Go not gently into the night, rage against the dying of the light!

Saturday, October 25, 2014


On the 426 approved joint military activities:
How many Jennifers and Nicoles More?                                                                                                       
The gruesome death of Jennifer Laude in the hands of alleged murderer Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton of the US Marine Corps coincided with the meeting of the US-RP Mutual Defence Board (MDB). The murder came right after the most recent Philippines-US amphibious landing exercise, Phiblex. Pfc. Pemberton is one of the 3,500 US marines who participated in the 12-day Phiblex 15.

It was already Phiblex 15 that just concluded and it is terrifying to learn that 426 more joint military activities of various categories are forthcoming. This is one of the resolutions in the recent MDB meeting. It is disgusting to know that the Philippine commander-in-chief, President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) allowed the country’s representatives in the MDB to approve hundreds more joint military activities despite a recent crime against a Filipino by another soldier of the US Marines. This is gravely insulting to the people, especially to those opposing rising US militarism and increasing presence of US personnel and materiel in the Philippines.

WE, in KAISA KA, (Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan) vehemently condemn the brutal murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude. Being a victim of a US Marines trooper raises Laude’s murder to a crime against the Filipino people. The suspected murderer, Pfc. Pemberton, should be detained in the country while being tried under Philippine laws.

 This recent crime highlights again and puts under question the 1999 US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which is under protracted review since 2012, and the recently signed US-RP Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which is not yet enforced pending Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality. The main subject of both agreements is, the presence or stay in the country of US military forces (personnel, arms and equipments) and the continuing joint military activities of the armed forces of the USA and the Philippines. 

Article 5 of the VFA particularly stipulates on the issue of jurisdiction over US military personnel who commit crime or legal liability not related with the pursuance of their duties while in the Philippines. The VFA grants the Philippines jurisdiction over the erring US military personnel. However, custody of the American soldier/s remains with the US government.  Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton is now supposedly detained by his superiors in the warship USS Peleliu that is left docked in the former US naval base in Subic. 

Furthermore, VFA stipulates that the resolution of the case must be done within one year otherwise the US is not anymore obliged to present the defendant in court.  In other words, the Philippine government would have to seek the US government’s decision to transfer custody of the erring US soldier to the Philippines.      

WE in KAISA Ka, like many others, fear that the handling of Pemberton’s case will fall in the same way of US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who was accused of raping Suzette “Nicole” Nicolas in 2005. Smith was convicted and was confined for a few days in the Makati City Jail.  He was taken away by US authorities and kept inside the US embassy until his case was settled after Nicole allegedly retracted.

The crime committed by Pemberton is heinous but its dimension is beyond itself. VFA and Philippine jurisdiction, i.e. sovereignty over a US soldier who committed crime in the country are the real issues.  The case of Lance Cpl. Smith confirmed Philippine jurisdiction and sovereignty is not guaranteed by the VFA.

The USA, the number one military and economic power in the world, is continuously wielding its might not only over the Philippines but over many countries in the world. The Philippines, by its government’s subservience, serve as a US neo-colonial instrument and one of its bases in US’ projection of power over Asia-Pacific and the world.  

The Philippines is designated by the US to play the role of hosting, on pivotal basis, increasing number of its military forces for the US rebalance strategy of deploying 60% of its naval forces in Asia-Pacific by 2020. This is the reason for EDCA and the seemingly permanent VFA. Under such situation many more crimes against Filipinos by US military personnel can be anticipated. But what is most disturbing is the Philippine government being an accomplice in the militarist-imperialist designs in the world and the Filipino people being dragged in the process.
 
Justice for Jennifer Laude! Justice for the Filipino people!
Stop US militarism!
Rescind EDCA! Abrogate VFA!     

PAGSUKO SA SOBERANYA: Pahamak sa Kababaihan at Buong Sambayanan


Nuong Oktubre 14, pinayagan ng administrasyong PNoy ang mga kinatawan nito sa Mutual Defence Board na aprubahan ang 426 US-Philippine “joint activities” sa pagitan ng dalawang pwersang-militar.

