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Lunes, Marso 23, 2020

Emergency powers for COVID19: The same politics of plunder and patronage but dressed in surgical masks and protective equipment

March 23, 2020

Emergency powers for COVID19: 
The same politics of plunder and patronage but dressed in surgical masks and protective equipment

Today, March 23, we are expecting Congress to hold a special session and grant emergency powers to Duterte as requested by MalacaƱang. 

The supermajority in both Houses will ensure that the president will have his way, not out of deep concern for a people who face uncertainty due to the COVID19 pandemic but from a deeply-ingrained SOP (standard operating procedure) of opportunism and political patronage.

The crux of the request is for the Executive to juggle funds and cancel appropriations made by Congress in the FY 2020 budget, in an attempt to immediately channel finance into decisive steps to address COVID19, which includes the take-over of health services and facilities. 

We would leave the determination of this usurpation of the legislative power of the purse to the lawmakers, or to the Supreme Court, if the request, once accorded, is taken to the judiciary for interpretation for violations to the Constitution.

For the toilers and the propertyless, the question is “ Would the granting of emergency powers, as requested, lead to expedient and effective measures to address the health crisis”? Not really.

The president does not need more power to address this issue. Much power and privilege is already concentrated in his hands as chief executive. 

Even without changing the budgetary appropriations, Duterte could easily initiate the massive mobilization of logistics, finances and personnel to diligently follow the procedures by global health experts on how to combat the COVID19 scourge. He had the power to impose a travel ban from Wuhan/Hubei from as early as January. He had the discretion to declare a health emergency as suggested by the Health Department in latter February. 

He could have done all this but he did not; downplaying the virus as a little fire to be put out by his urinary excretions.

Then, in early March, he hurriedly imposed a quarantine/lockdown for NCR then and Luzon, without preparing the prerequisites for the successful implementation of his drastic presidential order (transportation and protective equipment for frontliners, income replacement and subsidies for temporarily displaced workers from the formal and informal sectors, steady flow of basic needs, etc).

Too much power yet too lacking not just in political will and decisiveness but more so in genuine concern to the safety and welfare of the Filipino people.

The regime may counter that this request for “emergency powers” represents a sudden turnaround from its past blunders (though they are too egotistical and arrogant to admit to mistakes).

However, the Marawi case is a starker revelation to the devastating effects of granting “emergency powers” to Duterte. The so-called restoration of the war-torn city did not materialize. The billions of rechanneled funds and foreign aid now untraceable. Emergency powers ultimately lead to brazen and unashamed plunder since the normal procedures of transparency, audit, and accountability are deemed inapplicable in ‘emergency situations’.

The legislators, mostly in the House supermajority, would not oppose the reallocation of the budget for the COVID crisis, through the emergency powers of the chief executive. They know too well that it would be coursed to local government units “through the intercession of their good offices to their almighty Tatay”. 

This is the same politics of plunder and patronage. Though this time with Duterte in front, handing out relief goods, wearing a surgical mask to hide his blush of shame for past misdeeds and blunders.

Yet, for the sake of the people, we propose the following adjustments to two major measures in the fight against COVID19: (a) social distancing and proper hygiene: not by draconian measures that regard the masses as the problem but by encouraging mass participation and initiative to dispel the view that Filipinos are inherently undisciplined, (b) mass testing in critical areas and eventual isolation, recovery and treatment of patients (which necessitates a rejection of VIP testing for its wasteful use of scarce and much-needed test kits, testing should prioritize frontline workers due to their proximity to the deadly virus) and (c) requisition of private facilities such as hotels and hospitals to serve as quarantine or isolation centers for those who have tested positive for the COVID-19 where proper medication and care can be afforded to them.

