Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., talked about endo, among other business concerns, at a recent edition of the Kamuning Bakery Pandesal Forum, and even as I stayed just listening, his discourse coursed me through a recollection of what I would say is an amazing revelation: endo has become a malignant New People’s Army (NPA) disease, too, and it kills.
A very reliable source had recently disclosed to me that some time ago, a bishop in Mindoro had to assist in bringing to a hospital a score of Mangyans who sustained a variety of injuries: a broken leg here, a dislocated arm there, otherwise serious cuts on the body, including a near-broken skull. According to the bishop, the injured Mangyan men were picked up by responding folks at the foot of a deep ravine. Investigation by authorities revealed that the Mangyan natives had been recruited into the NPA — under terms that you might call the “NPA endo.”
As the hospitalized natives disclosed during the investigation, they agreed to join the rebel force at the price of P2,500 per six months!
Endo: The analysis
I have been analyzing endo and I arrived at this conclusion: endo, for being a mechanism for redistributing society’s available employment to as wide a coverage as possible of the entirety of the labor force, has — quite the contrary to what trade unionists picture it to be, that is, as a reactionary instrument against workers — become actually a most democratic doctrinaire for the working masses. Endo enables the unemployed to share in the pie for labor otherwise up for grabs only for those already in employment. By virtue of the union shop provision of collective bargaining agreements, the union is able to exclusivize employment for its members.|
I sure am happy that I have lived long enough to realize that what I was proclaiming back in the First Quarter Storm in the ‘70s as revolutionary trade unionism is actually one dastardly reactionary doctrine, serving the vested interests of a few to the utter exclusion of the many.
Days of misguided revolution
You see, I was in the frontlines of the Strike Movement carried out by the Communist Party of the Philippines as the main form in the cities of its revolutionary struggle for bringing about National Democracy in the Philippines. A core group would be formed then turned over to me for ideological reformation, which I did through a number of educational sessions in which the main course was my self-crafted curriculum on political economy. When after my lectures the workers began demanding pillboxes by which to blast the damn capitalists, that was signal enough that they had been ideologically honed on the violence endemic in strikes.
In fact, this was my own experience when, in April 1971, I organized the Katipunan ng mga Makabayang Obrero ng Makabayang Publishing Corp., the publishing business of Mar Roxas’ grandfather J. Amado Araneta, whom activist called “allergic to labor unions.” As soon as I presented the union demands to the management, I was pronto handed my walking papers. And, thus, we went on strike.
It was in that strike that I first got a feel of a confrontation with that segment of the working class called scabs.
What are scabs? These are workers like you and I, with the simple difference: We in the trade union movement are enjoying employment; the scabs are jobless workers. By my preaching of trade unionism, the scabs were pictured as so abominable that they were classified not with the self-righteous “revolutionary workers” in the trade union movement but with the “class enemy,” the capitalist.
And so, as you would wham with your placards and other blunt weapons (like homemade bombs called pillboxes and crude missiles called pana) the company security guards, police and other personnel of the management, so would you without qualms hit the strikebreakers called eskirol (Filipino for scabs) in their attempts to crash through the picket line.
I might have hit some myself not just in the Makabayan strike, but in other strikes as well. For that, I am sorry. I was so naïve at the time as to equate Jose Maria Sison’s megalomaniac quest for political power with the workers’ struggle for class emancipation, thus take Sison’s call for a protracted people’s war as one for the liberation of workers.
It is ironic that to this day, those in the trade union movement sincerely believe their advocacy of ending the endo is good for the working class. No, it is not. Ending endo is good only for the unionized workers.
During my days of preaching “revolutionary trade unionism,” I often elaborated on the phenomenon of the existence of a large mass of unemployed in a capitalist set-up.
In his Das Kapital, Marx called this the reserve army of capitalism — from which to draw immediate replacement for recalcitrant employees. Marx reasoned that maintaining such large army of unemployed is the capitalist effective way of curbing workers’ frequent demand for wage increase and other benefits.
When the endo employment system was introduced years ago, it was precisely along Marx’s definition of “the reserve army of capitalism,” serving the purpose of blunting unionized workers’ struggle against capitalists.
In fact, in the endo system, the enterprise in which the endo employees work is not their employers but the agencies that recruit them for their job in the enterprise. This has been a most effective run-around means for business enterprises to escape labor laws, particular laws on trade unions. This is the reason why such large enterprises as SM Malls and giant drug manufacturers are labor unions-free; their workers are not their employees but those of the agencies that recruited them. Ergo, they cannot strike against the enterprises in which they work.
Clearly, from the point of view of trade unionism, endo must be bad.
Endo is good for the working class
But is endo bad for that great mass of unemployed from whom capitalists draw replacements for those who must end their work after every five months? Certainly, not. Endo gives them the opportunity to gain a fair share of society’s available employment. And done on a rotating basis, Endo makes it possible for such enjoyment to be true for all of society’s labor force, instead of just a few.
Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, in the above-cited Kamuning Bakery Pandesal Forum, pointed out that of the estimated 41 million Philippine labor force, rougly 2.3 million are unemployed. This means that those working could number 38 million. According to Dr. Liong, of that number, only about 300,000 are unionized.
By advocating end to endo, trade unionists are actually upholding the interest of a minuscule portion of the Phililippine labor force.
And you call that revolutionary?
The question leads the discussion back to the incident cited above involving Mangyan natives.
“How come those Mangyans were so emasculated when found below the ravines?” I asked my informant.
My informant narrated that some time ago, there was this reported encounter between the military and the NPA in the ridges of Mindoro. Not trained to fight — having joined the rebels only to avail of the P2,500-fee per six months — the Mangyans chose, at the first sound of firing, to vault into the ravines, risking life and limb rather than be riddled with AFP bullets.
It does seem incongruent that self-proclaimed revolutionaries in the ranks of organized trade unions fiercely agitate for end to endo when their armed counterpart NPA has only just begun to embrace it.