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May Day Call to Action!

May Day Call to Action!

International Workers’ Day or May Day is a global celebration of the working class and the struggles of the proletariat, with its roots reaching back to the fight for an 8-hour work day, led and popularized by a global alliance of communist and labor parties called the Second International. More than a century later and in the midst of a global pandemic, the urgency to build a strong worker-led movement remains. We see how our society depends on the labor of the working class as they run agriculture, food production and distribution, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and other industries essential to society. On the other hand, we also see the utter failure of neoliberalism and the anarchic, privatized mode of production in safeguarding the rights, health and safety not just of workers, but of society in general. 

Filipino workers conditions in the U.S.:

The majority of Filipinos in the U.S. are part of the working class who are now suffering from unemployment, high risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to the lack of equipment and weak healthcare infrastructure, lack of access to basic needs, and state neglect. Decades of forced migration through the labor export policy have produced legions of overseas Filipino workers who are stranded and neglected. Among them are seafarers and J-1 workers in the U.S.

Hundreds of J-1 workers, who are hospitality workers on the J-1 cultural exchange visa, have experienced massive lay-offs and abandonment from their hosts, visa sponsors, recruitment agencies and U.S. and Philippine governments.  Many are unable to return home because of lockdown policies, piling debt, and fear of public health risks. We must expose the J-1 visa program as yet another neoliberal scheme to exploit migrant workers.

Additionally, there are an estimated 400,000 Filipinos working in the maritime industry as seafarers, facing some of the most inhumane treatment and violation of rights before, during, and after disembarkment. Most recently, over 600 workers aboard the Grand Princess Cruise Ship were denied disembarkment, access to testing, and safe quarantine when it docked in Oakland, CA, which resulted in the death of one crewmember on April 1st from COVID-19. Crew members faced abandonment, including 400 workers who were repatriated without proper health treatment or financial support, putting them and their families at risk. Migrante USA and NAFCON supported the workers with their demands for disembarkment, humane treatment, access to testing and health services, safe housing, compensation for lost wages, and covering all costs attendant to repatriating workers to their countries of origin. There is a petition and ongoing efforts to hold Grand Princess Cruises responsible.

There is also a high concentration of Filipino workers and professionals in the healthcare sector in the U.S., many of whom are women. So far, there have been at least 9,000 cases of COVID-19 among health care workers and 27 reported deaths. We must support their organizing efforts for personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard pay and safer working conditions, while connecting to their experience of forced migration due to the three root problems. As of April 18th, there have been 766 healthcare workers with confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 22 reported deaths in the Philippines, amounting to 13 percent of cases in the Philippines. This percentage is much higher than the regional average of 2 to 3 percent. We can draw parallels between the risks and exploitation of health care workers in the homeland, here, and abroad. Duterte’s saying that “It is an honor to die for your country” shows that he has no respect for the lives of healthcare workers and the broad masses, and deserves to be ousted. #OUSTDUTERTE

TAKE ACTION NOW:

  1. PARTICIPATE in Migrante International’s 5,000 signature gathering campaign for May Day, calling on the Philippine government to immediately release financial assistance for all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in need and who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please sign & share widely: Petition for OFWs (English translation here).
  2. JOIN the Global Noise Barrage on May 1 (12pm PST) to protect the rights of Filipino migrants and OFWs during this time of pandemic! Participate by posting pictures and videos (at least 15 seconds) of you banging pots on social media with the hashtags below! Refer to these instructions and tag @MigranteUSA & @MigranteInternational. Check out this sample video by Migrante USA
    1. #NasaanAngTulong
    2. #OFWAssistanceNow
    3. #SolusyongMedikalHindiMilitar
    4. #FreeMassTestingNowPH
  3. May Day Webinars:
    1. Friday, May 1, 1pm PST: Mission to End Modern Slavery (MEMS) Anti-Trafficking Webinar https://www.facebook.com/events/4230039790343367/
    2. Friday, May 1, 5:30pm PST: GABRIELA USA One Billion Rising online action (concept paper here)
    3. Saturday, May 2, 7pm PST: Philippine National Situationer in the Time of COVID19 & Duterte (in Tagalog) by Migrante USA webinar RSVP: tinyurl.com/phcovidnatsit

CALLS:

  • Nationalize public health systems! Resist and condemn neoliberal policies!
  • Solusyon medikal, hindi militar! (Medical solution, not militarization!)
  • OFW assistance now!
  • Workers of the world unite!
  • The workers united will never be defeated!
  • Build the migrant worker movement!
  • Oust Duterte Now!