However, we call on our kauri and kamanggagawa to stretch ourselves, go beyond narrow struggles for economic gain, and tackle the questions of politics and governance to the millions of Filipino workers, as they face the ineptitude of the ruling clique (which will literally kill us all), the weak rival elitist faction, the looming economic slowdown locally and globally, and a pandemic that highlights all the contradictions of the prevailing capitalist global order. #

Huwebes, Marso 19, 2020

Ang Hasik ng Katipunan, ang Buklod ng BMP, at ang KASAMA ng KPML

Maikling sanaysay ni Gregorio V. Bituin Jr.

May ninuno pala ang BUKLOD ng Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) at ang dating KASAMA ng grupong Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML). Ito ang HASIK ng KKK o Katipunan nina Gat Andres Bonifacio.

Sa aklat na "Kartilyang Makabayan: Mga Tanong at Sagot Ukol Kay Andres Bonifacio at sa KKK" na sinulat ni Hermenegildo Cruz, ay nabanggit ang pagbubuo ng Hasik na maihahalintulad sa pagbubuo ng Buklod ng BMP, at dating KASAMA (Kapatiran ng mga Sosyalistang Aktibistang Maralita), ng KPML na binago na't ginawa na ring Buklod na ibinatay sa BMP. Sa pahina 21 ng nasabing aklat ay nasusulat: 

25. - Sa papaanong paraan ginagawa ang pagkuha ng kasapi? - Sa bawa't pook ay nagtatayo ng isang wari'y lupon na kung tawagin ay "Hasik" na binubuo ng tatlo katao na paranhg tatlong tungko. Ang "Hasik" na ito ang siyang sa inot-inot ay nanghihikayat upang may sumapi sa "Katipunan". Pagdamidami na ng mga kasangayon ay saka pa lamang itinatayo ang "Balangay" na pinamumunuan ng isang lupon na ang mga tungkulin ay tulad din ng sa Kataastaasang Lupon. Ang mga "Hasik" na yaon ay di na ipinagpatuloy ng malapit na ang tangkang panahon sa paghihimagsik, pagka't ang mga taong baya'y halos naguunahan nang sila'y mapabilang sa "Katipunan".

Ang pagbubuo ng Buklod ng BMP ay naisulat ng namayapang Ka Popoy Lagman sa akda niyang PAGKAKAISA na nalathala sa magasing Tambuli ng BMP noong Disyembre 1998. Halina't sipiin natin ang ilang bahagi nito:

"Dapat ay mas madali ang magbuo ng grupo o sirkulong pampulitika ng lima hanggang sampu katao sa bawat kompanya (tawagin natin na mga buklod) kaysa magbuo ng unyon na kinakailangang dumaan sa mga ligal at teknikal na proseso. Upang mapatampok ang pampulitikang tungkulin at katangian ng BMP, mas wasto at mas mahusay na ang magiging ispesyalisasyon nito ay ang pagbubuo ng network ng mga grupo o sirkulong pampulitika sa pinakamaraming kompanyang maaabot nito na mas nakatuon sa pampulitikang pagkamulat, pagkakaisa, pagkakaorganisa at pakikibaka ng masang manggagawa bilang uri."

"Oryentasyon ng mga buklod na ito ang aktibong paglahok sa pang-unyong pakikibaka nang hindi binabago ang prinsipal na diin sa pampulitikang pag-oorganisa. Bawat lider, organisador at aktibista ng BMP ay dapat magkaroon ng mga target na kompanyang tatayuan nila ng mga buklod. Dapat ay walang tigil ang araw-araw na pagbubuo ng mga buklod na ito hanggang sa malatagan natin ang mayorya ng mga kompanya sa buong bansa ng ganitong network ng sosyalistang pagkakaisang makauri bilang preparasyon sa paglubha ng krisis ng globalisasyon at pag-igpaw ng kilusan ng uring manggagawa sa antas ng pampulitikang pakikibaka."

Sa bahagi naman ng KPML, binuo noon ang KASAMA upang maipalaganap ang makauring pagkakaisa ng mga maralita bilang proletaryado at ng uring manggagawa sa kabuuan. Katatampukan ang KASAMA ng pag-oorganisa at pampulitikang pagmumulat. Ayon sa Oryentasyon ng KASAMA: "Ang KASAMA ay isang pampulitikang grupo o sirkulo (mga 5-10 katao) ng mga mulat na maralita sa loob ng isang lokal na organisasyon at komunidad na kinikilusan ng KPML, o kaya'y mga indibidwal na maralitang wala pang organisasyon sa isang komunidad."

