Workers’ Response to SONA: Nationwide Protest Actions!

As Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo spins her latest yarn about the state of the nation, thousands of workers belonging to the APL today will pour out into the streets of the NCR, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato and General Santos to link arms with other social movements and demand an end to the jobs crisis and skyrocketing oil and food products.

Confronted with a plummeting -38% net satisfaction rating, 11.4% inflation rate, 16.3% hunger incidence, PGMA is reportedly set to unveil a social protection package patterned after various interim programs such as Katas ng VAT, Pantawid Kuryente and the other cash transfer programs.

“The current crises requires a whole set of policy reforms, and not dole-outs aimed at propping up a moribund government’s sagging popularity,” Edwin Bustillos, APL spokesperson, said. “Clearly, PGMA set her sight on mitigating her own crisis – the lack of legitimacy – rather than the larger crisis that leaves the working class in dire straights,” Bustillos added.

“No amount of fantastic claims about her government’s performance could hide the reality of the Arroyo regime’s glaring failure: its inability to generate 1.5 million jobs a year, as it promised, which then led to a yawning gap in income inequality,” Bustillos said.

The recent UNDP Human Development Report shows that while the economy was growing, Philippine per capita income growth was the ‘worst in Southeast Asia’. According to the report, per capital income grew at an average of only 1.9% between 1990-2005, in contrast with Vietnam (5.9%), Thailand (2.7%), Laos (3.8%) and Cambodia (5.5%). Even Burma fared better at 6.6%!

Moreover, glaring disparities in income distribution continue to deepen as incomes of the richest grew 16 times more than the incomes of the poorest, with the poorest families getting a meager 2.16% of the total annual family income growth, while the richest families got 34.26%.

“Arroyo would want us to believe that the current crisis should be blamed on everyone and everything else but itself. But the truth is, we are in this current rut because of government’s flawed policies,” Bustillos said.

APL demands that jobs generation be the centerpiece of government policies. This means that all policies, including monetary, fiscal trade as well as industrial and agricultural policies should be cohesively geared towards full employment.

In the short term, the APL is calling for a living wage, the scrapping of the oil deregulation law, price control on food, removal of EVAT for oil and food products, moratorium on demolitions and budget for socialized housing.

APL has no illusion that Arroyo regime to listen to the working class. “That is why, ousting this corrupt government would be a good start in strategically addressing our current problems.” Bustillos said. “After all, Arroyo herself is one of the problems!” he added.

In the NCR, APL will march along Commonwealth Avenue with other labor organizations and social movements under Mamamayan Laban sa Pagtaas ng Presyo ng Langis at Pagkain at Toyota Commonwealth.

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