MANILA --- Progressive groups Partido Lakas ng Masa Partylist, Sanlakas as well as labor unions belonging to Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) issued a challenge to all senatorial aspirants in next year’s midterm elections to heed the mounting clamor of the marginalized sectors for immediate reforms or reap a protest vote.
In a press conference held Tuesday, the groups complained that with barely a month before the holidays and the year coming to an end, they still have to experience the promised benefits of the Duterte administration’s policies and programs.
We were promised the end to contractualization and the end of regional wages Up to now we see no end to the abusive trlateral work arrangements that have denied the living wages and secure jobs to millions of Filipinos,” said Leody de Guzman of BMP.
De Guzman, a longtime labor leader and senatorial aspirant explained that “workers are fed up with runaway inflation due to overtaxation and government failure to control prices”. He pointed out to a restive labor front in past months ever since the implementation of TRAIN 1 and the spiraling inflation rates since the second quarter of 2018. The rise in prices of basic necessities led to the increase of actual strikes, strike notices, and other forms of concerted action this year, as the Duterte regime failed to implement its own orders against labor-only contracting.
The groups claimed the immediate cause of worsening poverty is no other than the economic policies of the Duterte administration itself. “The “change is coming” electoral promise of 2016 has lost its luster. Slowly but surely, the people are starting to see the true character of the present regime. It is no different from the previous administrations that were indifferent to the plight of the impoverished and toiling majority, ” they declared.
For Benjo Basas first nominee of Partido Lakas ng Masa Partylist and leader of Teachers Dignity Coalition, the government has yet to decisively address runaway prices of basic commodities.
“The already eroded real value of wages may fall further as prices rise during the holiday season, especially in a period of volatility in global oil prices,” he asserted.
The groups demand that the government issue a price control of basic neccesities through the removal of excise tax on oil and scrapping of the value added tax on petroleum products in order to effectively pull down retail prices of all commodities.
They described the latest move of the administration to suspend the collection of the second tranche of excise tax on oil a “dilly-dallying dud” for not decisively removing the tax measure that will surely harm the poor.
Meanwhile BMP president Luke Espiritu said that workers are looking forward to the upcoming national elections. “We view the elections as an political platform to raise issues that need to be addressed. Once organized and enlightened, the elections would be a payback time against politicians who backed anti-worker anti-poor policies that led to the worsening condition of the people,
“The marginalized sectors are in need of senators that will champion their grievances. We will welcome candidates who will remove the yoke on the shoulders of the underpaid and overtaxed masses. Those who heed the peoples’ call shall be rewarded and those who prefer to disregard our pleas will regret it when election day comes,” he warned.
Also at the press conference, the BMP and PLM announced that they will march on Bonifacio Day towards Mendiola Bridge with all other labor groups to demand immediate economic reforms.
The mobilization shall also serve as the public launching of PLM in the partylist elections and the candidacy of Ka Leody de Guzman who joins the senatorial race under PLM, which as a political party granted him a Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) last October.