent movement of the people that would actively pursue social change and
meaningful reforms, not from above but from below,” de Guzman concluded. #
Duterte’s defense of cop who rammed protesters itself an act of violence
against the people
This week, we watched with horror
as a police officer repeatedly and brazenly rammed scores of protesters in
broad daylight in front of hundreds of people. We gasped at the sight of men
lying under a police van, about to be run over. We witnessed how heavily-armed
cops truncheoned water-cannoned, and beat up protesters It was the most violent
dispersals we have seen in years.
The least that the President
could have said was:
“I extend my solidarity to all
those who were hurt. I strongly denounce the violence committed by the police.
What they did was will not be tolerated under this government. I reprimand and
I will move to file charges against the police officers who—as numerous video
reports clearly showed—used disproportionate force against the protesters and
violated their right to protest.”
Instead, after two days of
silence while the rest of us boiled with anger and demanded justice, the
President has instead chosen to act as a lawyer for the police.
Instead of saying the only thing
that must be said in the face of what happened—-i.e. that the violence was
unacceptable—he instead echoed the line of those who have chosen to justify the
cop’s unjustifiable actions. More than that, he even invited the cop to
Malacanang “for coffee.”
We at the Bukluran ng
Manggagawang Pilipino are not entirely surprised by this response: This, after
all, is the same President who has repeatedly said that he will protect and
pardon any cop accused of committing human rights violations, who has said that
he is “happy to slaughter” more than 3,000 criminals, and who wants to bury
Marcos—the dictator who ran over the lives of thousands—as a “hero.”
But, while not surprising, his
response is still shocking and unacceptable. By choosing to lawyer for the cops
and refusing to condemn their blatant abuse of power, Duterte is in effect
telling cops: “It’s OK to ram protesters. You will just be ‘investigated’ and
invited to have coffee with the President. And he is in effect telling us:
“Don’t count on the police not to run you over in case you decide to fight for
As commander-in-chief, the
President bears command-responsibility for the shocking violence that happened
this week. He certainly did not create the climate of impunity that now reigns
in our country. But by repeatedly shielding abusive cops and now refusing to
condemn the shocking violence they had just committed, he has certainly further
reinforced it—encouraging many other cops to think they really can get away
with attempted murder.
We reiterate our demand for
justice and we call for accountability—not just from the cops, but also from
the President himself.
Socialist group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
expressed grave concern that several members of the cabinet are actively
working against the fulfillment of the economic reforms vowed by President
Rodrigo Duterte himself.
Days ago, the government’s
so-called economic managers ganged-up and rejected the P125 national wage
increase proposal, that according to them would push inflation rates to 9.7
percent and spike unemployment by 1.2 percent
The group identified Secretaries
Ramon Lopez, Ernesto Pernia, Benjamin Diokno and Silvestre Bello of the trade,
socioeconomic planning, budget, and labor departments respectively as
‘obstacles’ to the realization of the president’s wishes that the BMP said
“could have made positive impacts in the lives of millions of ordinary folks”.
“The alter egos of the president
in the economic cluster are clearly on the opposite side of their superior and
the heavily taxed ordinary folks who pay for their salaries. The secretaries
have been consistently active in countering measures that the president has
explicitly declared. More importantly, they are not only defying the
president’s orders but betraying the trust between him and the nation,” the
group’s spokesperson, Attorney Luke Espiritu said.
Among the economic reforms that
the secretaries have opposed despite the president’s open support, according to
Espiritu is the abolition of all forms of contractual employment, the
establishment of a national wage board, a substantial wage increase for the
public and private sector as well as the ban on land conversion.
He also accused the cabinet
officials of “poisoning the mind” of the president into withdrawing his
promises and to fear mongering.
“If they are not fulfilling the
wishes of the president or that of the taxpayers, then whose interests are they
working for, Espiritu inquired.
BMP fears that other measures
that will substantially raise the quality of life of millions living below the
poverty line will receive the similar fate as the wage increase proposal.
He likewise reminded the
officials that, “It is the overwhelming support of working class that
catapulted Duterte to power for they believed that he can affect change they
seek. This government must serve the interests of the many and not of the
“With the way things are going
and not unless they are removed from their posts immediately”, Espiritu warned
that the recently issued Executive Order No. 5, adopting the “Ambisyon 2040”, a
long-term development plan aimed at tripling Filipinos’ per capita income to
$11,000 in 24 years’ time “will remain to be a bureaucratic pipedream”.
