Photo by Enrico Berdos/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chair Leody de Guzman on Wednesday, July 17, said State of the Nation Address (SONA) protests happen because of unresolved workers’ demands.
“Kung magkakaroon ng isang matinong gobyerno na tutugunin 'yung kahilingan ng masang Pilipino: mababang presyo, tamang sahod, magandang kondisyon sa trabaho, overtime pay ng mga teacher...wala nang rally sa SONA; masaya na tayong lahat,” he said.
(If we would have a sensible government that would address the demands of Filipino masses: low prices, adequate salaries, good working conditions, overtime teachers’ pay… there would be no more SONA rallies; everyone will be happy.)
De Guzman, who ran and lost in the 2019 senatorial elections, said that out of the 35 years that he has been participating in rallies, around “95% of workers’ demands have not been addressed."
He cited issues of political dynasties in multiple districts, traditional politicians, and corrupt government officials as some of the reasons why local and national governments do not serve for the people. Because of these, there is a need for Filipino workers to conduct protest actions to voice out their demands and concerns.
“Ang problema, iyong gobyerno mula kay Marcos, Macapagal [Arroyo] hanggang sa ngayon, ang pinaglilingkuran interes ng mga negosyante,” he said. "Kung ang ating gobyerno maging maka-mamamayan, wala nang rally."
(The problem is that governments, from the terms of [Ferdinand] Marcos, [Gloria] Macapagal-[Arroyo], even the current administration, only serve the interests of capitalists. If our government becomes pro-people, rallies won’t happen.)
The labor rights leader stressed that the decades-long demands from workers, teachers, and the urban poor in every rally and annual SONA protest are “reasonable, even when brought up for debate.”
Various opposition groups are expected to stage their own programs outside the Batasang Pambansa and across the Philippines to counter President Rodrigo Duterte’s SONA on Monday, July 22.
Although this year’s United People's SONA 2019 protest program focuses on opposing Duterte’s stance in the West Philippine Sea, attacks against human rights and unjust economic policies, it also aims to showcase labor groups' long-time demands in the workplace. – Rappler.com
Enrico Berdos is a Rappler intern. He studies journalism at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.