demise of labor rights and Cha-cha with GMA as Speaker
July 25, 2018
QUEZON CITY – The
socialist labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
expressed trepidation as former president Gloria Arroyo wrested
control over the leadership of the House of Representatives.
Workers fear that all
pending pro-labor bills will not move an inch with Arroyo as
speaker. They also foresee the wholesale assault on the remaining
protectionist provisions of the constitution as they view her as
President Duterte’s co-navigator of the Cha-Cha ship.
“Arroyo’s past attempts to
change the charter are still fresh in the memory of many. As she
admitted herself, she would push for the legislative agenda of the
president – to steer Congress into convening as a constituent
assembly. With Arroyo at the helm, our rights are in constant
peril,” said Luke Espiritu, president of BMP.
“A Duterte-Arroyo combo is
the sum of all the fears of organized labor,” he added.
BMP noted that Arroyo’s
track record for being anti-labor is long and plentiful. It was
during her term, the DOLE failed to issue a department order to
interpret and implement Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code on
contracting and subcontracting arrangements.
It was also during her
watch when the army and the police open fired at striking workers of
Hacienda Luisita in 2004, prompting the BMP to siege the DOLE
offices in Intramuros.
Duterte’s hand in power
The group also claimed
that the president played Pontius Pilate in the power grab in the
House of Representatives, causing a delay in his annual address, as
he reportedly berated her daughter Inday Sara for orchestrating the
ouster of Pantaleon Alvarez.
“Even if Duterte allowed
Alvarez to sit beside him at his third SONA, the sullen face of the
former speaker throughout his speech reveals that the proverbial axe
had fallen even before the joint session was convened,” Espiritu
“Duterte did not lift a
finger to save Alvarez because, with the assumption of Gloria Arroyo
–much-hated by the people but trusted by the elite for her
reputation to take charge – he gained a reliable first mate that
could steer the ship to towards Charter Change”, the labor lawyer
He noted that during her
nine year term as president, Arroyo attempted to change the charter.
In her 2005 SONA, she declared to “start the great debate on Charter
Change” although her plans were waylaid by the infamous ‘Hello Garci’
scandal and again 2008.
During her term, Arroyo
and legislative allies utilized various legal means to change the
Constitution – People’s Initiative in 2006, Constituent Assembly in
2008 and a Constitutional Convention in 2009.
“As a rabid bourgeois
economist, who toes the line of the neoliberal capitalist doctrine
of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and labor
flexibility, Arroyo as House Speaker will not hesitate to demolish
all protectionist measures of the national economy to favor the
Chinese and American monopolies in order to attract foreign
investments,” he added.
An Arroyo-led Batasan will
not end endo
The group likewise sees no
end to the scourge of contractualization despite Duterte’s
reiteration in his SONA speech to enact a law to prohibit
“We expect nothing but
further circumvention of our rights through the institutionalization
of trilateral contracting work arrangements. More misery awaits
working class families,” he said.
“Duterte’s call on
Congress to enact a law on contractualization is just as bogus as
his Executive Order 51. He merely copy-pasted what was already the
law, preserving the status quo of poverty inducing contractual
employment,” he concluded.