Workers groups today presented the “sorry state of labor” in a forum that served as a buildup activity to the coming counter-SONA protest on Monday. “In his forthcoming SONA, Presidentwill boast of his administration’s so-called inclusive growth. But to workers and the poor, GNP growth only means more ‘Gutom Na Pilipino,’” averred Renato Magtubo, national chair of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
Labor groups under the coalition Nagkaisa, including PM, discussed the “state of labor” in a whole-day forum at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City. More than 40 different workers groups comprise Nagkaisa which held a massive 20,000-strong rally last May 1 in Mendiola to banner its advocacy for a wage hike and regular jobs.
“PNoy may be garnering the confidence of investors but workers are utterly dismayed by his approval of contractualization at Philippine Airlines. Workers demand a new path of development away from globalization, privatization, contractualization and migration,” said Gerry Rivera, president of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA).
On Monday, PM, PALEA and Nagkaisa will mobilize several thousand workers in a counter-SONA rally in Quezon City. The labor rally will merge with a multisectoral mobilization of other groups such as the Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and human rights organizations.
Magtubo gave a presentation to the forum on the “miserable condition of workers and the poor despite the much vaunted increases in GNP and so-called inclusive growth.” He insisted that “From 2003-2009 the economy grew by an average of 4.8% but the number of poor Filipinos increased from 19.8 million to 23.1 million. Among the ASEAN nations, the Philippines have the most persistent incidence of poverty (defined as living on less than US$1.25 a day). The Philippines has the highest percentage of slum population as a percent of its urban population among six Asian countries.”
Meanwhile on the eve of the SONA, hundreds of urban poor residents of Bagong silang in Caloocan will join a funeral march to highlight the demand for quality public health care for all. A local PM youth leader in Caloocan named Andy Calipos died last week of leukemia but the disease remained undiagnosed and untreated despite being confined for two weeks at the Tala Hospital in Caloocan.
“PNoy’s SONA may mention Dolphy’s death but it will not give even a single word to the passing of Andy. Yet Andy’s plight reflects the suffering of millions of Filipinos under a deteriorating public health system due to cost-cutting and privatization,” Magtubo explained. Tomorrow the PM chapter in Caloocan will hold a “Luksang Parangal” for Calipos in Munting Nayon Phase 3 in Bagong Silang. A delegation from Bagong Silang will also participate in the counter- SONA rally to press for universal health coverage.