​Labor Day protests go on despite highway checkpoints

May. 02, 2018

DIFFERENT DUTERTE. Labor groups led by Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao (KMU-SMR) bring an effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte as they march from Magsaysay Avenue to Roxas Avenue in Davao City during the commemoration of Labor Day on Tuesday, May 1. The labor group said the effigy portrays the economic and political repression against workers under the Duterte administration. (Medel V. Hernani/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Around 3,000 workers from all over Southern Mindanao ​eventually made it the protest ​march ​here on Labor Day despite holding for hours the throng of mostly plantation workers ​in a highway in three provinces in the Davao Region.

During the morning’s unified protest rally led by Kilusang Mayo Uno and Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition, the group marched and called on the Duterte administration to fulfill his promise to end contractualization.

According to the group, “​it is a historical day of struggle among workers since ​the ​last unified protest in 1989 who have forged an alliance to come together and collectively push for the immediate ending of “​endo”​, or the end o contract scheme​.

“Contractualization, as part of labor flexibilization must be stopped.It denies workers of their basic rights such as security of tenure, living wages, right to organize, right to strike, collective bargaining, right to humane working conditions, and participation in policymaking. It threatens the quality of life of working people all over the country.” said Rodel Abenoja, coordinator of Nagkaisa Labor Coalition.

They also challenged the Duterte administration ​to walk the talk and prove sincerity towards the workers.

Unfazed by threats

Reports from KMU-SMR said there ​we​re ​some 800 farm workers from the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Del Norte, and Davao Oriental ​who ​were delayed ​in the 13 checkpoints to prevent them from joining the protest.

READ: ComVal workers resort to highway barricade after prevented from joining Labor Day rally

According to Carlo Olalo,​ who is the spokesperson of KMU-SMR, the checkpoints ​we​re not just a standard operating procedure for local authorities for security in entering Davao City.

“it is a clear harassment and curtailment of the worker’s rights. If they really want to check everyone for security reasons, then they should include every person entering the city, not just the workers who are obviously attending the rally,” said Olalo.

Olalo also said that the harassment being done to the workers is a clear manifestation that the local government of Davao is imposing state repression towards civilian rights. “It is a picture of Martial Law.”

In a statement, Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, Southern Mindanao police spokesperson said “We need to implement proper verification and check of all vehicles and passengers coming into Davao City. PNP is doing just to ensure everyone’s safety and safety of the motorists this Labor Day”.

During the closing part of the program, another commotion happened when some police personnel prevented the protester from burning the effigy. The police insisted that there is a directive from the City government prohibiting the burning of materials in the city. Upon negotiation, the program continues as well as the burning the effigy.

EO as ‘Band-aid solution’

Olalo also said that the signing of the Executive Order is just a band-aid solution by the president towards the anger of the workers nationwide.

According to him, the EO signed by the president is not for the workers. Yet, it represents the interest of the company owners being endorsed by Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Olalo also reiterate that the after the series of dialogues being done with the president, workers organization have submitted five drafts of proposed EO to repeal in Congress of Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code. He said that the president promised to end contractualization but eventually turned it over to the house of representatives.

“it is just a form of deceiving the workers. The truth is, the president doesn’t have a will to solve the issue. We are fed up with many excuses regarding contractualization,” said Olalo. (davaotoday.com)

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