Ito ay sa kabila ng pagkakasangkot ng isang sundalong ng US Marines Corps. sa kalunoslunos na pagpaslang sa isang Pilipinong transgender nuong Oktubre 11 at ng matinding panawagan ng mga iba’t ibang samahan na ipailalim ang pinaghihinalaang salarin sa kustodya ng Pilipinas.

Nanawagan ang KAISA KA,isang samahan ng mga kababaihang nagsusulong ng panlipunang pagbabago sa pangulo na bumitaw na sa kasunduang pinirmahan ni Hen.Gregorio Catapang nitong Oktubre 14,2014 at tanggihan ang anumang pag-uusap hingil sa iplementasyon ng EDCA. Bukod pa sa dapat lamang igiit ng ating gubyerno ang kustodya sa suspek na si Private First Class (PFC) Joseph Scott Pemberton sa Pilipinas.

Ipinanawagan din ng KAISAKA na ikonsidera ng pamahalaan ang pagbabasura sa EDCA sa dahilang sinusuportahan ng kasunduang ito ang lumalawak na militarismo ng Estados Unidos.

Ang pagpaslang sa transgender na si Jennifer Laude sa pamamagitan ng pagsakal at paglunod sa inidoro ay dapat lang kondenahin ng lahat ng mamamayang humihiyaw ng katarungan. Si Jennifer ay isang biktima ng karahasang nakabatay sa kasarian at resulta ng tumitinding militarism ng US.
May limang US warship ang nakadaong sa Subic para makapaglibang. Isa si Pemberton sa mga lumalahok sa ginanap na US amphibious exercise kasama ang mga sundalong Pilipino.

Ipinakita ng paraan ng pagpaslang sa pamamagitan ng pagsubsob ng mukha sa iniduro kung paano itrinato si Jennifer na parang dumi. Kaso ito ng trans-bashing na maituturing na walang iba kundi ang karahasang sekswal, pisikal o panlalait sa mga transgender- na isang uri ng karahasang batay sa kasarian.

Maraming Nicole at Jennifer Basta’t May Tropang Kano

Dahil matagal ng libangan ng mga sundalong kano ang Subic at Olongapo, naging saksi ang mga ito sa marami-rami na ring insidente ng karahasan laban sa mga kababaihan, transgender, at maging sa mga kabataan.

Ayon sa mga iskolar at eksperto, ang karahasa’y bahagi na ng isang kulturang militar sa patuloy na pagdikdik sa sistema ng kasundaluhan ng mga awit at komentong kontra-kababaihan at transgender para hubugin sila na maging matibay at matapang na tagapagtanggol ng interes ng US.

Dahil dito’y kinamihasnan nang ituring ng mga kasundaluhan ang katawan ng kababaihan na tropeo ng katapangan at pagpupunyagi kapwa sa panahon ng pagsasanay at digma. Kung kaya’t ang abuso sa kababaihan (kasama ang mga lesbiana at gays) ay gawi rin mula sa kanilang sariling hanay hanggang sa mga lugar na kanilang ginagawang base o sila’y pansamantalang nakahimpil tulad ng Japan, Korea at sa Gitnang Silangan o Middle East.

Para sa Marinong US, ang R and R o rest and recreation ay sadyang pagkakataon para magpakagumon sa kamunduhan, alak at droga. At dahil sa pinakamalakas na military super power sa daigdig at may maituturing na mahigit pitong daang base sa mundo, hindi pa kasama dito ang mga security arrangements tulad ng EDCA at VFA, talagang ang hukbo ng Estados Unidos ay may pinakamahabang listahan ng mga kaso ng pang-aabusong sekswal.

Seguridad Ba Natin Kaya Narito Sila? 

Pinatunayan ng mahigit sangdaang taong pagiging dominanteng kapangyarihang ekonomiko at militar ng US sa mundo na pangunahing dahilan ang makinaryang militar nito sa pagpapanatili ng istabilidad at seguridad nito bilang dominanteng kapangyarihan. Gayundin, ang paglalagay nito sa peligro at pagkawasak ng maraming buhay, kabuhayan at sistema ng pamumuhay ng mga mamamayan at komunidad sa mundo.

