Cops arrest labor leaders keeping distance during Labor Day protest

The coronavirus lockdown has pushed millions to stay at home, but Filipino workers staged Labor Day protests on Friday, May 1, while maintaining distance from each other.

Several small protests pushed through without any problems, but two members of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) were arrested by the police Friday for allegedly breaking enhanced quarantine rules.

BMP vice president Lito Rastica and labor leader Renaldo Dulay led a protest with 6 other people in a subdivision in Rodriguez, Rizal. Cops arrested them before noon.

Since it's a holiday, the workers cannot post bail. BMP said that the labor leaders' inquest proceedings will be on Monday, May 3, yet, which means the two will be detained until then. 

In other parts of the country, BMP members and communities held noise barrage outside their homes.

Women in Cavite, meanwhile, took to the streets to protest their dire condition. "Kung kulang noon ang ating pagkain, mas kulang pa ang pakain kasulukuyang nangyayari dulot ng COVID19 na ito. (If our food lacked before, now it's even lacking because of this COVID-19)," a woman said in a video.

Silent protests, noise barrage

Organized by various labor groups, the workers' main call this year revolves around job security and better social protection. 

LABOR DAY. Members of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation and KMU-Pier stage a protest. Photo from Kilusang Mayo Uno Facebook page

LABOR DAY. Members of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation and KMU-Pier stage a protest.

Photo from Kilusang Mayo Uno Facebook page

On early Friday morning, unionists from the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation with the Kilusang Mayo Uno-Pier gathered at the Port of Manila.

Those who joined the protest wore red shirts and face masks, while others donned face shields. All of them brought placards, calling for mass testing, a faster disbursement of cash aid, and hazard pay increase.

Fishermen under the fisheries group PAMALAKAYA Pilipinas, meanwhile, called for immediate government aid to agricultural workers. (READ: Coronavirus lockdown pushes farmers, fisherfolk into deeper poverty)

KMU, BMP, and the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and its member organizations organized separate virtual rallies as part of their call for "deep systemic change" post-lockdown.

More than two million Filipinos have lost their jobs or under a "No Work, No Pay" scheme in 87,301 establishments nationwide, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

But those who have received aid so far is just a small fraction of the reported job displacement. Some 600,000 private and informal sector workers have received the P5,000 cash aid from the government, which is just 26% of the affected workers. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

image