Awareness raising crucial in struggle vs “anti-Filipino” neoliberal policies

By JEOFFREY MHAR LARUA
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Representatives from labor and professional groups here provided an analysis of different neoliberal policies affecting the workers’ sector “that express aversive effects on labor” in a forum, April 18, at the Baguio City Hall.

Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding, convener of the workers’ alliance All Workers’ Unity (AWU) in Metro Baguio, said that there is an important need to raise awareness among workers and professionals about the continuing struggle of workers, both in government and the private sector, against neoliberal policies.

Much to be done

According to think tank, Ibon Foundation, there is still much to be done for the Duterte administration to tackle the Philippine government’s “stubborn adherence” to “anti-Filipino” neoliberal policies.

In their presentation, senior researcher Casey Salamanca said that the Duterte administration’s proposed socio-economic agenda poses a danger to workers as it lacks support for pro-Filipino industrialization.

“The current administration listed a few initial and very doable proposals for promoting national industrialization for national development but none have been adopted in any form,” said Salamanca.

She added that the administration’s socio-economic agenda puts more importance on attracting foreign investment, undermining the need to develop a more solid backbone for the country’s industry.

Salamanca also said that under the current neoliberal agenda, Filipino workers are subjected to unfair wages while an estimated 11.5 million remain unemployed.

“Under the current administration’s proposed agenda, lower tiered workers will have to pay P2,900 additional taxes in a year while those earning above P6 million per annum will pay P232,500 less,” she said.

Concrete manifestations

AWU convener Cawiding said that the Cordillera region is not spared for the neoliberal policies affecting the country’s working sector. She, along with other sectoral representatives, gave contextualized manifestations of these policies in the teaching, transport, youth, and health sectors.

According to Cawiding, who is also a representative for Alliance of Concerned Teachers – CAR (ACT-CAR), among the aversive effects stemming from the current neoliberal agenda are the low wages of teachers and government employees in the region.

Cawiding also highlighted the looming implementation of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) law that will only “milk money from already cash-strapped” professionals. The CPD law requires teachers and other licensed professionals to gain 45 credit units in three years. Credit units are referred to as trainings given by a CPD provider accredited by the PRC.

Meanwhile, Mike Cabangon of the region’s Kilusang Mayo Uno chapter highlighted the underpayment of contractual employees in the region and the suppression of the right to unionize.

“Companies and others have been adopting neoliberal schemes, which violate workers’ right and worse violate rights left available to workers’ with impunity because of laws that allow them to,” said Cabangon in Filipino.

Youth sector, too

A representative of the youth sector also said that among the concrete manifestations of the current neoliberal agenda in the country is the implementation of the K-12 educational system.

According to King Cris Pulmano of Anakbayan Cordillera, the K-12 will only produce graduates for export to foreign nations.

“The current system trains students to be foreign-oriented, favoring study areas that are inclined to available jobs abroad,” said Pulmano. # nordis.net

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