Tens of thousands of civilian contract workers from poverty-stricken countries — among them Filipino Rey Torres (left) — were hired to support the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. In case of injury or death, they are supposed to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance financed by American taxpayers. But the program has failed to deliver medical care and other benefits.
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Analysts say the Arroyo regime is exploiting a disorganized political opposition and an apathetic (or deceived, if not coerced) public to ram through charter change so Arroyo can remain in power — either as prime minister or House speaker — and possibly protect herself from legal suits in the future. The key to confronting this gambit, they point out, is to transform the people’s discontent and disgust into real political action.
A recent survey finds that the Philippines remains on top of the list of most dangerous countries for workers for several years now. Labor groups say the ILO’s decision to conduct a fact-finding mission here highlights the worsening abuses against labor-rights activists.
Pressured by the military, officials of a high school in Quezon City rejected the enrollment of a student activist. She could only enroll at the school, they told her, if she signed a waiver that would prohibit her from participating in protest actions and rallies. Aghast and angry, the student decided to fight back.
Jakatia Pawa of Zamboanga Sibugay was convicted of killing her employer’s daughter; a Kuwaiti court has upheld the verdict. Migrante International denounces the Arroyo regime for not doing enough to save OFWs on death row in other countries.
The recently signed Salary Standardization Law 3 (SSL3) sets new salary rates for state workers. It’s a welcome respite amid the economic crisis, as well as an initial victory of the campaign for better wages. But government workers say SSL3, apart from giving really small increases, still has numerous anti-worker provisions. It is crying out for improvement.
The sinking of portions of Mankayan town, in which at least five houses were destroyed, occurred despite warning signs. And many residents point to the decades-old mining in the area as the culprit in the disaster.
Triumph, one of the world’s largest underwear makers, has been re-exporting its raw materials from the Philippines to other countries where labor cost is lower. Its workers are understandably worried. Worse, they have reason to believe that the company may end up becoming a runaway shop.
Aside from statistically concealing millions of jobless workers through the use of a flawed methodology, the Arroyo regime makes the deception worse by claiming that the job situation, because of government policies and programs, has improved despite the global crisis.
In forum, CHR officials and journalists from the NUJP bewail the use by the military of OBs. CHR chairperson Leila de Lima says the AFP claimed to have stopped using OBs but replaced these with “watch lists” – and military officials could not explain to her the difference.
Among other provisions, the CARPER bill mandates that private agricultural lands – the type that the Arroyos and the Cojuangcos own – can only be distributed if the original CARP managed to distribute 90 percent of its target. But CARP, despite the two decades it had, only distributed less than half of it. It’s an impossible provision that only underscores what progressive farmers have been saying all along – that CARPER is bogus.