Ang pag-sangayon ng Pilipinas na ipagamit ang mga kampo at teritoryo nito sa mga tropa at gamit pandigma ng US sa ilalim ng EDCA ay tunay na naka-kabahala. Lalo pa’t kinakasangkapan nito ang panggigipit ng Tsina bilang dahilan.

Ang totoo’y hindi lang talaga matanggihan ni Pnoy ang kagustuhan ng US na magamit ang teritoryo ng Pilipinas bilang bahagi ng desenyo nito na magdeploy ng mga pwersa nito sa mga estratehikong lokasyon sa Asya-Pasipiko para madali at pleksible nitong maideploy sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo nang di-gaanong gagastos.

Nitong pinakahuling Phiblex hindi pa man nagkabisa ang EDCA, may 9,000 sundalong Kano ang nasa teritoryo ng Pilipinas. Sa bisa ng EDCA at may 426 pinayagang joint military exercises, di malayong ang Pilipinas ay muli na naming magmistulang isang malaking kampo o garrison ng US.
Tayo’y wala namang kaaway bilang isang bansa, ngunit dahil kampi tayo sa Amerika, ang kanilang kaaway/ inaaway ay itinuturing na rin tayong kaaway. Isang pormula ito ng ligalig at digma lalu na’t mas nauna nang ipinahayag ng Amerika na itinuturing nitong karibal/kaaway ang Tsina at ang kanyang pivot o pagpapalakas ng pwersang-militar sa Asya- Pasipiko ay nakatutok dito. 

Igiit natin kay PNoy na ibasura ang MDT, VFA at EDCA o ihanda natin ang sarili as mga susunod pang Jennifer at Nicole.

Hustisya para kay Jennifer at sambayanang Pilipino!
Panagutin si PFC Scott Pemberton!
Soberanyang Bayan Ipaglaban! VFA IBASURA!


Oktubre 16,2014
Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan (KAISA KA)


Monday, September 29, 2014

PLUMP: The naked truth about The Naked Truth

PLUMP: The naked truth about The Naked Truth: The Naked Truth is supposedly a fashion show by Bench, launching their latest collection of denim and underwear to be flaunted by the bigges...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation:

Legitimizes Increasing Deployment of US Troops, Military Hardware in PH

 

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN) call on critical-minded Filipinos to closely scrutinize the newest security pact between PH and the US that is said to be ‘80 percent done’ as recently articulated by Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino. Batino coincidentally heads the PH negotiating panel that has been brokering this deal since August last year.  

 

Rather than meekly accepting that the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation  (AEDC) formerly known as Agreement on Increased Rotational Presence‘ will merely implement the general provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement,  we need to look closer at what is really at stake under this new deal.

 

New Basing Arrangements

 

             If the Visiting Forces Agreement opened the door to the controversial presence of more than 600 fully-armed and highly skilled Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTFP) in the heart of Mindanao, for the past 12 years, making these areas cooperative security locations (CSLs), a new basing arrangement.

 

AEDC will put in place another form of US military presence by accessing PH military bases and other areas to their rotating presence along with the right to pre-position their war machines and other military hardware in our territory. This is what is known as the Forward Operating Sites or FOS.

 

Another disturbing facet of the deal is that civic operation and disaster rescue are used as a flimsy cover by the US to showcase its capacity to respond to threat. Militarizing rescue operations sends the wrong signal altogether and actually de-sensitizes our people to the fact that these foreign troops are fully-armed and deadly soldiers. They are not gallivanting civilian tourists, like what Olongapo Mayor Paulino would like us to believe.

 

No Mutuality of Interests

 

            It is highly unlikely that a small country like ours will have the same agenda as the United States who wants to establish sole dominion in the Pacific, using its numerous allies in the region to project its military might against perceived rivals such as China.

