The peasants and workers, hand in hand along the same line, must revolt against all forms of oppression and labor exploitation.
In marking the 131st International Workers’ Day today, the Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB) acknowledges that several millions of farmers and workers continue to suffer from relentless exploitation under a prevailing semi-colonial and semi-feudal system. The particular unequal relations between landlords and tenants, between farmworkers and landlord compradors, have only magnified the existing exploitative social relations that also exists in several farmlands of Leyte, Samar and Biliran islands. Meanwhile, several cases of unfair labor treatment, extremely low wages and the persistence of contractualization remain a reality despite expressed opposition from the workers and farmers under the present administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Particularly in Eastern Visayas, agricultural workers receive only an actual P150.00 to 250.00 pesos a day, or even less, despite the government’s own wage order in the region mandating for a daily minimum wage for non-sugar and sugar workers pegged at P251.00 and P245.00 pesos, respectively. In effect, the anti-worker Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Region VIII only wanted to provide a very meager amount of P10.00 peso wage increment. Compounded with the condition of job insecurity, several farmworkers in towns and haciendas in the region also decry the lack of access to regular workers benefits, basic social services as well as the deprivation of their right to till their own land for those who chose to engage in farm production.
- Newly-approved minimum wage rates in Eastern Visayas (taken from the official page of National Wages and Poverty Commission)
Conversely, the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is important so as to advance the basic social demands of farmers and workers. We will work hard in the grassroots to support the signing this year of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). We believe that by implementing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, the roots of massive poverty in the country will be addressed. A genuine agrarian reform will address the country’s problem of land monopoly in favor of peasants composing more than 70 percent of the population. Meanwhile, by industrializing the economy we mean to break the prevailing export-oriented and import-dependent economy along the line of self-reliance and independence.
However, in Eastern Visayas, we despise the military presence of the United States that intends to further subjugate our own sovereign interests over the country’s own natural resources and people. We reject the conduct of the Balikatan War exercises in Ormoc and Guiuan, both in Eastern Visayas, that apparently shows the government implicit approval to their militarist advances in furtherance of the US imperialist’s neoliberal policies in the local economy which, for a long time, has served only the interests of a few ruling elite in the country and the world.
The Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA – SB) extends its salutation to the working class who continue to arouse, organize and mobilize its rank since over a hundred and thirty-one years ago. In the coming months, we wish to build further our unity with the rest of the exploited classes against all forms of neoliberal policies being imposed by the world’s imperialist powers, and further reinforced through policies under President Rodrigo Duterte who had once claimed that he is a “socialist,” progressive and pro-workers during the beginning of his term.
We pledge to further escalate our resistance and heighten our militancy amid challenges and conditions of oppression where democratic rights are being curtailed by fascist policies. We belong to the 99% who will continue to rally behind the call for genuine reforms along the path of national democracy with a socialist perspective.
Farmers and workers of the world, unite!
(Photos from KMU – Eastern Visayas and Pinoyweekly)