"Binuo ang KASAMA bilang katuwang ng KPML sa pagkokonsolidad sa ating mga kinikilusang komunidad. Pagkat sila ang mga mulat (may mataas na pampulitikang kamalayan) na maralita sa loob ng kanilang mga lokal na organisasyon, pangungunahan nila ang kanilang samahan sa mga pagkilos sa loob at labas ng kanilang mga komunidad, at magsasagawa ng pagmumulat sa hanay ng kasapian at maging sa iba pang organisasyon at mga kalapit pang komunidad. Ang mga KASAMA ang siyang magiging gulugod sa pag-oorganisa at pagkokonsolida ng ating organisasyon at mga komunidad na kinikilusan."

Sa ngayon, napagpasyahan na ng KPML na mas mainam na gamitin ang Buklod, at nawala na ang pag-oorganisa ng Kasama bilang pagtalima sa atas ng BMP, kung saan kasaping organisasyon ang KPML, na magtayo ng Buklod sa mga komunidad ng maralita upang palakasin ang sosyalistang kilusan.

Maraming salamat sa Katipunan, at may pinagmanahan pala ang BMP at KPML bilang mga mapagpalayang organisasyon tungo sa pagtatayo ng lipunang walang pang-aapi at pagsasamantala ng tao sa tao.

Mga pinaghalawan:
aklat na "Kartilyang Makabayan: Mga Tanong at Sagot Uklo Kay Andres Bonifacio at sa KKK" na sinulat ni Hermenegildo Cruz, (inilimbag, 1922), pahina 22

* Unang nalathala sa pahayagang Taliba ng Maralita, ang opisyal na publikasyon ng Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML), isyu ng Marso 16-31, 2020, pahina 18-19.

Sabado, Marso 14, 2020

Workers slam DTI and DOLE measures on Metro lockdown

Press Release
14 March 2020

Workers slam DTI and DOLE measures on Metro lockdown

Militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) criticized the prescriptions provided by both the Trade and Labor departments for workers during the month-long period Metro Manila will remain on lockdown which the group claimed were inconsiderate, grossly anti-poor and arithmetically improbable.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez stipulated in a press conference Friday that the more than three million workers living outside Metro Manila but working in the metropolis must find a place to rent and for the informal workers to sell their wares outside the Metro Manila during the duration of the lockdown which starts on March 15.

While Labor Secretary Silvestre Belllo issued Labor Advisory #9 which encouraged employers to implement flexible work arrangements. This includes the reduction of workhours and workdays, rotation of workforce and forced leaves.

“Like everybody else, workers and their families want to contribute to address the spread of COVID-19 but to take away our measly incomes for an entire month or ask us to make good with so little is already lethal if not fatal to our well-being,” said Dominic Dilao, vice president of the group.

He adds that ordinary folks, even employees with regular work status are already living in the fringes of poverty and will only sink further with the reduction of their regular incomes because most fall under the “no work, no pay policy”.

Besides being detrimental, Dilao continued that the advisories were not only carefully studied but also lacking of any form of consultation with the sectors affected.

BMP says that “social distancing” is not applicable and realizable with the present state of the metro’s transportation and urban planning. This they say is a consequence of the state’s reliance on the private sector.

They also argued that factories and workplaces are natural congregations, worse most of the factories in the metro maybe considered sweatshops – cramped and with poor working conditions to maximize profits.

The group claimed that there are even factories with no running water, poor sanitation and violate health and safety regulations. They want employers to provide free testing kits.

“We have toiled so much and are solely responsible for the profits and success of companies, its about time we are paid back as part of our fair share of the pie during these trying times,” he said.