 

            In common parlance, we’re letting our territory be used as a springboard for US aggression and power-play like in the past, where US troops from Subic and Clark were deployed to fight its enemies in Korea and Vietnam and even to Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Have we forgotten how vulnerable our OFWs were in the Middle East when we aligned ourselves with the US backed “Coalition of the Willing” against Iraq, which was a war of aggression to secure Iraq oil resources for the US? By siding with the US, our government is putting our national security at risk rather than protecting it. 

 

            If we align ourselves with a bully like the US, how can we expect to exist peaceably with our neighbors?  

 

            This deal is a win-lose situation. A clear win for the US as he has another legal cover tucked under its belt to enable it to make use of our strategic location as well as resources for its own ends, while we are left at the losing end, left to absorb the cost and danger of allowing access to foreign military troops in our lands and seas at the expense of our sovereignty and independence as a nation.        ####

ASSERT THE PEOPLE’S SOVEREIGNTY over the NATIONAL TERRITORY and PATRIMONY


            The Filipino people certainly want peace and development not only in Mindanao but throughout the country. But to state and corporate entities, both local and foreign, the desire for peace in Mindanao flows from varying and competing interests but nonetheless, are together marginalizing the local population, especially the poor and laboring masses.  

             As the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government signed on March 27, 2014 the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), WE in the Kilusan sa Pambansang Demokrasya (Kilusan) challenge the signing parties to guarantee unified sovereignty and patrimony with the accord they enter in the name of one Filipino nation, Moros and non-Moros alike.

             We respect the efforts of members of the two panels in working-out the peace accord but  still there is a need to maintain vigilance.  Though we believe CAB will indisputably lead to “relative transformation” in the lives of Christian settlers, Lumads, and Moros in the defined areas, we detest branding as “spoiler” any individual or collective view that would be critical of the accord or any of its provisions.  

             Reviewing recent and present history, we see US interests working through local cohorts, waylaying not only the right to self-determination of the Moro people but of the entire nation.

             There are reasons to be wary about the CAB. Its framework and that of its precursor, the 1996 peace agreement between the MNLF and the Philippine Government, are cut from the same neoliberal cloth.

 Unhampered Entry of Foreign Capital in Mindanao

             Prof. Kenneth E. Banzon, in his paper, Ruminations on the Bangsamoro Struggle and Neo-liberal Globalization, concluded that “the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was essentially a neoliberal formula designed to bring an end to the MNLF’s more than two decades of insurgency.” 

             The new Bangsamoro Political Entity being created by the new peace agreement between the government and the MILF is aimed at the most fundamental weakness of ARMM:  its inability to create conditions for an unhampered operation of private capital, especially foreign capital. 

 When war ends, a logical consequence of the CAB, will pave the way for the unhampered flow of capital in Mindanao. Rephrasing Prof. Banzon, the current peace agreement will provide “the legal cover for the entry of capital—both  domestic and foreign and both commercial and philanthropic—to facilitate the integration of an otherwise untapped region into the global neoliberal world economic order.”  

            The fundamental problem of the ordinary Moro people—the very conditions, created by the long history of the Philippines being a US neo-colony, were never part of the peace agenda nor of the new comprehensive peace agreement.

             At best, it only addressed peripheral facets of the problem like marginalization, monopoly of land, constricting territory for the Moro people and private interests within the Moro lands.

             Like other Filipinos, the residents of the new political entity continue to grapple with poverty, inability of the government to provide basic social and economic services as it passes on this responsibility to the private sector; and, the continuing presence of US military forces in Mindanao-Sulu that has already resulted to US troops involvement in human rights violations among the Moro populace.

             In the entire Mindanao-Sulu, is primed for unhampered foreign plunder.


            For instance, Liguasan Marsh in mainland Mindanao has natural gas deposits worth $580 billion. The 288,000-hectare Liguasan marsh is a case not only of the difficulty of upholding people’s sovereignty over natural resources  but also of conflicting local interests  such as former ARMM Governor Zacaria Candao who has stakes over 40 percent of the wetland and the Mangudatatus and the Pendatuns who have claimed another 40 percent, at the least. The Ampatuan and the Alamada clans were also mentioned as having claims in the Liguasan marsh.

