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Where is the promise of change?

ONE year after President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (Sona), the Churchpeople Workers Solidarity (CWS) express disappointment over President Duterte’s inability to fulfil his promise to stop the unfair practice of labor contractualization in the country. CWS laments the worsening condition of the workers under the Duterte administration’s continued implementation of anti-worker neoliberal economic policies. We deplore the worsening inequality, deteriorating jobs, widening wage gap and prevalent poverty among the working class.

CWS is concerned with Duterte’s perpetuation of the same failed neoliberal policies of the past administrations. Duterte and his economic managers continue to push big business-biased and free market-oriented policies over people-centered reforms. This “new tyranny” as Pope Francis pointed out promotes an “economy of exclusion and inequality” which is the best way to increase foreign corporate and oligarch profits but will never deliver substantial socio-economic development for the poor majority.

By treading the path of pro-capitalist neoliberal agenda, Duterte has miserably failed to deliver his promise of ending contractualization. The much hyped Dole Order No. 174 does not end but further legitimizes the proliferation of contractual employment schemes. A labor group reported that 24.4 million Filipinos or about 64 percent of the labor force are still being hired under various contractual employment schemes. CWS reiterates its stand that contractualization, whether employed in legal or illegal schemes will subject workers to worst forms of exploitation and tramples on the dignity of each person.

We encourage President Duterte to devote his remaining five years in implementing pro-Filipino industrialization. This can be materialized by signing Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms (Caser), the second substantive agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace talks.

We call on President Duterte to listen to the clamour of the Filipino people to lift the martial law in Mindanao. Martial law has only resulted in senseless killings, destruction of property and massive displacement of our Moro brothers and sisters. It has likewise trampled upon the civil, political and economic rights of the people. Duterte’s martial law not only victimizes innocent Muslims but also Lumad communities who continue to be displaced from their lands because of continued aerial bombings and indiscriminate firings by the military. There were also reports that combined elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and PNP in Compostela Valley harassed and violently dispersed striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corp. in Compostela Valley. Such actions from the AFP and PNP is a blatant attack on the right of workers to form unions and to join strikes.

Lastly, we urge President Duterte to follow the path of peace by resuming the GRP-NDFP peace process. Echoing the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI we say: “Peace is the only true direction of human progress, not conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil disorder.” – Fr. Rudy Abao, MSC, Churchpeople Workers; E-mail:


A Year of Broken Promises

KADAMAY says President Duterte’s sharp turn towards militarism and neo-liberal economics in the last year will result in increasingly unsavory living conditions for poor Filipinos.

In only just a year, the President has managed to become obedient to the interests of the militarists, corporations, oligarchs and foreign superpowers, all those he sought to stand firm in the face of. The extension of martial law, and inklings of expanding it is the clearest manifestation of this.

Kadamay says that there are several major broken promises that have disappointed and discontented urban poor Filipinos in particular. These are not simply unfulfilled promises, but policy pronouncements that should have been in favor of poor Filipinos but suddenly went the opposite way.

At the start of his term, Duterte promised no demolition without proper relocation. Many of these are evictions being carried out in favor of big public-partnership programs, a familiar scenario from Noynoy Aquino’s term.

Kadamay says the state of resettlement sites are from being “proper”. Which is why only a handful of people are willing to make due. This was also indicated in the recent COA report on housing citing more than 60 percent (114,000) of public housing is unoccupied.

Last Sona, Duterte also promised that relocation sites and poor communities would be afforded direct connections to electricity and water. As it stands more than 50 percent of relocation sites do not have potable water. If relocation sites do have utilities they are often more expensive due to private developers being given a say.

Add to this the fact that contractualization has further been legitimized and the President has only dodged questions on his promise. We see a trend here. Martial law, policies that favor big business while harming the communities and livelihood of the poor. Duterte is walking on the wrong side of history with these mistakes. – Gloria Arellano, chairperson, Kadamay


A Year of Deceit

DESPITE the intensified atrocities committed by the AFP in Mindanao, Duterte and his lap dogs in Congress opted to extend martial law until December 2017. These fascists have shown no sympathy for the victims of militarization in Mindanao — nine Lumad communities forcibly displaced from Surigao del Sur, hundreds of thousands of evacuees with little to no immediate relief and rehabilitation in Marawi, victims of military harassment, warrantless arrests, airstrikes, and food blockade. As if these violations weren’t enough, Duterte and his military troops have continued to red-tag these civilians as rebels and part of the New People’s Army.

It is with no doubt that this regime has been wired ever since with the US government and its military troops as they have waged multiple wars against the Filipino people. The extension of martial law in Mindanao is yet another proof not just of the AFP’s incompetence but also the Duterte administration’s tactical move to become a military dictatorship.

During the start of his term, President Duterte had claimed to be progressive and an ally of the left when he promised to resume the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) along with the release of all NDFP consultants and a handful of political prisoners. Now the tables have turned as he hijacks his words and insists on having a bilateral ceasefire before the negotiating panel discusses the proposed socio-economic reforms. The political prisoners have turned into hostages, a condition further aggravated by the detention of eight youth leaders who staged a lightning rally in the joint session of the Congress for the extension of martial law on July 21. These youth leaders, now known as #Kabataan8, are composed of three Lumad volunteer teachers and students from other universities; they are held temporarily at Camp Caringal.

Duterte’s war on drugs, all-out war in the countryside, and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao are all manifestations of his desperate answer to the root causes of poverty and armed conflict in the country. Despite his earlier anti-US projections, he has no significant steps to cast away the US troops in our lands. In fact, he seems to have become more hospitable to foreign forces, almost embracing them and inviting them to further exploit and abuse our country and our people.

LFS also denounces Duterte’s fraudulent independent foreign policy. Given the existence of the US military troops in the country and all lopsided agreements with US, records of military harassment and violence have intensified even before the Mindanao-wide martial law has been declared.

The promise of a decent and stable job for our workers has remained a castle in the air under Duterte’s administration as there are no concrete steps to end all forms of contractualization. With this, we are not surprised of the fact that he entrusted the Filipino youth’s future with the neoliberal pawns in his cabinet, transforming the education system to become a breeding ground of passive workers, a pool of cheap labor addressed to the needs of the global market as dictated by the imperialists and not in any way geared to contribute in building a selfeliant economy.

Until now, the right to education is met with a huge price to pay. His Free Tuition Policy implementation in state universities and colleges has been a safe pass to enact a nationwide socialized tuition system, making education all the more inaccessible to the majority of the Filipino youth.

A year after he took office is more than enough time for the President to fail his people. There are no notable expectations from the wide ranks of masses but a reinforced fascism and continuous imperialist plunder.

It is time that Duterte see how he has failed the people, and how we would claim our rights. – JP Rosos, spokesperson, League of Filipino Students


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