Facts & Figures

The water crisis is far from over. Water interruptions as well as safe water accessibility and affordability issues persist. Water-related infrastructure are also being built on loans and under potentially onerous deals with other countries that subvert Philippine sovereignty. The matter has been undermining Filipino consumers and the nation’s interests. Here is the conclusion of the April 2009 IBON Facts & Figures issue titled “Privatization and the Water Crisis”:

“Water is too important a resource for private corporations with narrow interests to take control of. It is part of national patrimony and must never be wantonly exploited for private gains. Access to and use of water must at all times be guaranteed by the state with due bias for the poor, especially during times of limited water supply. People cannot afford to wait for another major bout with El Nino before they begin a major reversal of the flawed and anti-people neoliberal water privatization.”

#MalalangEkonomiya
#MayMagagawa
#PeopleEconomics
#BeyondElections2019

Amid power interruptions because of combined forced power outages due to maintainance and various power plants’ system problems, we share the introduction of the December 2014 IBON Facts & Figures issue titled “Alternative to Power Privatization”:

“When the Philippine government privatized the electric power sector in 2001, it promised cheaper and sustainable supply of energy due to the competition induced by the entry of other players. Years upon years after the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) was passed, the country is still burdened by the most expensive and still unstable electricity in Asia. Despite this, the government maintains that privatization is working.

“In many countries in Europe and Latin America, there is a growing trend of bringing back public ownership and management of power and other energy utilities because of the failure of privatization and globalization policies. Other countries have taken steps away from privatization despite the continued push of neoliberal institutions for more privatization projects.”

#MalalangEkonomiya
#MayMagagawa
#PeopleEconomics
#BeyondElections2019

X Infopost 2018 0525 Chachaprogressba

The latest call for changes in the Philippine Constitution or Charter is the latest among the many attempts, in more than a decade since the 1990s,  seeking to remove the Charter’s nationalist and other progressive economic provisions.

Widepsread protests and outright resistance from various sectors however deterred legislators from pursuing the changes. Those who are opposed to the changes fear removing such provisions will undermine Philippine economic sovereignty and obliterate to foreign plunder whatever remaining resources the country has to develop towards achieving national industrialization. On the other hand, proponents of Charter change (Chacha) insist removing such provisions will increase the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) and promote national development.

The Philippines has long ago opened up strategic sectors to foreign ownership and control including public utilities and infrastructure. But the economy has yet to develop while millions of Filipinos are still poor and hungry. The country has even lagged behind its Asian neighbors where policies on trade and investment are far more restrictive than the Philippines.

Would amending the Charter bring the promised national development? Or would it simply surrender the country’s sovereignty to foreign domination? – From CHARTER CHANGE, Renewed Blow to Sovereignty, IBON Facts & Figures Special Release, 30 September 2012

The exploitative practice of labor contracting is a continuing legacy of the country’s feudal and colonial history. It dates back from the cabo system – a labor arrangement that proliferated during Spanish colonialism. Cabos acted as labor negotiators and suppliers to companies and project or contract-based (pakyao) jobs. The system was commonly practiced in small-time construction companies, maritime companies that hired stevedores, and in haciendas that hired seasonal plantation workers.

In the 1850s, sacadas (poor peasants from other provinces) were contracted to work in sugar plantations in Negros through this system. Employed by hacienderos, cabos encouraged sacadas to migrate to the sugarland of Negros and work in plantations on a seasonal basis. Later, the subcontracting practice proliferated in modern export crop plantations especially in banana and pineapple plantations operating in Mindanao.

During US colonialism, the US colonial government implemented a system in labor relations, which was anchored on fake trade unionism and discouraged the cabo system. At that time, only unionized workers were eligible for employment. With the introduction of trade unionism and the prohibition of labor-only contracting by the US colonial government, the cabos were compelled to utilize unionism as a facade. Cabos established their own unions even without employers to bargain with and penetrated existing unions to retain their power. The cabos became the first batch of notorious labor leaders who, instead of upholding workers’ rights to better wages and employment conditions, functioned as labor suppliers.

Although the country was granted nominal independence in 1946, the American colonizers ensured that treatises were in place to maintain the neocolonial relations between the Philippines and the US. This enabled the US to exercise the same political and economic influence and control in the country.

The Martial Law Labor Code

Former President Ferdinand Marcos used martial rule’s dictatorial powers to orient the Philippine economy to serve the demands of foreign corporations for cheap labor, cheap resources, and captive markets. To improve the investment climate and give foreign capital profitable opportunities in the country, the Marcos dictatorship enacted laws aimed at depressing workers’ wages through labor flexibilization.

In 1974Articles 5 and 106 to 109 of the Book on Conditions of Employment of the Labor Code gave the DOLE Secretary the power to issue regulations and guidelines  as to how companies can carry out labor contracting.

