[Statement] #LaborDay2019: Migrant workers march in fury against the tyrannical Duterte regime -Migrante International

On a global scale, the first of May is regarded by workers as a day of mass action and protest against the prevailing order of exploitation and injustice. United with all the militant unions of workers worldwide, Migrante International marks the observance of this hallowed occasion to laud the Filipino working class in its struggle to attain emancipation from the scourge of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism.

Taking part on this day reaffirms our commitment to unionize Filipino workers as well as in organizing their families and other sectors within the frame of the national democratic interests of the Filipino masses. This is also a global day of action to denounce modern-day slavery and the intensifying labor export program of the Duterte regime

In 2018, OFW remittances reached $33.8 Billion. The economy remains dependent on remittances and loans. Without financing from external sources, the economy will falter even more due to the absence of national industrialization efforts. While the Duterte regime lavishes in the profusion of state-exactions and remittances from OFWs, Filipino migrant workers continue to suffer neglect and exploitation. OFW contributions to the struggling Philippine economy are not getting translated to genuine protection of migrants’ rights and welfare.

Last year, Saudi-OFW and cancer patient Allan Rafael were illegally arrested, robbed and killed by Manila police in a police station in Quiapo, Manila. He was severely tortured by the police to coerce him to admit involvement in illegal drugs based on his frail and emaciated physical appearance. Unsafe working conditions in his former host country and poor medical services in the Philippines contributed to his physical deterioration. He fought for his life but Fascism and injustice under the blood-thirsty Duterte regime eventually led to his tragic death.

This flagrant culture of impunity under the Duterte regime was made apparent when Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna got promoted as Bulacan’s chief of police after leading the deadly Caloocan raid that claimed the lives of children from OFW families, Kian delos Santos, and Carl Arnaiz. Bersaluna is the same police chief behind the violent dispersal and illegal arrests of striking workers in NutriAsia in July 2018.

In the parliament of the streets, we march with indignation against the tyrannical Duterte regime and the intensifying oppression of Filipino workers under his watch. Enabled by the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions in the country, Duterte’s reign of terror further emboldens the big owners of capital to mercilessly exploit and imperil the lives of Filipino workers. Even a virulent earthquake last month failed to stir them to evacuate BPO and mall workers to safety.

Trade union repression, contractualization, poor working conditions and the absence of a national minimum wage aggravates the problem of forced migration in the Philippines. The terrible plight of workers in the Philippines placed the country among the world’s ten worst countries for workers according to the 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index.

The severity of excruciating labor conditions in the Philippines and the high unemployment rate drives several thousand Filipinos daily to overseas deployment. Even abroad, the Duterte regime’s voracious appetite for forced remittances through state exactions is bleeding OFW pockets dry. Aside from the rising cost of living due to Duterte’s TRAIN Law, migrant workers and their families would now have to contend with higher amounts of mandatory OFW contributions in Philhealth and SSS (Social Security System).

Recently, PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde derogated KMU and even falsely claimed that rallies, strikes and union organizing are the roots of joblessness and low investor confidence in the Philippines. To gain proof that his words are indeed blatant lies, Albayalde only has to look at the countries with the highest levels of labor union membership and militancy to find out that these are the very countries where Filipinos prefer to live and work permanently. These are the same countries that addressed the problems of landlessness and massive unemployment through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

Instead of guaranteeing the rights of workers to organize and assemble freely, PNP chief Albayalde has actually chosen the side of the ruling exploiters who continue to afflict workers with poverty-wages and harsh working conditions.

As agents of trade union persecution and state-terrorism, the inclusion of AFP and PNP in the anti-worker matrix is indeed indisputable. These Fascist institutions do not serve the interests of the Filipino working class but those of the elite and their imperialist masters.

Moreover, the habitual red-tagging and black propaganda being waged by AFP and PNP against trade unions, progressive organizations, MAKABAYAN party-lists and candidates is contradictory to their non-partisanship and apolitical claims. Furthermore, murderous sycophants from AFP and PNP are among the primary culprits in state-sponsored killings through the Duterte regime’s fake war against drugs and the anti-people Oplan Kapayapaan.

The Duterte regime and his armed brutes detest seeing Filipino workers exercise their political rights in any militant form of social action. By the same token, the consistent domination of MAKABAYAN party-list and senatorial candidates in mock polls threatens Duterte’s lust for absolute control in both chambers of Congress.

This 13th of May, the Filipino people will be able to express their desire for real change through the ballot. Outside the Philippines, overseas absentee voting has already started but the utter disenfranchisement of registered Filipino overseas absentee voters is marked by delays in the arrival of mailed ballots and the burdensome cost of paying for their own postal stamps.

Overseas Filipino workers deserve pro-labor legislators who will uphold the rights and welfare of the Filipino workers both in the Philippines and abroad. Ensuring free and honest elections is in the interest of OFWs. Accordingly, Migrante International will continue to monitor and file reports and cases of irregularities and disenfranchisement.

With the heightening of imperialist greed and plunder, the global economic crises generated by neoliberal economic policies bear out the rottenness and failure of global monopoly capitalism. This corrupt economic system denies workers the right to live and work decently in their own countries as seen in the mass deployment of Filipino workers abroad through the government’s labor export program and the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines.

The debt-ridden and overpriced infrastructure projects are not providing employment to Filipinos whom Panelo insulted as unskilled in construction. The influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines highlights the failure of Duterte’s Build, Build, Build to provide stable jobs to Filipinos. It likewise attests to the failure of China’s capitalist mode of production to secure decent lives for its citizens in their own country.

Members of the ruling elite set themselves to preserve this vile economic and societal order by pitting one group of workers against another. Lest we forget that this strife is not between exploited workers of two or three diverse races. For certain, it is a clash between the elite oppressive class and the oppressed workers of the world.

#KasamaAkoSaMayoUno for we side with the working class, the peasants and that of the other basic spheres of society to denounce imperialist domination and to overthrow Duterte’s reign of terror.

Let us then take up the cudgels and bolster our strength by uniting in solidarity for the attainment of social justice and liberation. As the real masters of production, our heroic workers stand as the creators of a new and better world where oppression and exploitation shall be no more. Rising above adversities, the triumph of our struggle for national democracy is at hand.

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