BBM vs DU30: policy change better than mudslinging — Labor NGO

January 30, 2024

Like the Filipino workers and people, we find the “drug word war” between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and former President Rodrigo Duterte very amusing.

We are reminded of the phrase “bread and circus,” except that, so far, there has been circus but no bread. The Filipino workers and people still need to find out how the mudslinging spectacle relates to their interests.

Has Marcos Jr uncovered instances of corruption during Duterte’s reign? Or has he, in carrying out his promises, saw the need to push back against the wealth and power of the Duterte dynasty?

Marcos Jr, who wants to rebrand his family name, is given the golden opportunity to do so. He can distance himself from — or, better still, provide an extreme contrast to — Duterte, one of the worst recent presidents concerning labor and human rights.

Whatever the reasons, motives, or subsequent actions, we can all agree that policy changes for the labor and human rights of Filipinos are better than mudslinging between Marcos Jr and Duterte.

Marcos Jr should not just correct the wrongs of Duterte. He should also carry out the pro-worker and pro-people promises that Duterte reneged. Here are some examples:

(1) Implement a significant wage increase. According to independent think-tank IBON Foundation, Duterte gave Filipino workers the lowest wage increase among post-Edsa presidents.

(2) Lower the prices of food and basic commodities. Workers and all Filipinos are suffering from the steep cost of living. The government must work to lower the prices of food and basic commodities by imposing price control and removing the Value Added Tax.

(3) End contractualization. Duterte promised this but failed. He passed the ball to the legislature when he could have issued an Executive Order.

(4) Abolish NTF-ELCAC. The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has equated labor and human rights activism and advocacy with terrorism. Many were red-tagged, arrested, detained, or killed. It must be abolished.

(5) Release detained labor activists and all political prisoners. There are almost 800 political detainees in prison because of trumped-up charges, 27 of which are unionists and labor organizers. The charges must be junked unconditionally, the activists set free.

(6) Attain justice for victims of labor and human rights violations. Thousands have been killed extra-judicially. There has to be justice for them, their friends and families, and the Filipino workers and people.

(7) Create decent jobs, revitalize agriculture and manufacturing. The country remains in an economic rut. The Philippines must learn from other countries that have achieved development, and that means carrying out land reform and industrialization measures.