“If the President really sides
with the overburdened workers then he must on guard at all times from his
subordinates and terminate them at the smallest infraction they commit,”
The group, last week demanded the
president to fire trade Secretary Lopez for his efforts to block the abolition
of all forms of contractualization.#
President Duterte must condemn and punish cops who attacked protesters
We at the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino condemn the violent dispersal of
the nonviolent protests of indigenous peoples belonging to the newly formed
Sandugo alliance at the US embassy today and at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.
Over fifty of our brothers and
sisters were hurt when the police and the military used disproportionate force
to break up their protest. Many were injured when a police vehicle repeatedly
rammed the crowd of unarmed protesters.
This is shocking and unacceptable
under any circumstances. But it is even more intolerable under a government
that has promised to champion the rights of indigenous peoples and other
oppressed classes, under a President who claims to be the first ‘leftist’ or
‘socialist’ President of the country.
As commander-in-chief of the
country’s police and military, President Rodrigo Duterte has command
responsibility over the state’s repressive forces. As such, he too is
ultimately responsible for these forces’ actions.
To prove that he is committed to
upholding our freedom to assemble and protest and to demonstrate that he
supports our indigenous sisters’ and brothers’ struggle for their rights, he
must immediately and publicly castigate the military and police officials
responsible for this crackdown.
At the very least, he must
immediately order disciplinary actions against—and if need be fire—Franklin
Kho, the driver of the police vehicle that rammed the group of protesters and
Marcelino Pedrozo, the officer who ordered the violent dispersal.
Any hesitation or refusal on his
part to strongly denounce this shocking use of force will only further
intensify the reigning climate of impunity that he has further fanned with his
repeated pronouncements that he will protect and pardon all police officers
accused of human rights violations.
It is this climate of impunity
that is already leading officers of the law to think they can get away with
anything—even attempted murder in front of cameras.
The struggle of the indigenous
peoples is inseparable from our struggle as workers. An attack on them is an
attack on us all.
All Senators’ bills fail to challenge contractualization
Below is the position paper on the Senate bills on contractualization
and security of tenure of workers issued by the Bukluran ng Manggagawang
Pilipino National Executive Committe on October 13, 2016:
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) welcomes various
initiatives by lawmakers to address contractualization and other controversies
regarding job security, in the form of legislative proposals to address a
problem, which has long been branded by the organized labor movement as a
scourge on labor rights and welfare.
But all the proposals,
particularly Senate Bills 217 (Hontiveros), 174 (Aquino), 117 (Pimentel), 302
(Zubiri), 329 (Ejercito), 1061 (Poe), and 1116 (Villanueva), fail to address
the legal basis for contractualization; no other than Articles 106 to 109 of
the Labor Code, which pertains to contracting and subcontracting agreements.
As a workers’ organization, we
are not composed of lawyers but of trade unionists who are day-to-day
practitioners of laws on labor relations. But we all still know that provisions
on job contracting undermine Article 280 of the said code, which states that
regular employees are those who perform “usually necessary or desirable” in the
normal operations of a business.
Articles 106 to 109 provides the
loophole for the so-called “principals” in these trilateral agreements to use
contractors and subcontractors that provide cheaper and more docile workers to
carry out work that should be performed by their regular employees.
These provisions not only
obfuscate employee-employer relationships. In the processes of union building,
workers become victims of finger-pointing between principals and the labor
agencies on who should negotiate with the newly-formed union regarding wages,
benefits, and work conditions.
More so, these provisions
reinforce the capitalist blackmail of “work or starve”, as the threat of
unemployment constantly hovers, like Damocles’ sword, on contractual workers
who could be fired anytime by simply terminating their employment contracts.
Contractualization, legalized by
Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code, is tantamount to cheap and docile labor.
It is a problem that affects millions, especially if we include the families
who rely on casual workers for their daily sustenance and upkeep.
According to the May 2016 Labstat
Updates of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), based on the 2013/2014
Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment, out of a total of 4.472 million
workers in firms with twenty (20) or more employees, 1.336 million (29.87%) are
non-regular workers. This data does not include those employed in small and
micro establishments, which comprise more than 90% of employers in the country.
If the 1.336 million contractuals
in large firms provide for the needs of a family of five, we have 6.68 million
Filipinos who are affected by low wages and the lack of job security due to
Hence, the BMP believes that only
a bill that would repeal Articles 106 to
109 and the prohibit contracting of
“usually necessary or desirable” work, pursuant to Article 280 of the Labor
Code would actually begin to bring an end to contractualization. Employment of
contractual labor, in order to depress wages and deny regular status to workers
should be regarded as a criminal offense.