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Bayan launches #FightCOVID19 campaign to push for 12-point people’s demands during lockdown

Outcry of the people against COVID-19 and the neglectful government

March 19, 2020

The responses of the Duterte government to the COVID-19 pandemic have been gravely lacking and late. While the epidemic was happening in China and neighboring countries, government officials minimized its possible impact on the Philippines. From the earliest part of the spread throughout the world the Philippines should have enacted a travel ban on the countries central to the spread of the sickness like hina. (The first ones to be positive in the Philippines are from China). There should also have been preparations for widespread testing and thorough contact-tracing for the possibility that the sickness would enter our borders. The machinery of public health until community level should have been readied in order to face this health crisis. But this was not done.

On March 18, 2020 only 1,030 tests have been done for COVID-19, much too small a number compared to the projected possible number of those who will be infected within 3 months according to the DOH (Department of Health) itself, which reaches up to 75,000. Currently, there are more than 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines and it is expected to grow in the coming weeks.

The current lockdown which is called by the government as “enhanced community quarantine” on the whole of Luzon is a result of the late and sorely lacking response of the government to the crisis, the possible impect of which could be foreseen from the early part of February 2020. What’s worse, the situation of the most vulnerable who would be affected by the lockdown were not considered, something that was exposed in the first days of the quarantine.

The spread of the COVID-19 sickness must be stopped or significantly slowed especially since there is no cure or vaccine yet for it and there are vulnerable sections of the population that will be hit with grave illness that they can die from. This is what the government should urgently respond to along with wide socio-economic support for all vulnerable sectors affected by the lockdown.

Our demands

The following are our urgent demands in the time of lockdown and facing COVID19:

Medical steps

  1. Allocate sufficient funds for free testing, treatment, and eradication of COVID 19, and fixing health services. Most immediately, use the P13 Billion Contingency Fund, P 16 Billion Disaster Rick Reduction Management Fund, and more than P4.5 Billion Confidential and Intelligence Fund of the President, aside from funds allocated for counter-insurgency, tourism, debt servicing and others. Congress should urgently act on the P1.6B supplemental funding for the eradication of COVID 19.
  1. Implement mass testing that is free, widespread, and systematic. Test everyone who is suspected to have COVID-19 (Persons Under Investigation or PUI and Persons Under Monitoring or PUM) especially in chosen and priority communities (called surveillance or sentinel testing) in order to determine who is sick, and how and where it spreads in order to be make a concrete plan and steps to stop the spread. The symptoms of sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, and especially pneumonia – severe or not – and all those with exposure to confirmed cases should have priority in testing. Related to this, increase the number of testing kits, establish testing centers and laboratories, and assign those with expertise there. Make it a priority of the government to procure and produce testing kits and increase the laboratories that can process the results.
  1. Increase the equipment, supply, and personnel of hospitals. Assign COVID-19-specific hospitals (public and private) in Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, that have sufficient equipment, supply, and trained personnel who will principally receive patients suspected and confirmed to have COVID-19. Increase the number of isolation rooms and ensure that no less than 3,000 ventilators will be provided to hospitals. Give aid to private hospitals if needed. Undertake immediate mass hiring of nurses and other health workers in order to fill the 17,000 vacant positions in public hospitals and the needed 42,000 nurses to support the curent health staffing in communities. Those taking the March 2020 Medical Licensure Examination may be mobilized to augment the current number of doctors.
  1. Establish sanitation facilities and quarantine centers in communities. Establish handwashing facilities, sanitation tents, disinfection facilities, and quarantine centers at all levels – baranggay, town, city, and region – in order to stop the spread of the sickness and respond to the needs of patients. It is not realistic or practical to rely on those living in cramped communities and houses the system of home quarantine. The correct care and monitoring of PUM and PUI is also a problem, they are currently just sent home.
  1. Ensure the support and protection of frontliners. This includes health workers, doctors or nurses, med tech, x-ray technitian, etc. Urgently provide them with adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Ensure that they have transportation to and from work during lockdown. Ensure their working conditions – that they have nutritional food and adequate rest, hazard pay, free and regular testing for COVID-19, and other support. This is appropriate both for those based in hospitals or in triage areas outside of hospitals that will be established in order to filter those who are sick or need to be checked out, and those who will be stationed in community centers in order to undertake specimen collection for targeted testing. Also ensure that the community health workers who will be going around communities to help with public information, education and sanitation drives have adequate gear like mask, alcohol, gloves, etc.
  1. Ensure the system of response to COVID-19 until the community level. Ensure that correct, timely, and understandable information about COVID-19 and how to avoid it is given to the people. Clarify where the closest and first place to go is for those who are suspected to be sick. Prepare a transportation system for them if they need to be brought to the hospital. Give appropriate orientation and skills to Barangay Health Workers (BHW), relief and disasater management presonnel, and volunteers so that they can effectively contribute to responding to COVID-19. Related to this, fix the system of unified and comprehensive health system and general management in facing COVID-19. There should be clear guidelines and support from the national government to LGUs that recognizes their abilities and weaknesses. Use persuasion instead of oppression or fear in order to get the people to implement quarantine protocols.

