CPP slams DOLE statement exempting firms from 13th-month payment
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –– Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III’s recent proposal to exempt employers from paying the 13th-month pay to workers this year betrays the labor official’s lack of sympathy for wage earners, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a statement sent to media groups.
The CPP, which has been waging a five-decade war against the government, was reacting to Bello’s statement during an online press briefing on Thursday, after the Employers Confederation of the Phils. (ECOP) announced that some two million workers may not receive their bonuses this December.
“The Labor Department’s proposal to allow capitalists to forego payment of 13-month salaries is completely unacceptable to millions of hard-up workers,” said Marco Valbuena, CPP chief information officer.
“It is shameless as Duterte’s minions squabble over billions of pesos of pork barrel and big capitalists are pampered with tax exemptions. Sec. Bello, don’t you have any ounce of sympathy for the workers left in you?”
Under the Philippine labor law, all employers are mandated to pay their workers 13th-month pay—or payment equivalent to a 12th of a worker’s basic annual salary—not later than December 24 each year.
But the CPP noted that the same law also allowed an exemption of commercial establishments classified as “distressed” from paying the bonus.
“Workers raised the alarm over this provision as the term is too broad and vague and may be used as a pretext by capitalists to accumulate more profit amid the pandemic,” Valbuena said. “Labor groups demanded the regime to bail out micro, small, and medium enterprises in dire straits instead of denying workers their much-needed payout,” he added.
This developed as Valbuena justified the recent NPA ambushes in Surigao del Sur and Samar as well “within international rules of war,” after receiving a statement of condemnation from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
“With all due respect, we take exception to CHR’s presumption that the attacks were ‘senseless violations’ on the right to life,” said Valbuena, in reaction to CHR’s statement on Saturday, condemning the NPA offensives.
“The three ambushes referred to by the CHR were all aimed at military targets and are legitimate acts of war as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions,” Valbuena’s statement said.
“The October 4 encounter in Lianga, Surigao del Sur was against Magahat-Bagani paramilitaries,” he said, referring to the firefight that killed three armed paramilitaries, including the Magahat-Bagani leader Hawudon Jomar Bucales suspected to have masterminded the 2015 killing of two Lumad leaders and the executive director of the Lumad school Alcadev in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. “The Magahat-Bagani is a tool used by the 3rd Infantry Battalion in combat and psywar operations,” Valbuena said in the statement.
The military earlier reported hundreds of indigenous peoples and residents of Lianga town in Surigao del Sur staged an indignation rally
on Saturday to denounce Bucales’ killing.
A video shared by the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) showed a motorcade around Lianga that culminated in a rally against the communist movement.
Bucales, who represented the Lumad in the Lianga municipal council as indigenous people’s mandatory representative, was buried on Saturday, according to Maj. Rodulfo Cordero, 4ID public information officer.
“The October 2 ambush in Lanuza town, Surigao del Sur was against Pfc. Ariel Guinsod Maca, a 36th IB personnel who handled CAFGU recruitment in Barangay Pakwan and reportedly coerced Lumad residents to surrender as NPA members,” the CPP statement said, denying reports that Maca was tortured.
“The (October 7) ambush in Jiabong town, Samar, was against local counterinsurgency police forces. We are awaiting details from the local NPA command as regards reports that civilians were hurt in the action,” said Valbuena.
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