Today on May 1st, International Workers Day, BAYAN USA honors the legacy and sacrifices of Filipino workers around the world struggling for the genuine freedom of the Philippines and liberation of working people from imperialist exploitation. From the very first May Day in the Philippines, where the Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas (Democratic Labor Union of the Philippines) mobilized 100,000 in the streets calling “Down with Imperialism,” to the Filipino Manongs who joined forces with Mexican farmworkers to launch the Delano Grape strikes, Filipino workers have always resisted against exploitation and the greed of the wealthy 1% and multinational corporations. The toiling masses have continued this fighting spirit today in the form of strikes, mass mobilibilizations and organizing themselves in the face of heightened state fascism by the U.S.-Duterte Regime.
Workers Abandoned by Both the U.S. and Philippine Governments
Under the global pandemic, the Duterte and Biden administrations have failed to respond to the needs of the working masses. In April, COVID deaths in the Philippines exceeded 17,000, as the country continued to be plagued by a slow roll out of vaccines and inadequate health care services for the general public. “After one year of suffering under the COVID pandemic, the creation of over 800 community-led pantries in the Philippines proves that the people can only depend on their collective strength rather then the heartless U.S.-Duterte regime ravaging barrios with mass intimidation, murder, and arrests,” stated Nikole Cababa, Secretary General of BAYAN USA.
In the U.S., Filipino nurses on the frontlines of this crisis have been hit the hardest, accounting for 31.5 percent of deaths among nurses. There are also hundreds of J-1 workers stranded in the U.S. who continue to be neglected by both the Philippines and U.S. governments and by their employers and recruiters. At least 200,000 seafarers have been repatriated who are facing job insecurity due to the docking of many ships and the chronic lack of jobs at home, and at least 600,000 OFWs have applied for government cash aid, about half of whom were still waiting for a one-time P10,000 aid ($208 USD) as of November 2020. If the Philippines had its own national industries and protected the rights of workers, thousands of Filipinos would not have to be forced to migrate everyday to look for work overseas.
Neoliberal Crisis and No Economic Relief
The massive number of unemployed and underemployed has soared over 12 million people in need of immediate assistance and economic relief. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Duterte regime has made it blatantly clear he has no real plans to provide adequate and meaningful aid for millions of workers and their families. While millions of our kababayan suffer from hunger and disease, Duterte and his corrupt cabinet have only prioritized economic relief for big corporations, foreign investors, and military officials.
The 2021 budget has hollowed out precious public dollars away from health, education, emergency aid, and social services towards “necessary” infrastructure, military, and police. BAYAN USA joins the widespread calls to push for the abolishment of Duterte’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a terror-tagging task force rampant with human rights violations and publicly funded to the tune of P19 billion ($394 million USD). Most of the victims of the NTF-ELCAC’s state-sponsored terror are workers, peasants, and indigenous people on frontlines of opposing Duterte’s neoliberal policies that flood local markets with foreign rice and pork imports, excessive tax breaks to big corporations and foreign investors, and privatization of schools and healthcare.
The People’s Demands: #Ayuda #OustDuterteNow
Faced with neoliberal and fascist policies, the people of the Philippines—especially from among the most marginalized sectors of peasants, indigenous people, workers (both in the formal and informal sector), women, youth, the sick, and elderly—must hold the U.S.-Duterte regime accountable for its crimes. Workers must be provided immediate cash assistance, living wage jobs, equitable access to testing and vaccines, free mass testing, and vaccination programs.
“Duterte is the clearest threat to the Filipino people’s speedy and full recovery from this pandemic. We join the people’s calls for Duterte to resign or be ousted,” Cababa emphasized. “We must remember that it is the unity of the people under the leadership of the working class—not Duterte—who will lead the country on a new path toward genuine liberation, democracy, and a socialist economy that will ensure the right to land, jobs, and health that everyday Filipinos deserve.”
Aid and vaccines, not cha-cha and dictatorship!
Enact P100 Emergency Wage relief. Fight for P10 000 aid for those below the poverty line!
Kalusugan, kabuhayan at karapatan, ipaglaban! (Fight for health, livelihood, and rights!)
Junk ATL! Abolish NTF-ELCAC! Oust Duterte!
Workers of the world unite! Long live international working class solidarity!