Chicha Hindi Chacha: Workers Never Asked for Charter Change

Photo credit: Partido Manggagawa

Statement of  Partido Manggagawa at the Public Hearing on Proposed Amendment/Revision of the 1987 Constitution, Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments

February 1, 2018

Magandang hapon po sa ating kagalang-galang na tagapangulo, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, at sa mga kasapi ng dalawang komiteng ito ng Senado. Ganundin po sa lahat ng resource persons na nandirito ngayon. Una ay nagpapasalamat ang aming partido, ang Partido Manggagawa, sa inyong paanyaya na maging kabahagi ng pagdinig na ito. Bihirang bihira po kasi na natatanong ang batayang mga sektor kung ano ang aming pananaw sa mga pulitikal na bagay na katulad nito kung kaya’t sasamantalahin na po namin ang maikling oras at ispasyong ito para ibahagi ang aming mga pananaw tungkol dito.

Your honors, tungkol sa unang tanong kung kailangan na bang amyendahan o rebisahin ang 1987 Constitution. Kailanman ay hindi po naging kahilingan ng uring manggagawa ang charter change o chacha mula nang tangkain itong buksan noong panahon pa ni Pangulong Ramos, Estrada at Arroyo. Wala din ito sa aming mga kahilingan at agenda noong panahon ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino at maging sa panahon ngayon ni Pangulong Duterte.

Sa madaling salita, ang chacha ay hindi namin kahilingan. Dahil ang gusto po namin ay chicha, hindi chacha. Maari kayong matawa sa posisyong ito pero hindi po kami nagbibiro. Ang listahan ng aming mga kahilingan (11 lahat) ay opisyal na nakasumite sa Office of the President at siyang paksa ng aming mga negosasyon ngayon sa Malacanang, dito sa inyo sa Kongreso, at maging sa lansangan. Alam kasi namin na kung gugustuhin ninyo ay maari ninyo kaming mabigyan ng chicha kahit wala itong chacha.

Your honors, ang damdaming inihahayag namin dito ay kumpirmado rin ng mga isinagawang survey bago at matapos ang 2016 elections. Chicha at hindi chacha ang top 5 concerns ng mga Pilipino. Noong 2015 bago ang eleksyon ang mga ito ay:

  1. controlling inflation (45%),
  2. improving or increasing the pay of workers (42%),
  3. reducing poverty (38%),
  4. creating more jobs (34%), at
  5. fighting graft and corruption in government (34%)

Noong September 2016, o tatlong buwan matapos ang eleksyon, ay nagsagawa ulit ng parehong survey at halos hindi nagbago ang resulta:

  1. improving or increasing the pay of workers (46%),
  2. creating more jobs (38%),
  3. controlling inflation (37%),
  4. fighting graft and corruption in government (32%), at
  5. fighting criminality (31%).

Your honors, ang ‘chicha’ ay Filipino slang ng pagkain at para sa amin, ito po ay hindi simpleng bagay. Kinakatawan nito ang aming kabuhayan at karapatan kagaya ng pulso ng karamihang Pilipino sa isinagawang survey. Kaya nga po ang katumbas na mga kahilingan namin kaugnay nito ay ang mga ss:

  1. ganap na pagtigil sa kontrakwalisasyon,
  2. dagdag na sweldo at pagbabago sa sistema ng pagtatakda ng sweldo,
  3. kalayaan sa pag-uunyon, collective bargaining at strike,
  4. pagpapababa sa presyo ng kuryente,
  5. disenteng pabahay, at iba pa.

Para mangyari ito ay hindi naman kinakailangan ng pagbabago sa ating Saligang Batas. Sa katunayan, marami sa social justice provisions ng kasalukuyang konstitusyon ay hindi pa naipapatupad kagaya ng probisyon sa full employment at full protection of labor, living wage, land reform, at marami pang iba.

Ngayon kung hindi po sa aming mga batayang sektor galing ang kahilingan para sa chacha, sigurado kami na mas kilala at ramdam ninyo kung anong uri at saang kampo nagmumula ang ganitong agenda.

Hindi na kami magkokomento sa tanong kung aling pagbabago ang nais naming mangyari sa Konstitusyon dahil wala nga ito sa aming agenda ngayon. Pero tiyak darating din ang panahon – sa gugustuhin naming panahon – na kami mismo ang magtutulak nito kung kinakailangan. Sa ngayon po ay hindi.

Magbibigay lang kami ng kaunting opinyon sa lumalabas na pinakamalaking agenda ng itinutulak na chacha at ito ay tungkol sa pederalismo.

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The Church is of and for the poor.

