Duterte has continuously declined investigations from international bodies regarding violations of human rights, including his “war on drugs” campaign that has led to the death of more than 30,000 innocent lives.
On the 26th of July, President Duterte will be delivering his last State of the Nation Address, which we expect to be charged with lies of change and progress as he has done in his past addresses. On the same day, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) together with other democratic groups will be calling for a Global Day of Action to hold Duterte accountable for his crimes against the Filipino workers and people.
Failed pandemic response
More than a year into the world’s longest lockdown, Covid-19 cases continue to rise and have already surpassed the 1.5 million mark in the Philippines. Hospitals are overwhelmed and overrun due to a lack of facilities, equipment, and staff. The positivity rate in the country is still at 10.7%, but the government’s capacity for testing reaches only 50,000 tests per day compared to its target of 101,000 tests per day in order to lower the positivity rate to 5%.
Despite these, no comprehensive and pro-people stimulus package was extended by the government to give support to workers and people. No immediate, sufficient and sustained cash relief program was implemented to support displaced workers. Less than one million workers received Php 1000 cash relief.
Unprecedented economic crisis
The pandemic revealed and worsened the already plummeting economy. In the year 2020, the Philippine economy dropped to -9.5%, marked by job losses and meager wages.
As prices continue to rise due to the inflation rate reaching 4.7% by the end of February 2021, meager wages can barely suffice for basic needs. In his 5 years of presidency Duterte only ordered for a wage increase twice in the National Capital Region, equivalent to only Php56 (1.12 USD). Currently, the minimum wage in NCR is Php 537 (10.69 USD) per day, and lower in provinces due to wage regionalization. This is far off from the estimated family living wage of Php 1,022 per day. This has been worsened by the increasing inflation rate which eroded the real value of wages by Php 100.
This is coupled with a jobs crisis in the country. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, more than 3.7 million workers were unemployed in May 2021. More than 500,000 overseas Filipino workers affected by the pandemic were repatriated. Up to 16.7 million are working part-time and in need of additional jobs, while 1.3 million full-time work was lost.
In addition to this, Duterte’s campaign promise to end the short-term contractual scheme (contractualization) has not been realized. According to the independent think tank IBON Foundation, around 9 million workers (33%) in the private sector are contractual. Contractual workers are the most vulnerable due to lack of job security and access to benefits and rights enjoyed by regular workers, such as the right to unionize.
Attacks on the worker's movement
Amid this crisis, Duterte has led a national campaign against the rights of the people. During the pandemic, the government fast-tracked the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020.
56 workers were killed under the Duterte regime, including union leaders Dandy Miguel, Manny Asuncion, and Carlito Badion. Meanwhile, 30 labor leaders and unionists remain in jail because of false charges. Forms of harassment, intimidation, red-tagging are being utilized against union members and organizers.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has launched a systematic campaign to force unions to disaffiliate from KMU by visiting union leaders in their homes and workplaces.
Yet Duterte has continuously declined investigations from international bodies regarding violations of human rights, including his “war on drugs” campaign that has led to the death of more than 30,000 innocent lives.
No to term extension
With all his crimes on hand, Duterte has recently declared his intention to run for the vice presidency in the upcoming national elections, admitting that the reason behind this is to avoid any forms of accountability for his crimes.
Call to Action
It is of this backdrop that we enjoin you to the Global Day of Solidarity with the Filipino Workers on July 26. Below are some of the actions you may do to support the call for decent wages, secure jobs, and trade union and human rights:
1. Hold a physical protest action in your country and post documentation on your social media pages. We are also requesting that you send photos of your protests to this email.
2. For online activities, you may post solidarity statements, photos with calls, and other related materials and send them to this email as well.
3. Letters and messages of solidarity to the PH workers will be very much appreciated.
4. Donate to the legal and campaign funds for wages, job security, and trade union rights.
The following calls may be used for solidarity materials and protest actions:
End contractualization in the Philippines!
Defend trade unions in the Philippines!
Stop the attacks!
Stop killing workers!
Stand with Filipino workers!