Workers demanded that the both departments should ensure that their would be no diminution of wages and benefits of workers during the duration of the lackdown and that companies must not take it against the workers if they get tied up in traffic in checkpoints and testing centers to be set up at the entry points of the metropolis once the lockdown is enforced.

“The Duterte administration is making ordinary folk fully bear the adverse consequences of their delayed response to the outbreak and have taken nothing away from the employers in an effort to ensure that profit margins of companies remain high despite the COVID-19 outbreak,” Dilao declared.

To cushion the impact of the month-long lockdown, BMP wants the government to defer the collection of payroll taxes such as SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth and Pag-ibig and ensure that employers continue paying their contributions. They also seek the suspension of indirect taxes such as the value added tax and excise duties on petroleum and petroleum products under the Train Law.###

Miyerkules, Marso 11, 2020

BMP to DOH: Hire more nurses now or prepare body bags

Press Release
11 March 2020

BMP to DOH: Hire more nurses now or prepare body bags
Labor group pushes cutting health job mismatch to combat COVID-19

Labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) called on the Department of Health (DoH) to hire more nurses now amid the expected exponential increase of cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), adding that we have nursing graduates who are stuck in non-healthcare jobs.

“We call on Secretary Duque to propose emergency Congressional funding for personnel. This has to happen as early as this month. Pretty soon, the number of cases will overwhelm our fragile public health system, if we don’t mobilize enough people to attend to the sick,” said BMP Chairperson Leody de Guzman.

The labor leader cited a prediction by Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch that 40% to 70% of all people around the world will have contracted COVID-19 by the end of the year.

“Let’s say that 50% of all Filipinos will have COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 3.4% global death rate. This translates to around 1.8 million Filipinos dead, if our death rate is as bad as the global average,” De Guzman warned.

He added that WHO estimates 14% experienced severe disease and 5% were critically ill, translating to 7.7 million hospitalized and 2.7 million needing intensive care.

“How does DOH plan to attend to all of these? Given that the 2018 Labor Force Survey (LFS) only reports around 90,000 health professionals and 130,000 health associate professionals, there will be only 1 personnel for every 400-500 COVID-19 patients alone. We might as well prepare body bags,” De Guzman warned.

Attend Mismatch Now

De Guzman cited the 4th Graduate Tracer Study (GTS) from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) stating that while 21.6% of students surveyed took up nursing, only 52.8% of the nursing students were eventually matched to appropriate jobs.

Of those unmatched, 11% eventually worked as contact center information clerks, 8% went to retail and wholesale trade, and 9.7% either went on as general office clerks or cashier and ticket clerks.

“This is unacceptable. We badly need nurses to run our healthcare units, but our nursing graduates don’t end up in nursing jobs. Such a waste of tertiary education resources during a time of healthcare crisis!,” he said.

“The solution to the unemployment problem is in front of our faces the whole time. There are so many roles to be filled, and yet too many are unemployed. The state must transform these roles into decent paying public sector jobs, especially in critical services like healthcare,” De Guzman said.

The labor leader also appealed to young nurses aiming "to leave the country for greener pastures" to temporarily postpone their departure, arguing that their services are much needed here.

"It is tough times, we know, but I think it is better off for all of our families in the long run if they will stay here for now, and join the fight against COVID-19," De Guzman said.

The BMP leader appealed to the health department to fully implement the Supreme Court decision to peg government nurses’ to Salary Grade 15, following Section 32 of Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nurses Act.

“The Supreme Court can only interpret the law. The executive must propose an appropriate budget for nurses’ wage increase and Congress should approve it. The problem is that they keep on passing the buck to local government units, which does not have enough funds to pay their nurses,” De Guzman argued.

He said that the best way to encourage nurses to stay is by "paying them decent wages, commensurate to the risk they face everyday”.-30-

Contact person: Ka Leody de Guzman 0920-5200672

May 1, 2013 rali

Das Kapital published on 14 Sept 1867

Das Kapital published on 14 Sept 1867

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Slam Evil, Slam Apec

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November 1996