Friday, August 19, 2011

People first before profit

“The points raised by PALEA in its motion for reconsideration are mere rehash of those considered, discussed and ruled upon by the Secretary of Labor…” declared Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa as he endeavored to justify Malacanang’s approval of PAL’s plan to terminate and outsource approximately 2,600 employees.

Ochoa’s pronouncements dashed the hope of thousands of workers who had appealed to Malacanang to end the labor row by way of harmonizing the interests of both the workers and the PAL management. Instead, his statement suggests the government’s insensitivity to the predicament of the workers.

The repetitive points raised by PALEA, which failed to impress Malacanang, only reflect the apprehensions felt by its members in the face of impending job loss. They failed to recognize the fact that the “rehash” merely indicates PALEA’s persistence to appeal for the reversal of the flawed and unfair decision issued by former labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and which Malacanang now sanctions. By calling the spinoff program a management prerogative, the government precariously confers license to contractualization and random termination that could set precedence to other violators of labor laws.

In the midst of this turmoil, the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace expresses solidarity with the members of PALEA, especially the 2,600 workers, who face unemployment. At the same time, we express grave disappointment over the government’s manifest partiality towards PAL, whose recent financial report belies claims of “massive losses”.

We believe that the outsourcing and spinoff program was conceived mainly to dismantle the union and abolish its collective bargaining powers. Such a move by the management is a poor recompense to the very same people who worked hard for nine years to pull PAL out of fiscal insolvency in 1998. We fail to grasp the extent of their thirst for profit especially in the wake of their anticipation to rake in P1.6B in annual revenues.

The government has done a grave disservice to the people. While it has responsibility to recognize the rights of employers to protect their business interest, it has equal responsibility to ensure that they do so within the bounds of labor law. Any action to the contrary already borders on political favors and unjust concessions.

The Church maintains its appeal for a just resolution of this case. Government decisions must be conducted within the prescriptions of labor’s primacy over capital – people first over profit. We continue praying that the government may finally find the wisdom to render pro-people decisions and provide opportunities for the workers and the management to work tirelessly for the common good.

In this we remind President Aquino’s promise to the people: Kayo ang Boss ko!

Friday, August 12, 2011

“Proclaim liberty to the captives… Set free the Oppressed”

A Statement of Concern on the Plight of Political Prisoners in the Country

Nearly three weeks ago, July 25, hundreds of political detainees around the country began a synchronized hunger strike to protest the government’s inadequate agenda on human rights protection and its seeming disregard of the conditions of political prisoners.

Since the early ‘80s, more than 300 political prisoners have been languishing in prison cells throughout the country without explicit assurance of judicial remedy or executive clemency. Some of whom have already died or gotten ill in custody as a direct result of the government’s inability to provide for their medical treatment. The circumstances of neglect and eventual demise of some of these prisoners qualify as violations against human dignity and protection.

The National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace expresses deep concern over the condition of the political detainees, especially those on hunger strike. Three weeks without food will have surely and rapidly deteriorated their conditions. We wish to solicit the immediate action of the government to prevent unnecessary deaths.

We also denounce the underhanded conduct of law enforcement agencies that oftentimes criminalize the legitimate struggle of some groups and individuals.

We call on the judiciary to expedite the process of review of the detainees’ cases and grant the immediate and unconditional release of those whose arrests are deemed to be politically-motivated.

President Aquino abstractedly speaks about improvements in human rights situation in the country. The call for a clear human rights framework by the political detainees is a judicious opportunity for him to demonstrate his sincerity to uphold peace and national reconciliation.

We appeal to the President to grant executive clemency on political detainees who have already served long and completely unjust sentences. May he accede to the humanitarian character of this appeal and make progress towards the full respect of human rights in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, we express solidarity to the struggle of our political prisoners. We wish to assure them that the Church, as it has always done so in the past, will always defend human rights and the sacredness of life as stated in the Gospel.


+ BRODERICK S. PABILLO