March 27, 2011 in national
By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
BAGUIO CITY — During the peace forum here, initiated by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on March 19, participants asked what is in the peace talks for them.
What would benefit the different sectors of society by participating in the on going peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPh) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)? Was asked on the floor.
With the resumption of the formal peace talks that has been running the past 25 years between the Gph and the NDFP, earlier this year, the warming -up and restatement of joint agreements, and agreed agenda have been on the news.
Rafael Baylosis, member of the Reciprocal Working Committee on Social-Economic Reforms, NDF (RWC-SER, NDF), NDFP speaker at this forum, said all sectors should actively participate in forums on the peace talks.
The next sequential agreement to be discussed in this round of talks will be Social Economic reforms and these will address the root causes of the armed conflict and the abject poverty of the Filipino masses.
An important program in the NDF Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms (CASER) draft is on National Industrialization he said.
This will ensure an economic development for the Filipino people and the working class in particular. The rights and benefits accrued for workers will be ensured, Baylosis said.
Elmer Labog of the KMU echoed the worker’s six point demands to be considered for the CASER. These include: legislation of across the Board salary increase for the private and public sector, dissolution of the Regional Wage Boards and the setting up of a National Minimum Wage, end to conractualization, flexible work and outsourcing and end to the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Assumption of Jurisdiction on legitimate labor disputes.
Baylosis further said, on national industrialization, they aim to at least have an agreement that the mining industry should be Filipino owned if not state owned.
On the other hand Beverly Longid, president of Katribu partylist said there should be a wider and deeper discussion on the issue of national industrialization by the panel. When it comes to mining industry, KATRIBU backs the NDFP’s stand that at the minimum, the industry should be Filipino owned.
However, she added that there is a need to study the most appropriate mining method that will benefit not only the interest of the workers but also the interests of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and the nation in general.
“…an alternative method of mining that is not destructive to the environment and not hazardous to the health of the workers and the communities where the mines would operate,” she iterated.
She clarified that IPs are not anti-development. They (the IPs) have been opposing corporate mining and other large scale development project concessions because it is not serving the interest of communities and the nation as a whole.
A case in point is the Lepanto Mines in Mankayan Benguet.
For several decades of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company’s (LCMCo) operation, Longid said the mine workers did not benefit from it because they have been denied their just wages and their security of tenure. This according to her is evident with the workers’ filing of several notices of strike (NOS).
She added that the communities that allowed the operation were not given due compensation even those that were stipulated in their memorandum of agreement (MOA). She pointed out that the communities have been complaining of the company’s non execution of the provisions of their MOA.
Moreover, she said LCMCo is accountable to the effects of its operations like the ground subsidence, pollution of the Abra river that has destroyed vast agricultural lands downstream in Ilocos and Abra, and the health hazards it has brought to the mine workers and to the communities.
“Who benefits from this mining operations? If not the workers, the communities and the Filipino people, it is defenitely the foreign owned mining company,” she said.
With this, she told this writer that Katribu will support the call of the communities from Mankayan down to Ilocos and Abra for the stoppage of LCMCo’s operation.
Elmer Labog, said that there is a great potential for the country to be industrialized. According to him, the country is rich in mineral resources, man power and money. If these are used for the benefit of the people and not of foreign interest, it is achievable for the country to be industrialized.
The NDFP and GPh agreed to complete the draft agreements in the next 18 months. According to the Joint Statement issued by both panels, the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) may be completed and signed by the Panels in September 201.
The draft Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) may be completed and signed by the Panels in February 2012; and the draft Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF) may be completed and signed by the Panels in June 2012. # nordis.net