Photo credit: Sijinius

Opinion: GOVERNANCE AND ECONOMICS OF REPRESSION

 

Its flock knows no boundaries of class, color, or status, yet still the Church is of and for the poor.

Yet now, its poor is circumscribed, marked, targeted and killed, all in the altar of repression. The present chief of state has chosen the poor to take the brunt of his governance and economics of repression – to suppress any and all opposition, even just criticism, to his rule and his aims, through police control, propaganda and an all-pervading fear.

And what is his ultimate and final aim? To assure his and his family’s long-term survival, his ultimate and final selfish goal: federalism, to carve out a large, federated state of his Davao area where his heirs can hold political sway for the next at least 100 years as he had done for the last 30 years. Because a federated state has equal powers to the central federal government, and this power can even be greatly exaggerated by Constitution-enshrined political and legal largesses, such that he and his heirs can be safely ensconced, not having to face the justiciable responsibility for the killings of thousands of the poor. And along the way, to build up the treasury and war chest for this powerful state of Davao, he has set out to be the biggest drug lord in the land, eliminating the other big drug lords who may rival him. The Philippines will revert to the dark days of federalism, with feudal warlords, and overlords.

In the economics of repression, he must increase the tax take of government (dissimulating it by decreasing personal income tax, but increasing all other excise and indirect taxes), being careful not to reach the economic survival limit of the middle class and the poor (providing for their most basic bodily needs), diverting their attention by lowering personal income tax), and channelling more government funding to the security forces (especially the police, never mind the teachers who wield no guns) and propaganda (the best way of enhancing your own propaganda is by suppressing opposing information like Rappler, Inquirer, and ABS-CBN). At present, his best and most effective propaganda is the BIG LIE which is resorted to by despots, which is that surveys show him to have at least 80% approval rating (manipulated by RP through the sub-contract survey arms of the major survey companies), while social media meter readings most currently show 97% against him in Facebook and 95% against him in Instagram (minus the army of trolls which are cheaply financed by him). Why 80% approval rating? If you were in the majority against him, you will wrongly think that your neighbors in front, to your right side and your left, and the one behind, are all for him. You are the lone wolf against him. Again, the use of fear. Notice the police, his firstline instrument of fear, even the lowest ranks are now buying new cars or new big bikes. Notice also that very recently just after one day of protest due to lack of salary increase, the teachers stopped — fear again.

In addition, in the economics of repression, a despot must make sure that a good-enough sizeable chunk of the added tax take goes into economic development (“Build, Build, Build”), for the long term economic survival of the country which would translate to his own rule having a better chance to be prolonged.

In governance, he has fully controlled the House of Representatives, and slowly working his way to seize control of the Senate. His efforts to fully control the other branches and agencies (Supreme Court by an effort to change the present Chief Justice with another of his choice, Associate Justice PV, the most corrupt justice ever; subverting and controlling the Constitutional change process, by having the head of the Advisory Committee, a former chief justice, another transactional magistrate; meddling and trying to control constitutional bodies like the Ombudsman, the ERC, CHED, and others) continue unabated. His vitriolics against them are fever pitch as he bulldozes everything in his path.

With this, the prospects for the poor are scary indeed. And soon, the despotic fear tactics and operation/s will spill-over and reach the D, C, B, with collateral effects on the A, segments. When the designated-hitmen-police get acclimatized to killings and more callous, then they won’t care at all who they kill-whoever gets in their way, be it part of their mission or not. Those who live by the law of the jungle know no bounds. Like the Ton Ton Macoutes hoodlum-police of Papa Doc Duvalier’s Haiti, who not only terrorized the general population but also the elite and the army officers.

We ask the People of the Church to stand up for its poor, doing it at the same time for its full flock.

Awake O freedom’s sword against this strickening malady, now, today, not tomorrow; for when the phone rings, the sirens scream out, the hospital or cell door slams shut loud, we find alas that it sounds for us or our family:   for loved ones, daughter or son, niece or nephew, or grandchild.

Huwag tayong malingat o malingon – ang kahirapan na parating ay manonoot sa ikabuturan natin.

Zizka

Philippine Democracy Under Threat

Photo credit: Blink

Fr. Shay Cullen
February 9, 2018

The young man, Jake 22 year old and single laughed when I asked him whom he voted for in the local elections for mayor. He said he abstained, but he went to the house of the mayor and received a payment all the same. “Why not”, he reasoned, “it was for free everyone was going there”.

The mayor was “reelected” and his local family dynasty, linked to a bigger family dynasty became more influential. His father before him had been mayor several times and then became a congressman. The families of the elites are connected by marriage and by political allegiance to candidates for the presidency. Family dynasties have, in reality, replaced political parties; the children of the politician usually succeed the parent in office. In Philippine democracy allegiances shift and change with the shift in political power.