Institutionalization in the construction industry

Two years after the issuance of PD 442, contractualization was institutionalized in the construction industry when former DOLE Secretary Blas Ople issued Policy Instructions No. 20-76 which provided the definition and rights of project and non-project construction employees allegedly to stabilize employment relations in the industry.

Project employment is a form of contractualization; the contract is based on a specific task or project with a clear duration. Although project employees are directly hired by employers, there is an absence of an employee-employer relationship between the project employee and the principal employer throughout the duration of the contractual employment. Thus, the anti-labor characteristics of project employment also denies workers not only of their right to security of tenure but also of their right to unionize and negotiate for better wages and benefits with principal employers.

In 1993, former Labor Secretary Nieves Confesor issued DO 19, which provided the guidelines governing the employment of workers in the construction industry. DO 19 affirmed the legality of contracting and subcontracting in the construction industry by providing the conditions of employment and the liabilities of employers and contracted workers.

Institutionalization across all economic sectors

Contractualization was institutionalized across all economic sectors in 1997 during the administration of President Fidel Ramos when former Labor Secretary Leonardo Quisumbing issued DO 10, which amended the rules implementing Books III and VI of the Labor Code. The amendment prohibited labor-only contracting but affirmed the practice of ‘permissible’ contracting and other flexible employment arrangements and recognized the legitimacy of trilateral employment relations ‘for the purpose of increasing efficiency and streamlining operations is essential for every business to grow in an atmosphere of free competition.’

After the issuance of this order, contractual work arrangements have become rampant across all economic sectors in the country. The debilitating impact of the proliferation of contractualization was immediately felt and consequently stirred massive protests throughout the country. The strong clamor to repeal contractualization compelled the Arroyo administration to temporarily revoke DO 10 through the issuance of DO 3 by former Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas in 2001. After one year, however, the anti-labor and market-biased order was essentially restored through the issuance of DO 18-02 by the same Labor Secretary.

In 2011 during the administration of Benigno Aquino III, then Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz added more requirements to existing guidelines on contracutalization through the issuance of DO 18-A. Included is the imposition of a minimum capitalization requirement of at least Php3,000,000 pesos.

The latest order, DO 174, amending the guidelines on contractualization was signed on March 16, 2017 by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The continued implementation of contractualization in businesses is at the heart of the Philippine government’s adherence to neoliberalism, the package of principles that promote market fundamentalism expressed in policies of liberalization, privatization, deregulation, fiscal prudence, among others. To illustrate, it is in compliance with the policy recommendation of The Arangkada Philippines Project (TAPP), a project launched in 2010 by the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce (JFC). It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development USAID) to, among others, continue the policy of labor flexibilization.

At present, contractualization continues to proliferate in various forms of market-oriented and flexible hiring schemes.- From Contractualization Prevails, IBON Facts & Figures, July 2017.

Sources:
Kapunan, Rodrigo P. “Labor-Only Contractors: New Generation of “CABOs”. Philipine Law Journal Vol. 65 No. 5 Mar-Jun 1991. (Mar-Jun 1991): p.326. Web. 16 Apr. 2017
Joint Foreign Chamber Of Commerce. “Arangkada Philippines 2010: A Business Perspective”. Arangkada Philippines. 2010. Web. 14 Nov 2016. <http://www.investphilippines.info/arangkada/executive-summary/>

The demand of progressive workers’ federations for the re-installation of a national minimum wage and pegged at Php750, along with the abolition of the regional wage boards, is an immediate, important and doable step towards making economic growth genuinely inclusive and addressing worsening inequality in the country. Based on IBON estimates, raising the average daily basic pay from the nationwide average of some Php367.35 to the proposed Php750 national minimum wage transfers just Php448 billion to workers’ pockets – this is only 27.4% decrease in profits, which still leaves employers with a significant 72.6% (Php1.18 trillion) of their clean profits. On the other hand, each worker will be able to take home, on average, an additional Php8,364.00 per month.

The amount of profits transferred to workers’ wages was computed based on data from the latest (2014) Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI) of the PSA. The census shows that 35,009 establishments with employment of over 20 or over had Php1.63 trillion in total profits and 4.13 million employees.

The country’s largest corporations and wealthiest families are the most able to absorb the wage hike. In fact, the total cost of proposed Php750 national minimum is only equivalent to 20% of the total net worth of the 10 richest Filipinos.

Meanwhile, the government can ensure special support for small producers of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to help them cope with the proposed national minimum wage. This includes immediately providing cheap and easy credit, giving research, development and marketing support, nurturing locally integrated supply chains, and improving their scientific and technological capabilities. (Excerpt from Continuing Wage Depression, IBON Facts & Figures, April 2017.)

“Contractualization has violated workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain for higher wages, economic benefits, social security, better terms of employment, and better work conditions. It has also forced workers into accepting unfair labor practices and violations of their political rights.