             The seas of Sulu and Tawi-tawi are proven to be rich in oil, running also in billions of dollars.Agribusiness banners the route towards agricultural development. Expansion of palm oil, business process outsourcing (BPO) and tourism are on top of the list.

             Consistent with the Philippine constitution, the basic law that comes after the comprehensive agreement will declare that “vested property rights shall be recognized and respected.” 

             This cannot be far off from other areas of the country where mineral-rich mountain ranges are sealed off to be mining enclaves for multinational corporations. Several tribes of Lumads in Mindanao, after having been awarded with Certificates of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), will have to enter into contracts with agribusiness corporations to finance their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP). This practice is gradually transforming the Lumads into plantation workers. 

             Any genuine resolution of conflict should surface the contradictions operating in a society and decisively resolve these in the interest of the overwhelming majority of the  people. For most of the Christian settlers, the Lumads, and the Moros,  joining the bandwagon of neo-liberalism is to give away our national sovereignty and patrimony.

             Paraphrasing another author, peace that does not render social justice on the collective rights of the people is no peace, but “piece-meal” peace that is only for the privileged few.

             Assert and defend Filipino people’s sovereignty over the national territory and patrimony!

 

 

             ####

 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A case in Sitio Warwick Barracks, Brgy. Ermita Cebu City



Uphold and support the Carbon fire victims claim to humane life!
Uphold and support their claim for gainful employment and humane settlement!

A bigger calamity now threatens the over 2,000 victims of the recent fire in Carbon. 

In the January 11 fire they lost their wares, most material belongings, what they call homes. Some were hurt; a family lost a child.  

But while victims of other calamities -  Yolanda, Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo – are supported in picking up the pieces and rebuilding their lives, in the face of international concern,  the victims of the Carbon fire face the exact opposite.  They are being denied the opportunity to rebuild their lives.  The government that they thought would be there to lend a supporting hand is itself the source of the impending bigger disaster. 

The treatment of the fire victims was shabby from the start.  They were made to transfer form one area to another for temporary shelter and at this moment what was offered was a temporary space to stay on, along the road along the viaduct in the South Road Properties land.   Five hundred seventeen (517) victim families, who have lost their life’s belonging,  who have nowhere to go to, took the offer to share tents and  three portalets.  There is no water source other than that rationed;  no electricity supply for their temporary use.  The victim families were made to sign receipts for P10,000 while actually receiving only P5,000 as support from the local government.  Little did they know that this meagre support would be a send-off token. The Cebu Port Authority is now in such haste to drive them out of that area.  And the City hall bigwigs tell them they can no longer go back to their  vending in the area; they cannot take off from whatever life they lived pre-fire. They simply have to disappear from sight.  

The victims were vendors, trying to eke out a living sans opportunities for other gainful employment. They belong to the “jobless, but employed” people  Mahar Mangahas of SWS talk of.    They were homeless and thus have to make do living in their cramped, filthy place of work. Definitely, not the type of domicile a family with choice would choose.  But then they had no choice.  The meagre income they get from vending does not allow them to buy a decent home. 

Now, post-fire, the victims were told they could no longer go back to the only means of livelihood they had – vending in Carbon, unless the few who can be accommodated in a prettified public market can shell out the P50,000 bond required.  There is no plan nor offer of livelihood for those who do not have the means and those who cannot be accommodated.  Neither is there any offer for a humane and fitting resettlement. The vendors and their families simply have to go, no matter where.

The bigwigs in city hall including the supposed “father” of the constituents of Brgy. Ermita are preoccupied with their big plans for the so-called ‘development’ of that piece of Carbon, and several other sections in the market area. They want to make a spacious quadrangle for parking space with an obelisk at the center, bordered by better-looking stalls that will be leased with prepaid bond.  Plans that will purportedly provide the city better revenues both from rental and tourism.  And for them, the poor vendors are a deterrent to implementing that plan of a “development of the city”, which seemingly has long been in the drawing board.
The city hall bigwigs’ attitude towards the poor of Cebu City is best articulated by the Cebu City Market Administrator  who, when announced the plan not to allow the victims to go back to vending in the area said,  “I am here not to consult,  but to inform you, this is an informative meeting”  of the plan.  What gall!   Now where is all that talk of democracy?  Of inclusive growth and development?

