Bolstered with Blood: Economic Growth in Aquino’s Daang Matuwid

10 December 2015 Philippines gained praises in the Php10 billion APEC meeting that the country hosted for the world’s biggest political leaders and businessmen last November. It was a huge party that showcased the best and the country’s wealth that foreign countries and transnational corporations (TNCs) can partake with gusto, without worrying if there is something left for the Filipinos. President Aquino talked much about how profitable for foreign investors to put their money in the Philippines and dire need of the country to get financial support to address the climate change impact, without mentioning the thousands of families of Yolanda victims still living in tents and wallowing in hunger and poverty.

Lumads call to end the killings and human rights violations in their communities in Mindanao (Tudla Productions)

There is so much growth (read: profit) potential in the Philippines, whether investment, trade and people, the Aquino government asserted.  But, this growth is achieved from the humungous profits of the Philippines’ richest businessmen, themselves the conduit of the big transnational corporations TNCs in their mining, plantations, services, and industrial operations. The economic growth that Aquino’s straight path sustained is one that is exacted from workers’ slave labor, precarious employment, privatization of public utilities and services, destruction of environment, as well as state and corporate land grabbing. It caused the dislocation of urban and rural poor dwellers to pave way for large-scale mining, mono-crop and export- oriented plantations and establishment of economic zones and business centers. It abandoned the people to more “efficient” privately-operated basic services. Aquino’s economic growth is built from the blood of the leaders of indigenous peoples, farmers, trade unionists, environment and political activists who were extra-judicially killed in their resistance  against  a system that only feeds on the insatiable greed of corporations and global capitalism. There is blood all over Aquino’s straight path. In the past six years, human rights group Karapatan documented over 294 victims of extrajudicial killings including 14 massacres across the country. In the trade union and urban poor sectors in particular, CTUHR documented 24 victims of EJKs.  Trade unionists are persecuted, imprisoned or harassed.  There are at least 9 trade unionists and labor advocates who remained in detention while293 have faced trumped up criminal charges. In addition, urban and rural communities are displaced under the pretext of security and safety and counter-insurgency forcing them to move in locations that are far more vulnerable, without means of survival or forced to depend on the charity of good-hearted people. Aquino’s straight path made these neo-liberal attacks on people’s human rights, livelihood and existence not just possible but stronger. It left the poor, poorer and hungrier, so they will be too hungry too resist and too weak and more vulnerable to refuse whatever is given. On the occasion of the International Human Rights day this 2015, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is one with the Filipino people in condemning and struggling against these pervasive human rights violations committed by the Aquino administration. We are one with the people in demanding the change of the system that continue to exploit people and nature in the service of profit. CTUHR joins the workers and the marginalized in demanding an end to the rhetoric of economic growth to bleed the workers and the poor harder while enabling capitalists’ profits to soar higher.

Public sector unions decry continued harassment of their leaders and staff (Bulatlat.com)

We join the workers in their struggle against so-called industrial peace which is anchored on a sell-out of Filipino labor to foreign and big capitalists, and systematic and violent attacks on striking workers, trade unionists, and labor advocates. On 2015, we witnessed the series of brutal dispersals of the picket-line of Tanduay Distillers workers who are justly fighting for regular employment and decent work. We continue to witness how genuine and democratic unions are busted and maligned by state and capital to dissuade genuine unionism and instill fear of independent unions amongst the workers. Calls for justice for the past administration’s victims of EJKs and other HRVs have fallen on deaf ears or have been covered by glowing statistics in Aquino’s term. Murdered trade unionists have yet to receive justice. The National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council resurrected from International Labor Organization (ILO) recommendations in 2010 was not helpful. Instead, tripartite councils only served as venue by the Aquino administration to legitimize anti-labor policies like DO 18-A that allows subcontracting thereby further eroding workers right to decent work. As Aquino’s term in office is about to end in a few months, we reiterate our call for justice to all victims of human rights violations, an end to state terrorism and Oplan Bayanihan. We challenge those vying for government positions in the next election to take a clear and progressive stance to end human rights violations and to hold its perpetrators accountable. We unite with people in different countries in demanding an end to a system that deprives the majority of their rights and enrich the few and powerful. Together with the workers and the people, we vow to continue the fight for human rights and justice.###