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[ 10 Jul 2017 | No Comment ]

It’s an appalling prospect but not unexpected, especially since the recent Supreme Court ruling has enabled the virtually unfettered exercise of the President’s martial law power.

It’s becoming more evident that the Marawi crisis was merely the pretext, but the Duterte regime’s plan all along is to place all of Mindanao under permanent martial rule. Pres. Duterte and his allies are keen to implement big infrastructure and agribusiness investments Mindanao, funded mainly by China, that will face opposition from poor farmers, lumad, and Moro who will inevitably face displacement and exclusion. His administration is turning towards more repressive tools, such as martial law, in the hope of suppressing the resistance of the poor and marginalized so that these big ticket projects will push through.

However, the Duterte administration seems to be ignoring the lesson of history, that martial law will not bring peace but only further violence to the people of Mindanao.###

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[ 10 Jul 2017 | No Comment ]
ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro slammed the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Commission on Audit (COA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for issuing a circular that allows government agencies to hire personnel on Contracts of Service (COS) and Job Orders (JOs) instead of ending contractualization in the public sector.
The three agencies issued Joint Circular # 1, entitled ‘Rules and Regulations Governing Contracts of Service and Job Order Workers in the Government,’ dated June 15, 2017.
“It is about time that CSC, COA and DBM release guidelines governing contracts of service and job orders in government after their silence allowed the number of JO and COS workers to balloon to up to 595,162 as of July 2016, making government the biggest user of endo workers. However, instead of ending endo in government, the circular further allows government agencies to hire personnel on COSs and JOs until end of 2018,” Tinio said.
“Along with his campaign promise to end contractualization in the private sector, the prospect of ending contractualization in the public sector is now far-fetched with the guidelines. In the circular, there is no commitment on the part of DBM that it will create new positions that will give COS and JO workers regular positions. Instead, the said circular contains loopholes that will pave the way for government agencies to continue hiring COS and JO workers even for regular functions and duties of the agency,” Castro said.  “This will only lengthen the suffering of workers who are deprived of job security, decent salaries, and benefits.”
One loophole is Provision 7.1 that permits hiring through COS if it is “impractical or more expensive for the government agency to directly undertake the service provided by the individual or institutional contractor” and for “support services” such as “janitorial, security, driving, data encoding, equipment and grounds maintenance and other services that support the day to day operations of the agency.”
Another is Provision 7.2 that allows agencies to hire JOs for “emergency or intermittent work,…and manual tasks such as carpentry, plumbing, painting, electrical, and the like which are not part of the regular functions of the agency.”
“In experience and also because of the lack of sufficient number of items for regular positions, these loopholes are already used as excuse to hire COS and JO personnel for vital and day-to-day functions, such as Department of Social Welfare and Development’s staff implementing the 4Ps, ’emergency instructors’ in state universities and colleges, data encoders in the Philippine Statistics Authority and various divisions in government offices, and cleaning and maintenance staff. Of course, it will always be ‘too expensive’ for the government to create permanent positions for these, and cheaper to just use janitorial, security, and other agency-provided personnel rather than provide for their regular salaries and benefits,” Castro added.
The solons also noted that the joint circular encourages widespread government personnel outsourcing via “institutional contract of service” or contracts between government agencies and contractors or service providers for janitorial, security, consultancy, and other support services.
“Job security and decent wages are the number one cry of the Filipino people. We call on the Duterte administration to fulfill his promise to end contractualization. We urge CSC, COA and DBM to amend the joint circular to ensure that the guidelines will really end endo rather than assure its continued proliferation,” Tinio ended.”###

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[ 8 Jul 2017 | No Comment ]

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro are concerned that salary increases for teachers and other government workers are not included in the proposed 2018 budget. Both solons urged President Duterte to make good his earlier pronouncements by including substantial pay hikes.

“The Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022 is silent as to salary increases for government personnel, majority of whom are teachers and non-teaching staff. Two secretaries, including secretary Diokno who heads the Development Budget Coordination Committee which drafted the 2018 proposed budget, opposed pay hikes in government. This would mean that pay hikes in government are less likely to be found,” Castro said. “Despite this, salary increase for teachers and other government employees is one of the very first things that we will look for and pursue in President Duterte’s SONA and budget proposal.”

“This would be the first budget proposal that the Duterte administration created from scratch. With a P3.8T budget proposal and the Department of Education having the highest allocation, the Duterte administration is more than capable of providing teachers and other rank-and-file personnel significant change in their salaries instead of the loose change that they receive with EO 201 of the previous administration. If he remains true to his earlier pronouncements, that is,” Tinio said. “We reiterate our demand for P25,000 for Teacher 1 and P16,000 as minimum salary in government.”

“We maintain our support for the just and resounding call of teachers, non-teaching employees and other government workers for salary increase and benefits that would help them live decent lives,” Castro added.

Diokno during the 2017 budget deliberation said that substantial salary increases demanded by teachers are “too ambitious” while Briones recently claimed that teachers are “not underpaid.”

On the other hand, President Duterte in a speech last July 28, 2016 said that salary increase for teachers will be next after giving pay hikes for the military and police. “Itong increase of salaries, ang sunod ko mga teachers,” he promised.

“With today’s rising prices of basic goods and services, they need more than what we are giving them now,” Tinio added. The DBM is so quick and agressive in pushing for new taxes yet brands just demand for substantial salary increases as ‘too ambitious’.”

The solons joined protest action today in front of the Department of Education let by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers to demand for salary increase.

“We will continue to support and fight with the teachers and other government workers in their struggle for salary increase. We call on all teachers and government workers to unite and fight for their right for sufficient salaries and benefits in the coming State of the Nation Address of President Duterte,” Castro ended.###

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[ 30 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro saw no genuine change in the first year of Duterte as President as more anti-poor policies are introduced and the nationalist and progressive people’s demands still have not been met.

“We have yet to see the realization of the people’s demands for just peace, salary increase, the end of contractualization, independent foreign policy, and genuine land reform, while neoliberal economic policies, the pork barrel system, the reintroduced death penalty, the impending new taxes and expanded VAT in the anti-poor TRAIN, and other policies are implemented by the Duterte administration,” Tinio said. “State fascism is also on the rise with the so-called Oplan Kapayapaan, aerial bombardments of civilian communities, the declaration of Martial law in Mindanao, and the killings of thousands of Filipinos in the drug war.”

The solons noted that President Duterte’s actions are the opposite of his earlier pronouncements against the military agreements with the US such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and appointed 59 ex-military men to key positions in government, causing the militarization of what should be a civilian bureaucracy.

“The President appointed progressives in his cabinet, but Secretaries Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Raphael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform have yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. This is in contrast to the swift confirmation of many pro-US militarists, neoliberals, and other bureaucrat-capitalists,” Castro said.

“We urge President Duterte to act on his promises for just peace and continue the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) especially now that both panels have already started talking about the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).” Castro added.

“We call on the Filipino people to continue to fight for their rights as we reap the victories of our campaigns for free tuition in state universities and colleges, the free distribution of idle houses of the National Housing Authority to the urban poor led by KADAMAY, and the increase in the Social Security System pension to our collective actions for genuine change,” Tinio ended.

The solons joined the people’s march today from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola demanding for genuine change, decent salaries, job security, the lifting of Martial law in Mindanao, an end to the use of aerial bombings, the defense human rights, and the continuation of the peace talks with the NDFP. ###