 

Socio-economic steps

  1. Forbid layoffs and give support to affected workers and semi-workers. Implement mandatory paid leave (separate from regular leave credits) to workers who can’t come to work due to sickness or lockdown. Give support to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) who can’t implement this. Give financial assistance no less than P10,000 to contractual and informal workers who are affected but not qualified for paid leave. Urgently implement the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) order for P5,000 COVID Adjustment Measures Program for private employees who will lose their jobs and P5,000 Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Displaced/Underprivileged Workers (TUPAD) (Livelihood Assistance to Displaced/Underprivileged Workers), including street vendors, tricycle and jeep drivers.
  1. Give emergency relief packs and other support for the poor. Include in relief packs not just food but also face masks, vitamins, medicines, soap, alcohol, and sanitizers like bleach. Make distribution house to house to abide by social distancing. Loosen and expand the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program and use the more than P56.4B available funds for unconditional cash transfer (UCT) to help the poor. Increase the capability and funds of crisis intervention units (CIU) of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) in handling social workers.
  1. Implement a moratorium on bills and penalties. Principally on bills for water, electricity, phone service, rent, debts, and tax, including the suspension of the deadline for income tax return on April 15.
  1. Control the prices and ensure the supply of basic goods and services. Particularly water, electricity, telecommunication, medicine, rice, and other basic food. Ensure the continuous entry into Manila and other urban centers of food from the countryside.
  1. Ensure transportation for those who need it. Other than frontliners and those providing important services, limited but sufficient transport should also be ensured for patients, those buying food and basic goods, and to those stranted and wish to return to their homes. The guidelines on social distancing will be followed here.
  1. Stop the demolition of houses of the poor and shelter the unhoused. Find a way for those who were affected by the lockdown to be able to go home to their respective homes in the provices. Ensure those without homes are sheltered and their needs are taken care of.

 

Mobilize against COVID-19 and the incapable Duterte government

Our demands are primarily directed at the government which has the biggest capability but has failed to respond to COVID-19. Even so, this should be responded to by all and effort should be exerted in different ways and levels, especially by those who are organized.

In relation to this, we as the people should mobilize to push the government to do their duty. Let us also mobilize to the best of our ability to cover any shortcoming that we can. Let us help the frontline personnel and agencies and cooperate with baranggays, hospitals, LGUs, and other agencies to reach our demands. Let us take the initiative to organize volunteer brigades that can undertake information, sanitation, and disinfection drives in the community. Use social media in the effort against COVID-19 and to propagate our demands.

