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Workers, youth group commemorate 148th birthday of Andres Bonifacio; vow to continue the struggle

Workers rally in Davao City in the southern Philippines on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 to demand fair wages and other labor benefits.

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 30, 2011) – Filipino workers who are members of various labor unions and peoples’ organizations have gathered Wednesday in Davao City in the southern Philippines to commemorate the 148th birth anniversary of a national hero Andres Bonifacio, who fought for the toiling masses during his time.

The groups, led by Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region, also held a protest rally to press for land, wages, work and rights for the workers.
Romualdo Basilio, KMU-SMR chairman, said: “This is an opportune day to pay tribute and recall the bravery and heroism of Andres Bonifacio in fighting for national independence. The ideals of Bonifacio are still relevant today as fundamental changes in the society are much needed still. If at the time of Bonifacio, national liberation is the ultimate goal, today, it remains a legitimate cause to pursue.”
“Workers at present receive a meager share of their hard labor because a minimum wage is only given notwithstanding that majority of the employers are not implementing it and more so the benefits set by law. Workers’ condition at present is like that of the slavery period. They were not treated humanely. Besides low compensation, workers are deprived of their guaranteed rights such as to form union, to bargain collectively, to strike and to security of tenure,” Basilio added.

He also rebuked the continued meddling of military and military-backed groups in union activities and cited the illegal dismissal of 66 workers of Filipinas Port Services Inc. (Filport).

The 66 workers, now collectively known as “Filport 66,” joined the protest with their families.
Felipe Abordo, one of the members of the Filport 66, said their dismissal stemmed from their filing of regularization case at the National Labor Relations Commission because of the continued refusal of the Filport management to recognize them as part of their regular employees.

A Filipino youth group called Anakbayan also held a similar rally in Davao City. Wearing white t-shirts, red scarf and brandishing improvised bolos in a tribute to Bonifacio, the group called workers to continue the fight for the toiling masses that the Filipino hero pursued.
“We vow to continue the same nationalist aspirations of the revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio whose passion for service to fellowmen advanced the welfare of the toiling masses,” Cherry Orendain, regional spokesperson of Anakbayan, said.

“If Gat Andres lives today we know that he too will condemn  President Aquino’s anti-people policies that result to the bourgeoning rate of unemployment, landlessness, poverty and human rights violation,” she added.
Anakbayan criticized the Aquino government for its continuing subservience to US foreign policies one of which is the Public-Private Partnership and the Conditional Cash Transfer that it said caused more burden than benefit to Filipino people.
“Public-Private Partnership has only allowed services like education, health, transportation and infrastructure to be at the hands of profit-driven companies making it more inaccessible to the majority of the Filipinos. While the Conditional Cash Transfer has been a cause of corruption and is actually a debt to foreign banks that poor Filipinos would still have to pay,” Orendain said.

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