“Working peoples are organizing themselves everywhere in the world because the workers’ task remains: how to change the system in which only a few enjoy the fruits of workers’ blood and sweat.” – Teddy Casiño
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Progressive partylist groups under the Makabayan bloc, such as Anakpawis, Piston, Migrante, Act Teachers, Katribu, Akap-Bata, Kabataan, and Bayan Muna, joined the Labor Day rally yesterday. All saying they have solid following, they decried the government’s responses to their calls for their sectors.
“Aquino treats Filipinos like goods for sale abroad. Filipinos abroad are treated like dirt just like in the Philippines,” said Garry Martinez of Migrante. He said the OFW’s issues are Migrante’s reasons for joining the partylist elections this year.
Fernando Hicap, fisherfolk leader and one of the nominees of Anakpawis Partylist, said they have been trying to respond to common Filipino problems such as landlessness, demolition of urban poor, ultra-low salaries, political repression, unemployment and lack of decent employment. “Anakpawis responded by filing HB 375, for example, the bill seeking to raise wages across-the-board by P125. But since 2001 when Ka Bel first became representative, it has not yet been enacted up to now.”
Rather than give up, Hicap urged the public to raise their just calls all the more. He said the government’s responses have been harassment, vilification and militarization, “so the government can push through with its demolition, land-use conversion, destruction of mountains and seas due to mining.”
Hicap, and many other mass leaders, echoed calls to continue to demand for genuine land reform, nationalist industrialization, “as we have every basis to implement that.” Peoples’ boxing champ also sent a message of support for the struggles of progressive organizations celebrating May 1.
Against what Bayan general-secretary Renato Reyes Jr. decried as the Aquino government’s preparations for massive cheating come midterm elections – given the bungled and far from transparent source code and transmission of electronic votes, among others – the public are urged to vote for their respective progressive party list groups.
Reyes said in Filipino at Liwasang Bonifacio that by now, the conduct of “automated elections is questionable.” He also warned that “the ruling class is doing everything to bar participation of the people and of the progressive partylists.” He cited the recent decision of the Supreme Court allowing the rich and powerful to run in partylist elections.
George San Mateo, chairman of Piston Partylist, said they and Kabataan Partylist exemplify Comelec’s “blatant” ‘harassment’ and efforts of the ruling elite to further edge out the ordinary citizens and marginalized from positions of power.
Among electoral candidates who spoke at the Labor Day program, Makabayan bloc’s senatorial bet Teddy Casiño had the audience hanging at his every word as he briefly detailed what it was like for a ‘karaniwang tao’ candidate like him to slug it out in the senate, against scions and candidates of the rich and powerful.
Hopeful but harboring no illusions
Introducing himself not just as the lone senatorial bet who is a “karaniwang tao” (common man), Casiño also proudly said he is the lone senatorial candidate who came from KMU.
He twitted Aquino’s “daang matwid” (righteous path) as one that is actually headed backwards. He twitted too another Aquino ad about: “Kung walang korap, walang mahirap” (If there were no corrupt politicians, there would be no poor people.) “Since more Filipinos are considered as poor, then there are more corrupt politicians now,” Casiño said.
He echoed the other leaders’ assessment of Labor Day 2013, that “there is nothing to celebrate.” But he clarified that “we’re here because we expect nothing from them.”
Working peoples are organizing themselves everywhere in the world, Casiño said, because the workers’ task remains: how to change the system in which only a few enjoy the fruits of workers’ blood and sweat.
“Workers as a revolutionary class are duty bound to change the system,” Casiño said. To Aquino’s question about whether workers are supporting the president, he asked: “Has the president supported workers? Did he support our calls to change this exploitative system?”
As with progressive partylist candidates, Casiño urged the public to use this upcoming election to advance the workers’ agenda. “Let’s elect candidates who would support workers.”
He admitted that he is running against all odds. “We’re the only one not coming from a big, wealthy political family: we are not famous politicians nor millionaires, nor big businessmen.”
“I spent nine years in Congress but I did not become a millionaire because I don’t steal from public coffers,” Casiño declared. He shared a talk he had had with a traditional politician, whom he quoted as telling him: “You’re an unusual person Teddy. You spent nine years in Congress and you did not become a millionaire. You didn’t get more cars, more houses, more women.”
These seem to be an S.O.P. among traditional politicians, Casiño said, who shared that he responded to this politician by saying that, where he came from, having all that (including mistresses) are prohibited. To which the Labor Day crowd crowed in appreciation.
Casiño said he harbors no illusions even though he is gunning for a seat in the Senate. True, he usually gets appreciative crowd in his sorties; he’s frequently at the top 10 surveys of, say, some newspapers and convenience stores. And, after his Labor Day speech, though he did not know it, the Liwasan’s ambulant vendors asked the organizers of the program if they can have his posters so they could help campaign for him. Yet, his name doesn’t make it to bigger survey firms’ list, and Kontra-Daya and the AESWatch are warning that the elections could so easily be manipulated. It does not help that the Supreme Court, the Comelec, and the Aquino government itself, have been criticized for violating the Fair Elections Act.