Labor workers ready vs Duterte repression
DAVAO CITY – Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte is in danger of losing the support of workers and labor unions in the country after he threated to kill members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno if they do not stop organizing labor unions.
Speaking on the first day of election campaign, Duterte – the mayor of Davao City – was quoted by the labor organization as saying: “I will establish economic zones. Mag- imbita ako… Dito kayo magtrabaho. Wag kayong magmamadali. Tapos kayong mga KMU, medyo pigilan na muna ninyo ang mga labor unions. Ako na ang nakikiusap sa inyo. Magkasama tayo sa ideolohiya. Wag ninyong gawin iyan. Kasi sisirain mo ang administrasyon ko. Kapag ginawa ninyo iyan, patayin ko kayong lahat. Ang solusyon dito, patayan na. Eh pag- usapan mo, ayaw. Do not do it now, iyung active labor front. Kasi kapag ginawa ninyo, nagsasara. Do not do it. Give the Philippines respect for about 10 years.”
KMU has strongly criticized Duterte and said that “its ranks have and are ready to defend themselves from whatever form of repression Duterte or any other president may unleash on the militant trade union movement.”
Joel Maglunsod, KMU Vice President for Mindanao, said knowing Duterte's penchant for hyperbole, his statement is prone to be construed literally. He chastised Duterte for the off- handed threat as “irresponsible and disrespectful” to the workers, urban poor, and drivers, sectors represented under the labor organization.
“We need to remind Mayor Duterte of the supremacy of the Constitution, as he has repeatedly invoked earlier to defend, particularly Article 13, Sec. 3 - that the State shall afford protection to labor, including the right to organize and freedom of association. That is a right we too will defend vigorously, even to the death,” Maglunsod said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
Maglunsod also questioned why Duterte seemed to toe the capitalist line that vilifies unionism as a stumbling block to national development, saying that this is an extremely disappointing stand following his earlier pronouncement to end labor contractualization.
“May we further remind Mayor Duterte that as far as history goes, even the brutality of Martial Rule under the Marcos dictatorship and subsequent repressions during the regimes thereafter failed to quell KMU,” Maglunsod said.
KMU also cautioned Duterte’s plan of establishing “special economic zones” to boost employment and fuel economic growth. “If he meant a continuation of existing economic zones then these are nothing but exploitative neoliberal projects which will devastate the working class,” Maglunsod said.
He urged Duterte to focus on a genuine agrarian reform program which is a crucial step towards a people- center development, instead of national i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n .