By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY --- Clad in red t-shirt, Joedel Llorca, 13, Grade 7, of Barangay Sogod, Bacacay, Albay, is among those who joined the protest march on Labor Day last Tuesday, May 1, here.
A fisherman’s son, he was actually with 30 other fishermen from his town to protest against the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law which, according to them, completely put poor families in dire situation.
Joedel’s father is a member of Samahan ng Mangingisda-Sogod chapter. “This is the first time I joined the protest march on Labor Day to sympathize with the fishermen’s clamor,” he said.
Joedel is the second son among five siblings whose survival depends on fishing.
Come rain or shine, the 13-year old boy joined the thousands of other May 1 rallyists in Albay.
They took the streets from Daraga, Albay to Pinaglabanan monument in Legazpi City.
While Joedel sympathized with fishermen’s poor condition, more Bicolano workers also denounced President Rodrigo Duterte for the latter’s failure to stop ENDO and for allowing China to reclaim the West Philippine Sea.
End of contract or endo refers to the scheme that corrupt companies exercise to abuse their workers. Here in our country, the law requires companies to regularize their workers after 6 months. Unfortunately, some corporations terminate their workers a month or two before their sixth month of employment. Why? Because this means that they do not have to regularize those workers. Instead, they just hire, then terminate their contracts within this five-month period, and continually repeat this process to create a vicious cycle of ‘end of contract’ or ‘endo.
This is the first time, after several years, that big number of protesters from elderly, women and children walked the streets again amidst heavy rains denouncing Duterte and calling for his fall from power.
Arvin Reola, 23, head of May 1 committee and executive director of San Isidro Labrador, called on the Bicolanos to unite to topple down the Duterte administration.
Reola said Duterte failed to deliver his campaign promises and instead fueled human rights violations with extra judicial killings in his drug war, and his dictatorial ways of governance.
Reola also contested the passage of TRAIN law that has triggered the ballooning prices of goods and commodities and the lowering at the same time of the peso’s purchasing power.
Dan Balucio, 58, head of popular struggle committee of Bayan Bicol also denounced Duterte’s subservience to China, especially on the issue of our contested territories on the West Philippine Sea which now have been usurped by China.
“Duterte should defend the sovereignty of the country and should assert our victory in the arbitration case against China over the constested islands.
About 3,000 protesters in Albay stormed the street despite the pouring heavy rains on that day, May 1. Smilar protests were also held in the provinces of Sorsogon, Masbate, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, and Catanduanes.
In Pamplona, Camarines Sur, six jeepneys with rallyists on board were held by the town’s police at checkpoint but nonetheless were able to join the protest march, according to Bayan Bicol.
Two other jeepneys with rallysts for Labor Day were also held at bay in Calabanga, Camarines Sur, reports said.
Across Bicol, Balucio said that 15,000 to 20,000 protesters took the streets to denounce President Rodrigo Duterte’s dictatorial leadership.