What Cebu City is there to “develop” without the million of its poor people, who have to live their miserable lives, not by choice, but by force of circumstances? What city will exist and operate without the poor people  who do their daily grind to make the city live – the poor workers, the poor drivers, the poor stevedores,  the poor caregivers, the poor food providers, the poor vendors. They are the biggest bloc of consumers and thus of e-vat taxpayers. Yet the fire victims, among the city’s poor, do not figure in the city’s “development” planning.  

The poor are not parasites, unlike the robbers in government who steal by the millions and  billions of pesos.  In this society that fails to fairly and productively harness their productive capacity, they creatively find ways in order to work, earn their keep and thus assert their right to life. Joblessness and poverty is not of their own doing.  It is the condition of life society reduces them to.    And they are not anti-development.  They simply demand that development include them as human beings, as part of human society; not eyesores nor trash that can be thrown out when and where the powerful pleases. In fact in a real democracy, it is their will that should prevail, they being the majority. 

 We thus say, enough is enough.  No more of any anti-poor “development”.  We call on the Cebu City government:  provide the poor, especially the victims of calamities such as the recent  fire,  the opportunity for decent employment; gainful employment that can provide for food on their tables to nourish their body, education for their children to nourish their mind; shelter and clothing to protect them from the elements.  Provide them the more humane settlement close to their means of livelihood so they do not have to live in their workplaces and amidst the filth of a market.  A community where their children can safely study and play, where they breathe a fresher air; homes with provisions for the necessary utilities – water, power and for proper waste disposal, for privacy for women, for rest and relaxation after a hard day’s work.  Our working people,  those whose labour provides for society’s needs, deserve no less.  Until these are achieved, then and only then, can we talk of real, meaningful development for our people.

 And we call on those who aspire for a really humane society, join us in this call. Let the victims of disaster caused by fire know they are not alone in their aspiration and struggle for a more humane existence and life.

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya-Cebu (KILUSAN-CEBU)
19 February 2014

 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Assert Justice! Support the Citra Mina Workers’ Struggle for their Rights




Today, for the nth time since September, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB)  of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is calling a mediation session between the union of Citra Mina workers and the Citra Mina Group of Companies’ (CMGC) management.  The issue of dispute : the arbitrary, summary dismissal of 180 workers and employees of Citra Mina Group of Companies  last September 16, 2013, in the wake of the workers’ formation of their union. Majority of those dismissed are union members and officers.  The mass dismissal forced the workers to go on strike on November . 

To effect the mass termination of employment, the CMGC employed the old, long-exposed trick of so-called “independently-operating” sister companies, where one is made to appear losing while the other is making money.  

CMGC  claims, after the union was organized and duly registered with the Bureau of Labor Relations, that they have five independently-operating sister companies – the Citra Mina Seafoods Corporation (CMSC), the Mommy Gina Tuna Resources (MGTR), Philfresh, Tuna Exporters, Inc and the Citra Mina Seafoods Market, Inc. (CMSI), the retailing arm. And that they have decided to cease the operations of CMSC because it was losing due to “reduced market demand for fresh frozen fish”.  

The fact is that all the first four so-called independent companies are operating as one under the CGMC.  CMGC’s operation is divided into divisions, not companies – the CMGC Human Resource Department, the CMGC Administrative Department, the CMGC Accounting Department, the CMGC Plant Production Department,  etc. This singular operation is centered in a single compound in Tambler, General Santos City with a signage as Citra Mina Group of Companies, in just one building within the compound with no distinct production areas. The production hall is divided not along “distinct companies” but rather, along product line with no distinction in employers.  Regular lead persons listed as CMSC workers are likewise listed as MGTR lead persons. Meanwhile the bulk of the workforce is provided on contractual basis by another Lu-operated labor only-contracting company, the Manpower  

There is a common employee ID card issued by the CMGC CHRD in 2010, common CGMC-issued forms from each department to be filled-up by all employees without so-called employer distinction; common office policies and employee manual. Production groupings are formed without distinction as to distinct “employers”. The single CMGC CHRD can transfer production workers from one product line to another; can hire, suspend and dismiss any of the employees; can transfer workers from so-alled “CMSC” list to “MGTR” lists. Each CMGC fishing vessel is manned collectively by a crew without “employer” distinction – the boat captain maybe listed as MGTR employee, the boat engineer, a CMSC employee. 