It is also important to expose, demand, and hold responsible those who have been negligent in government, primarily President Rodrigo Duterte. At the same time as working to fight COVID-19, let us launch a widespread protest against the neglect of the government in order to push them to do their duty. Let us demand urgent help for the poor and most vulnerable in the time of lockdown.

Medical service, not military action!

Check-ups, not checkpoints! Socio-economic help now!

Save the people! Remove the virus from Malacañang!

Social Media Response to Duterte’s Attempt to Seek National Emergency Powers

Context:

Today (6PM Pacific, 8PM Central, 9PM Eastern), Philippine President Duterte will call on a special session of the Congress to grant him special national emergency powers that are far-reaching and overkill.  It is an urgent time to expose Duterte’s fascist power-grab and amplify the health-based demands of the people for free mass testing, healthcare, and economic relief. There is no need to abuse emergency powers to meet these demands. 

When does the social media action start?

Today @ 6PM Pacific, 8PM Central, 9PM Eastern

Take Action Today:

  • Use the official hashtags:  #ResignDuterte #NoToEmergencyPowers #OustDuterte 
  • Project our demands:
  1. NO TO THE GRANTING OF EMERGENCY POWERS to the Duterte government.
  2. END MILITARIZATION of Manila and Luzon
  3. GUARANTEE FREE MASS TESTING for all
  4. IMMEDIATE REALLOCATE FUNDING for food assistance, healthcare services, staffing, and equipment for all healthcare facilities in the Philippines
  5. STOP THE ONGOING STATE REPRESSION, DISPLACEMENT, AND EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS of the rural and urban poor, advocates for the poor, and critics of Duterte

FOLDER:  FOR IMAGES TO POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA

      • 1. Adequate budget for free testing, treatment and containment of COVID-19 as well as rehabilitation of health services;
      • 2. Free and systematic mass testing for COVID-19, prioritizing PUIs, PUMs, and those in high infection areas;
      • 3. Additional equipment, supplies and personnel for hospitals’
      • 4. Community-based sanitation and quarantine centers;
      • 5. Support and protection for frontline health personnel;
      • 6. Improved systems to address COVID-19 down to the community level.
      • Socio-economic measures:
      • 7. Prohibit layoffs and provide assisstance to affected workers;
      • 8. Emergency relief packs and other assistance to the poor;
      • 9. Moratorium on payments and penalties for basic utilities and services, including rent and loans;
      • 10. Price controls and adequate supply of basic goods and services;
      • 11. Adequate transportation for those who need it;
      • 12. Prohibit demolition of informal settlers and provide shelter to the homeless

Sources:

 

Duterte’s COVID-19 Lockdown is a Military Crackdown Filipinos Demand Health Solutions, Not Militarization!

 

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (aka Covid-19) has become a pandemic affecting over 193,000 people across the world, and in the Philippines there have been at least 187 cases of infection and 14 deaths.  As of this week, reports show the Philippines has a mortality rate of nearly 9%, higher than China, Italy, Iran, and the world average.  Duterte’s response is to enforce a so-called “community quarantine,” which is in essence a military lockdown. Instead of deploying doctors, nurses, and other health workers to ensure adequate care, Duterte has unleashed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to implement military rule in Metro Manila and the whole of Luzon. This is not the solution to the health crisis enveloping the Philippines. BAYAN USA supports the demands from everyday Filipino people to uphold basic democratic rights and for a sustainable livelihood, quality jobs, healthcare, paid sick days, and social services!

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a doctor-to-patient ratio of 1 doctor per 1,000 people, while the Philippines has a ratio of 1 doctor per 33,000.  According to the Coalition for People’s Right to Health (CPRH), six out of every 10 Filipinos die without being given medical attention. The Philippine government’s more than four decades of neoliberal policies have paved the way for the rising costs and privatization of healthcare, water, education, and housing. These anti-people policies have led to the inadequate response to the most immediate needs of the people for proper affordable healthcare. 