That is the way it is in Philippine democracy. Votes are bought and those candidates with the most money and favors to give away will get back into power. They use that power to establish their reign continually through relatives. It is the dance of the dynasties that rule through the so-called democratic process in the country. It is flawed and what remains of the democratic process is under threat from its own inherent weakness.

The top family dynasties are immensely wealthy. In the Philippines there are eight leading US dollar billionaires and estimates claim that 1% of the populations are super rich and control 70 % of the economy and the wealth. There are ten million in poverty and 5.3 million in extreme poverty. Many of them will sell their “democratic” vote to the highest bidder. Political power is essential for the dynasties to survive. The constitution demands an end to dynastic families but no legislation has been passed banning them.

The power of patronage is nothing new but a hangover of the client-ruler system that dominated the Philippines since the Spanish era. Then the rich families pacified the submissive poor and hungry with handouts of small favors. The poor were so miserable they took what they could get and were docile clients of the ruling families. The Spanish saw that their ruling class owned the land and property and the poor worked it for them. Eventually the poor rebelled and overthrew the Spanish elite but the properties are still controlled by the remaining wealthy elite passed down through the generations.

They ruled and reaped the riches and still do through their successors. They dominate the Philippine congress where most members are millionaires and they are there to promote and protect the business and political interests of their dynastic backers. The poor and lower middle class of workers are excluded from the political process and many sell their vote. Surveys show that the average approval rating of Philippine democracy is between 60 to 80 percent among Filipinos. In September 2017 it was a 86 % approval rating of those polled and this has dropped six points.

Although the system of government is based on the US model of elected representatives in two houses and a strong presidency, it is usually the president who gets the congress to support him by offering financial incentives to the congressional representatives and senators. It’s reality that payouts win support.

This is the pork barrel system of dolling out huge sums to the politicians to buy their support and most swing from opposition to back the president whoever he or she may be. While the Supreme Court ruled that pork barrel payouts are illegal it is still done one way or the other. But the President can also hurt the business interests of those in congress who oppose him.

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Philippine Supreme Court declares military rule legal

Activists march outside the House of Representatives in Manila to protest the extension for another year of martial law in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Rights groups warn extension of martial law in Mindanao will curtail people’s rights Philippine Supreme Court declares military rule legal

Joe Torres and Mark Saludes, Manila

Philippines February 7, 2018

Manila’s move to extend martial law for another year in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao is legal, according to the country’s Supreme Court.

The court ruled on Feb. 6 there were sufficient grounds for the extension of military rule in the region following a terrorist attack in the city of Marawi last year.”Public safety requires the extension [of the martial law] as shown by facts presented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” read the Supreme Court ruling.

Human rights groups warned the ruling “will create a favorable condition for the military to continue its rampage on people’s rights with impunity.”

Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan, said her office has already documented cases where soldiers have used martial law to intimidate people.

Lawmakers last month approved a request by President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law across Mindanao to “totally eradicate” terrorist groups in the region.

The president placed the whole region under martial law following an attack by Islamic State-inspired gunmen on Marawi, resulting in the displacement of about 400,000 people.

Congress first extended military rule up to the end of last year, and extended it again for a year up to Dec. 31, 2018.

Opposition legislators put the legality of the move before the Supreme Court, saying it was against the constitution because there was no actual rebellion or invasion in Mindanao.

Government critics warned that the court ruling would justify “perpetual martial law” in the region.

Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, said military rule will not bring peace to the island and will only “escalate the spiral of violence.”

“It will justify crackdowns on any group identified as threat to national security,” said the priest.

Father Raymond Montero Ambray of Tandag Diocese in Mindanao said martial law “had already wreaked havoc on tribal and farming communities.”

He said extending military rule will give the military “more licenses to terrorize” communities that oppose mining and logging operations.

The military welcomed the Supreme Court ruling, saying that it will “boost the morale” of soldiers and allow troops “to better safeguard public safety in Mindanao.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is the administrator of martial law, said the government can now fully pursue “with great vigor its efforts to end continuing rebellion” in the region.

He said the ruling would also give aid agencies the “necessary space to undertake the rehabilitation of Marawi unhampered.”

Military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said it was a “vote of confidence” in the soldiers.

“We would like to assure our people further that your [armed forces] will faithfully perform its duty to protect the people,” said the military official.

Help sought for Filipino children given dengue vaccine

Medical expenses an added burden to families of children given Dengvaxia drug Joe Torres, Manila, Philippines | February 7, 2018 Filipino women activists have demanded immediate financial and medical assistance for families of children injected with a controversial dengue vaccine. Last year, Sanofi Pasteur, manufacturer of Dengvaxia, announced that its…

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