Such harsh penalties, as
proposed, are guided by state policies enshrined in the Constitution. Labor,
states Article 2, Section 18, is the “primary social economic force”. Because
labor should enjoy primacy over non-human inputs in production and commerce,
the charter orders the state to provide “FULL PROTECTION to labor” (Article 13,
Section 3, emphasis ours).
The State should guarantee
workers their immutable rights in the work place – a fitting tribute to their
undervalued contribution to economic development. It is hence but appropriate
to treat the deprivation of the workers’ due, their basic entitlements and
social protection as criminal transgressions which must not be countenanced by
Indeed, the State owes a
ballooning social debt to workers who should, as a matter of Constitutional
mandate, be entitled to living wage, participation in decision-making processes
affecting their rights and benefits, unhampered self-organization, among
Hence, the BMP challenges Congress to tread the right direction, consistent
with this mandate, by plugging the legal loopholes that permit
contractualization and the further detriment of labor rights and welfare.
Ending contractualization, which
has been declared as a policy by no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
himself, is a step in this rightful course.
End contractualization now!
Uphold the right of workers to
security of tenure!
During the election campaign,
President Rodrigo Duterte won the hearts of many workers when he promised to
immediately end “contractualization,” or the practice of not giving workers the
wages and benefits they should receive under the law by hiring them as
“contractual” rather than regular workers.
Then, during his inaugural
speech, President Duterte said that his government will be guided in part by
former US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s statement that, “The test of
government is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much;
it is whether we provide for those who have little.”
Today, one person in the
President’s Cabinet has gone out of his way to prevent the President from
fulfilling his campaign promise and from passing the test that Roosevelt set.
Since he assumed office,
Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez has consistently opposed
measures to end contractualization that we at the Bukluran ng Manggagawang
Pilipino, along with other labor groups in the country, have been demanding.
Recently, Lopez even championed
the so-called “win-win” but in fact win-lose solution that purportedly seeks a
middle-ground between capitalists and workers but in fact again ultimately
harms the interests of workers since it will continue to force them to live a
life of precarity and near-destitution while allowing the rich to earn more
profits and live a life of luxury on the back of contractual workers.
Yesterday, he again spoke out to
defend contractualization by saying that ending it would make the country less
attractive to foreign investors by removing their “flexibility”—as if
“flexibility” for investors has not come and will not come at the expense of
the well-being of Filipino workers.
every step of the way, then, Lopez and his department has represented not the
interests of Filipino workers but of capitalists—Filipino and foreign. He fails
the test that Roosevelt set because he wants to “add more to the abundance of
those who have much” rather than “provide for those who have little.”
doing, he is challenging and defying President Duterte himself since the
President has said that he wants to “provide for those who have little” and he
has promised to end contractualization.
This, then, is an important
moment for the President—another early test forcing him to choose whose side he
will take and whose interests he will protect.
the President really cares about Filipino workers, if he really wants to to
“provide for those who have little,” then he should match his rhetoric with
action and do what needs to be done: he should immediately fire those in his
Cabinet who favor contractualization.
More than this, he should
immediately take steps needed to end labor flexibilization once and for all by:
1) certifying as urgent – and mobilizing all his party mates to pass – a bill
to amend Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code in order to prohibit the
contracting and subcontracting of “usually necessary or desirable” work in the
normal operations of a business, which should be performed by regular
employees, in line with Article 280 of said law; 2) revising the BMBE law so as
to remove the exemptions to labor standards compliance of small and micro
establishments, which comprise more than 90% of the employers’ sector; 3)
repealing DOLE’s DO 18-A and issuing a new order which reviews all existing
subcontracting arrangements and cancels those that encroach upon the duties and
functions, which should done by regular employees; 4) actually prosecuting
employers that practice contractualization, starting with the Sys, the Ayalas,
the Gokongweis and others.
Otherwise, if he allows the
pro-contractualization Lopez to stay in his Cabinet and if he does not carry
out all these steps immediately, it will become harder and harder for us not to
confirm what many of us have long suspected but wanted the President to refute:
That he did not really mean what
he said when he said he would end contractualization, that he does not really
care for all Filipinos but just for his fellow elites, and that he will not
really bring about real change—just like all his predecessors.