 

In Metro Manila, 41% of families or 8.2 million people consider themselves poor.  Urban poor communities are even more vulnerable to infection without access to nutritious food, clean water, soap, vitamins, stable housing, accurate up-to-date information, and medical care. The calls for self-quarantine and social distancing are out of reach for the majority of the poor living in the most cramped conditions without regular income and decent housing.  For workers, contractualization, or temporary work jobs, have become the norm as they continue to fight for a living wage, job security, paid sick days, and a safe environment. However, these demands fall on deaf ears as “No work, No Pay” schemes are being exploited by employers to cut hours and lay off workers.   

 

“Duterte’s militaristic response looks like martial law under the cover of the quarantine label. He has deployed the AFP and PNP to enforce curfews, unnecessary checkpoints, suspension of travel, and banning of mass gatherings, and has threatened to arrest and detain anyone who resists. We condemn the Duterte regime’s opportunistic employment of martial law tactics at a time when urgent public health concerns must be prioritized. rather than wasting public funds for the suppression of people’s civil liberties and freedom,” said Rhonda Ramiro, Chairperson of BAYAN USA.

 

The P4.5 billion allocated for Duterte’s Intelligence and Confidential Funds must be redirected to provide genuine relief to meet public health needs in the form of guaranteeing free quality healthcare services to support sanitation, prevention, testing, monitoring, and treatment.  Duterte must be held accountable for addressing this health crisis with an immediate health solution, not militarization. The Duterte regime cut the public health budget by Php 16 billion, which could have helped to ensure proper hospitals, quarantine facilities, staff, and life-saving equipment.  

 

As of now in the United States, there have been 3,536 cases confirmed and 58 deaths. While Trump has declared a national emergency, it has only exposed the ruling class as protectorates of the big corporations and big banks.  The $1.5 trillion suddenly lent to big banks this past week and plans to bailout the airline industry is a clear sign that the US government is willing to inject money into the piggy banks of the rich and wealthy making superprofits, while working people are left with loans, panic, and uncertainty.

“The Trump administration is worried about stabilizing big banks, while workers are concerned about how to put food on the table.  This amount of money could have been used to wipe out the student loan debt crisis which is roughly over $1.5 trillion. These funds must be redirected to meet the public’s critical needs, instead of the insatiable greed of the ruling class,”  said Ramiro.  

 

Working families are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, with temporary closures of workplaces, schools, and public spaces.  Service workers in particular face shortened hours, income loss, unemployment, and at-risk workplaces. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are continuously stranded to fend for themselves in foreign lands and seas while being the breadwinners of their families.  In the case of the Grand Princess Cruise Ship, which had 28 passengers and crew infected with COVID-19 on board, over 1,000 workers including more than 500 Filipinos were left stranded on the ship for nearly a week docked at the Port of Oakland without adequate health care, even though passengers were allowed to disembark and avail of medical attention days earlier. Most major cities have enforced social distancing measures, but ultimately the Trump administration and other fascist regimes’ delayed response and privatized care endangers millions.

“While the most immediate concern we face is combatting COVID-19, we must not forget that underlying the pandemic is the most dangerous disease — monopoly capitalism, which is at the root of the current crisis,” said Ramiro.

During this time of crisis, we must strengthen our collective efforts to show solidarity and support, and expose the crumbling US-Duterte regime for its criminal and corrupt reaction to the pandemic.  We must continue to launch public education and service campaigns to meet the needs of vulnerable communities, and assert the people’s basic democratic rights to sustainable livelihood, quality jobs, healthcare, paid sick days, and social services.  Only through achieving national independence and genuine democracy in the Philippines, can we dismantle the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions that keep our healthcare system backwards and underdeveloped. In a socialized economy, public resources would truly reflect the public needs of the vast majority. We stay committed and ever vigilant to arouse, organize, and mobilize the Filipino community alongside our allies to expose this inhumane system and fight for systemic change towards a healthier, scientific, and socialist future. ###

 

Sources: