[This statement was sent out by the Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) for publication on May 1, Sunday]
Amid the frenzied colors of the upcoming national and local elections, the color red stands out in living flesh among the toiling masses, private and public sector workers, the urban and rural poor, women and youth, the kith and kin of migrant workers, and all who live by their honest labor.
All mass organizations in the Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) stand with the Filipino workers as they celebrate International Labor Day 2016. We are particularly in solidarity this year with the starving farmers, being killed by drought and bullets in Mindanao for land, food and justice.
We are one in demanding better wages and salaries, an end to contractual labor, better working conditions and retirement benefits, less taxes, public and not privatized social services, people’s rights against state repression, genuine agrarian reform and industrialization, and the assertion of national sovereignty against foreign domination and control.
In the streets of Manila, we march in our thousands, red as ever, from the main entrance of Malacañang Palace at the Mendiola Bridge to the sunset boulevard fronting the US embassy. We stand for genuine freedom and democracy.
The United States remains the biggest enemy of freedom and democracy in the Philippines as it is in the world today, with or without elections. The restoration of elections and a democratic facade after years of US-backed martial law never changed the fundamentally backward semifeudal and neocolonial character of Philippine society. Patronage politics still dominate even with “automated” elections. The shameful ComeLeaks have just broken the seal of the vote’s sanctity.
Labor is exploited and oppressed more than ever under elite democracy. Miserable living and working conditions drove millions and generations overseas only to be mulcted by the government and foreign finance of the more than $25-billion a year remittances. Squalid conditions at home await their return.
While all presidential candidates have promised to stop labor contractualization and protect labor rights, they are all one in attracting more foreign investors and opening the country for greater exploitation of cheap labor and resources. Whoever wins will face the lobby for Charter Change to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of land, resources and vital industries along with the US push for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Asean integration.
Insidious anti-worker policies are entrenched in the 1989 Labor Code, effectively dismantling a national minimum wage and allowed the widespread contractualization of labor. The government’s Assumption of Jurisdiction and the use of armed state forces cracked down on militant unions and strikes. Labor leaders and defenders have been killed or arrested and many are still detained along with other political prisoners. We demand their immediate and unconditional release.
Foreign trade, investments, loans and corporate rule continue to bleed the economy while the US uses the Chinese incursions into the West Philippine Sea to widen access for military troops and facilities under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The roots of the armed resistance of the New People’s Army and the Moro people need to be addressed for a just and lasting peace. The continuation of a US-supported counterinsurgency war can only worsen the immeasurable human costs and suffering. This is true in the Philippines as elsewhere in the world under imperialism and its brutal wars of aggression and intervention.
The ILPS-Philippines holds high the banner of the anti-imperialist struggle this Labor Day. We do so in solidarity with all workers and oppressed peoples of the world as we look forward to national liberation and social emancipation.
Fight for freedom and democracy!
Long live international solidarity!