As Filipino workers celebrate the 113th anniversary of the first Labor Day in the Philippines, workers from the Southern Tagalog region trooped to the streets to protest the “continuing neoliberal offensive against the workers”.
Led by militant regional labor center PAMANTIK-KMU, various labor unions, associations and alliances in the region started the day by spearheading community hops to invite more workers and citizens to the regional program, which ensued the wing programs in Calamba, Laguna by 1 in the afternoon, where workers massed up on.
The program then followed with a military drill, as workers dressed in camisa de chino and jogging pants marched in center to begin the parade of the international labor movement’s Five Great Leaders: Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong. The four marching wings then merged at the center of the major thoroughfare.
The thousands-strong delegation marched with a 7-foot effigy depicting a blood-stained Aquino in a jail cell, with a backdrop of the US flag and a yellow-colored path.
PAMANTIK-KMU secretary general Allan Bagas explained as “the people’s conviction of BS Aquino as the Massacre King on the lives of the workers and people of Southern Tagalog”.
“BS Aquino’s string of neoliberal policies have massacred the workers and the Filipino people. We do not want him to run away with his lies and his transgressions to the workers and the people,” Bagas said.
He said that the contractualization scheme has been too much for the workers of Southern Tagalog, as protests and strikes of contractual workers became prominent last year.
Currently, the seven to nine out of ten workers are victimized by contractual arrangements, with more affected by the illegal scheme of labor-only contracting.
“BS Aquino leaves Malacañang with so many in direr conditions, as people cannot find worthy jobs with living wages – due to his implemented policies,” Bagas added.
Aquino’s administration was the progenitor of the Two-Tiered Wage System, which according to labor groups like PAMANTIK, trapped wages to its lowest. Also, calls for the return of the National Minimum Wage and an across-the-board wage increase, among other demands for better living and working conditions, consequently fell into deaf ears.
Bagas said that they also demand for the end of US imperialism, as chief propagator of neoliberal economic policies that the Filipino people feel today as price hikes, wage drops and the ensuing state neglect on their democratic rights.
“Ultimately, it is in giving the death blow for US imperialism that we can really hope for genuine freedom and democracy. The six years of Aquino only increased the privatization of social services and the lowering of wages – and whoever may be elected, the semifeudal and semicolonial social system will make sure this continues,” he added.
“Only through struggling and uniting against the enemies of the people; which is imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism – the core causes of poverty in this society – can we truly uphold our dignity as a key force of production,” ended Bagas.
Alongside the call for the end of contractualization and other neoliberal policies, PAMANTIK also posited the alternative as the resumption of the strugglew for national democracy with a socialist perspective.
The regional program ended by 5 in the afternoon.
Besides the regional program in Calamba, PAMANTIK-KMU, along with its provincial affiliates, also held protests today at the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) in Rosario, Cavite; Antipolo, Rizal; and Plaza Mabini in Batangas City, Batangas. # # #