The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) held a rally this afternoon at the Senate before the start of today’s impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. More than a hundred PALEA members picketed the Senate from 12 noon to 1:00 pm in time for the expected testimony of Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) president Bob Anduiza on the recall of the Supreme Court decision on 1,800 flight attendants after a mere letter from Philippine Airlines (PAL) lawyer Estelito Mendoza.
In the protest, PALEA raised the call “Justice for workers, Reforms beyond Gloria and Corona” as a challenge to President Benigno Aquino III administration’s so-called campaign for good governance. “Aquino and Corona may be fighting over Hacienda Luisita and Gloria Arroyo but both are beholden to Lucio Tan as revealed by the FASAP and PALEA cases. The privileges extended to the Coronas by PAL are just the tip of the iceberg of the cozy relationship between public officials and Lucio Tan,” argued Gerry Rivera, PALEA president.
He added that “Workers want not just the prosecution of Gloria and her minions but the cleansing of all corrupt officials in the bureaucracy and further the institution of radical changes in the political and economic system. Without such thoroughgoing reforms then the purging of Gloria’s followers would just pave the way for the embedding of PNoy’s own cronies in government.”
Rivera explained that “As it stands now, the so-called campaign for good governance by PNoy looks no more than a factional fight among the elite. This is because there is no difference between the regimes of Arroyo and Aquino with regards to labor policy, neoliberal economics and social programs. The clash between Corona and PNoy looks more like a case of the kettle calling the teapot black and the teapot accusing the kettle of being ebony.”
Members of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) also joined PALEA in the rally at the Senate. Renato Magtubo, PM chair, said that “Like the rest of the people, we want to believe that the prosecution of Gloria and her followers is the start of fundamental reforms. But without any signs of real changes then such is mere wishful thinking.”
The call for fundamental reforms would be the banner demand for the May 1 commemoration and the rally today serves to jumpstart the early start of the Labor Day campaign.
Meanwhile PALEA continues to garner international support as tomorrow (February 6 Pacific Standard Time) the American union AFA-CWA, the biggest flight attendants union in the world, will submit a letter of concern to the PAL office at the Los Angeles international airport (LAX). AFA-CWA will hold an “Occufly” protest at LAX to slam corporate greed by airline companies.
The US flight attendants support for PALEA comes on the heels of protest actions earlier staged in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Toronto (Canada), Tokyo (Japan) and Hongkong. US unions and Filipino-American groups have also initiated a boycott PAL campaign.