This points to the urgency of real measures by the government to not merely regulate contractualization but end the practice in all its forms. This is one among many reforms needed alongside a strategic plan for national industrialization, which is crucial in creating stable jobs for the Filipino people.”- Excerpt from “Contractualization Prevails”, IBON Facts & Figures, April 2017

cover gupitin contract

The Philippine Congress pushed anew efforts towards amending the 1987 Philippine Constitution… This call for changes in the Charter is the latest among many attempts, seeking to remove the Charter’s nationalist and other progressive economic provisions.

Widespread protests and outright resistance from various sectors however deterred legislators from pursuing the changes. Those who are opposed to the changes fear removing such provisions will undermine Philippine economic sovereignty and obliterate to foreign plunder whatever remaining resources the country has to develop towards achieving national industrialization. On the other hand, proponents of Charter Change (Chacha) insist removing such provisions will increase the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) and promote national development.

The Philippines has long ago opened up strategic sectors to foreign ownership and control including public utilities and infrastructure. But the economy has yet to develop while millions of Filipinos are still poor and hungry. The country has even lagged behind its Asian neighbors whose policies on trade and investment are far more restrictive than the Philippines’.

Would amending the Charter bring promised national development? Or would it simply surrender the country’s sovereignty to foreign domination? – From Charter Change: Renewed blow to sovereignty. IBON Facts and Figures Special Release. 30 September 2012.

The proposed “Road to Rio” is not a departure from the general framework of the same greedy system that has pushed the planet to the precipice of destruction. It still looks at nature, people and their products as capital that must be used in the most efficient manner for profit accumulation and capitalist expansion. It has more dangerous twists and turns than before, however, as the commodification of nature becomes quite prominent by relying on getting prices right, eco-tax reforms, greening markets, and infrastructure investments. Private appropriation thus extends to nature, which eventually leads to resource grabs and privatization of the commons.

The proponents of green economy have diluted the whole progressive concept of sustainable development. First they emphasize that green economy does not replace sustainable development, which implicitly shows that indeed the concept of green economy is separate and not framed within sustainable development. Then they argue that achieving sustainability rests almost entirely on getting the economy right, but this was already the conclusion of Agenda 21 that obviously was not implemented right.

Then, they propose to green the economy, aim for growth and decouple growth from waste. But decoupling growth from increasing consumption of energy and resources by innovation of technology that raises efficiency is problematic for two obvious reasons: one, it continues to aim for growth rather than social welfare and people’s needs, and two, it ignores the current consumption pattern as a subset of the current growth pattern. The goal of growth thus will eventually only require more resources, more sinks, more waste. Growth is achievable but the green economy will not address the environmental and social objectives of sustainable development…

The road to Rio must be one that is dominated by the direct producers and grassroots sectors. The calls for the rejection of commodification and commercialization of nature, carbon trading, market-based solutions, TNC technology and biotechnology, and resource grabs should reverberate as the overarching framework to deal with the food crisis, prioritizing small-scale agriculture based on biodiversity and ecology and putting an end to the entire wasteful and unsustainable chain of corporate agriculture; promoting a consumption and lifestyle pattern that covers the basic food and water needs for everyone’s well-being; and supporting research for community conservation and management.

The aspiration for sustainable development brings humanity to basic reflections on society and economy. Both are embedded in the environment, and social and economic well-being is predicated on a healthy environment. The purpose of the economy should be to fulfill human needs and to advance human well-being and development. As such, human activity should be within ecological limits and economic production should be the correct application of human knowledge and technology that preserve ecological integrity and health – an application that takes in consideration cultural diversity as well. Without reflection on these basic principles, the Earth may still survive its worst catastrophe, but humanity will not. (Rio+20 and the Green Economy: More business than usual? – IBON Facts & Figures Special Release, April 15 & 30, 2012)

As International Workers’ Day approaches, many Filipino workers still endure poor quality jobs that lack benefits, are low-paying, insecure and under unfavorable working conditions. Those workers who attempt to assert their labor rights face repressive measures such as losing their jobs, violent strike dispersals, and other rights violations.

The Duterte administration’s pursuit and implementation of neoliberal policies, like the two-tiered wage system, compressed work week, and the executive order that does not end contractualization, have worsened the situation of workers.

Thus, Filipino workers and other marginalized sectors continue to fight for real measures that will not only end contractualization but advance a strategic plan for national industrialization. This is crucial in creating stable jobs for the Filipino people, and pushing genuine economic development. #LaborDay2018 #Facts&Figures2017

Government should play a central role in the telecoms industry through nationalization and reversal of privatization, deregulation, and liberalization of the sector. Basic principles may include but are not limited to ensuring telecoms services with affordable rates for the working people, including free Internet, and that serves the needs of national economic development; promoting public ownership and control through state corporations of telecoms service providers while maximizing private investments and know-how through joint ventures when necessary but under effective state regulation; and promoting the full and effective participation of consumers in planning and management of telecommunications services such as in the setting of rates and other matters related to service provision.– IBON Facts and Figures/ Dec 2017/ IBON Bookshop #BetterDigitalWorld

 

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