The claim of “reduced market demand for fresh frozen fish products” does not hold water. Just a day after the arbitrary termination of employment of the union officers and members, the CMGC, through “Mommy Gina Tuna Resources” posted an announcement for urgent hiring for the same positions vacated.

The claim of “ CMSC losses” will likewise not hold.  CMGC was hiring new probationaries in 2013 prior to the arbitrary dismissal of workers, in fact listing 49 of these probationaries as new CMSC employees and workers.  

The termination of 180 employees and workers is plain and simple union busting.  There was no “cessation of fresh frozen fish operation” as claimed.  The urgent hiring for the same positions vacated attests to this. It clearly demonstrates that the Citra Mina management simply cannot, and will not, allow the workers to exercise their right to free association, i.e. to organize a union. The workers cannot be allowed to have a collective voice on matters of common concern.

A considerable number of those dismissed have been with the company for more than a decade, some for more than a score.  Yet they still receive only the daily minimum wage of P270  while being made to assume bigger responsibilities.  A boat captain, a boat engineer, a boat oiler receive the same wage as a vessel crew.  Worse they are made to poach in Indonesian waters, and face the risk of incarceration, as indeed a whole vessel crew were caught by Indonesian authorities in 1995 and imprisoned for two years.  

Suspensions are imposed arbitrarily even for minor infractions. Worse, even for the most unreasonable pretexts.  Last year, when a boat oiler refused to fish in Indonesian waters without the proper legal documents, he was arbitrarily suspended. A worker who got dizzy due to inhalation of hazardous gas while at work, sent home by his supervisor, and suffered the lingering effect of such inhalation for days was arbitrarily suspended when he reported back for work. 

And minor infractions are used to cut short the employees work record.  Thus an old boat captain who has been with the company since 1992 is recorded as hired only in 2005. In fact, the company’s employees record show the earliest hired employee as being with the company only since 2002.     

In 2010, the workers were made to work for extended hours (2-4 hours more) for months without extra pay, purportedly to help the company take off. Yet when the company did take off, the workers’ condition never improved.

It took years before the workers succeeded to form a union that can serve as their collective voice.  Yet that success in exercising that right became their own curse.  They lost their jobs; their families are now starved, penalized for the workers’ effort at building a capability to seek more humane terms and conditions of work.
The right to free association is an inherent workers’ right, a right borne out of their being members of the human specie, the most social of living species. And this right, and the accompanying rights to bargain collectively and to concerted action when justified have been enshrined for nearly a century in international statutes and for decades in local statutes.  Yet the family of Joaquin Lu, out of greed for profit, can shamelessly, arrogantly trample on these rights.

The condition in Citra Mina mirrors the condition of workers elsewhere in the country. Workers get short-changed; perpetually kept on contractual employment; paid with starvation wages; denied their rights. No wonder poverty is high even among employed wage-and-salaried workers. And why despite the gargantuan increase in the labor force, the number of unionized workers nearly halved in the past ten years.

This injustice to workers cannot be let to pass. We stand with the workers of Citra Mina in their struggle to assert their rights : to a fair share of the fruits of their labour; to associate and address common concerns in concert; for humane conditions of work and life. And we call on all those who value justice and democracy to join us in this struggle.

We call on other similarly situated workers : Dare to assert your rights. Break free from the chain of submission that have kept you passive while your rights are violated.  You will not be alone.

We call on the DOLE: Perform your constitutional duty to uphold the workers’ rights.  Let your action on this issue speak on the PNoy government’s attitude and policy on human rights.

 Kilusan sa Pambansang Demokrasya
18 February 2014