Militant groups commemorate Bonifacio Day with mass protest
MANILA, Philippines—Various militant groups from the labor sector commemorated the 148th birth anniversary of Philippine national hero and revolutionary Andres Bonifacio Wednesday with mass protest action at the historic Don Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) Bridge.
“This rally…on the birthday of a great revolutionary proletarian leader, Andres Bonifacio, is organized by broad labor and pro-masses organizations in order to assert the democratic right to have a better life, which the [Aquino] regime is not providing our people whatsoever,” Rasti Delizo, spokesman of Sanlakas, said in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
“We join hands with millions of working people around the world who are rising against the elite rule and failed neoliberal policies—from the Arab uprisings to the occupation movements in the United States, Europe and other countries,” Josua Mata, secretary general of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), said in a statement.
The groups included the Partido Lakas ng Masa, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon, Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Taga-Lungsod, Metro Manila Vendors Alliance, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) and Partido ng Manggagawa. The protesters numbered around 3,600, according to the APL and Sanlakas.
APL said in its statement that “the richest one percent of the population controls 30 percent of the national income, while the bottom 50 percent [of the population] has to do with 20 percent of the income.”
Delizo said that Sanlakas was against the “pro-rich economic policies” of the Aquino regime. “His (Aquino’s) cabinet is composed mainly of corporate bosses, and they constitute the one percent elite and greedy capitalists as opposed to the 99 percent of the masses who are poor, oppressed and exploited.”
“All his cabinet members are actually members of the big business community and the capitalist elite. For as long as they continue to rule our country, our poor people who are the majority, the 99 percent, will continue to remain oppressed and exploited and impoverished. And that is why we are fighting today to reclaim our democratic rights for a better life,” he added.
Both the APL and the Sanlakas groups said they were one with Palea members in condemining the Aquino regime, which Delizo said “has turned a blind eye and has remained practically silent in the struggle for social justice of the PAL workforce.”
APL criticized Aquino for siding with PAL owner Lucio Tan, who removed 2,600 regular workers.
“The [Aquino] regime has supported the Department of Labor and Employment in imposing an assumption of jurisdiction policy that withdraws the right to strike, which is in direct violation of the 1987 Labor Code of the Philippines and the international labor organization conventions and standards. So this is a violation of the economic and social rights of the workers to strike and to struggle for their collective bargaining position,” Delizo said.
Sanlakas also welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to distribute the Hacienda Luisita land to the farmers.
“We definitely welcome such a decision even though it’s more than 20 years late, because this is a democratic right of the farm workers to have a portion of the land that they are tilling,” Delizo said.
After holding their programs in the Don Chino Roces Bridge, some of the groups joined Palea in holding another separate rally near terminal two of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.
The rally was generally peaceful and police force deployed to the area was minimal.
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