By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – As prices of basic products and services continue to increase, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno asked the public to participate in the “Protestang Bayan vs. Nagtataasang Presyo at Demolisyon.” Holding of protests is the only way Filipinos can have the chance of preventing price hikes and demolition of poor communities, Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, said in a statement.
The simultaneous protests are set to condemn Maynilad and Manila Water’s passing on their taxes and expenses to consumers. They are opposing also the rate hike proposed by the water firms. They demand the “junking” of privatization of water services.
Aside from protesting water rate and privatization, the Wednesday protests would also raise the issues of price hikes in petroleum products, rate hikes in electricity, fare hikes in the MRT and LRT, premium hikes in the Social Security System, PhilHealth and Pag-ibig, hikes in tuition and other fees, and hikes in hospitalization expenses as a result of the looming privatization of public hospitals. The next Wednesday protest would be on July 17.
Soluta said everybody who feels frustrated and angry with the soaring prices of basic commodities and services and with the demolition of poor communities are welcome at their protest actions. ‘There are numerous protest centers to be set up where the public can participate,” said Soluta.
Just a week before Aquino’s fourth State of the Nation Address, the Protestang Bayan, is a good opportunity for workers and all Filipinos to present our real situation, Soluta said. This would show, he said, that, in truth, the economy is not growing as far as ordinary Filipinos are concerned, and that the public could not stand more price hikes and demolitions.
The Protestang Bayan will feature pickets in companies and government offices responsible for the soaring prices and demolition in the morning, and in noise barrage protests at various points of Metro Manila and the entire country in the afternoon.
In Metro Manila, the protest centers are to be set up starting 4 p.m. in Muñoz corner Edsa, Isetann Recto, Puregold Sta. Mesa, Batoda, Sanctuarium Araneta, Alabang, Agham Road, Philcoa and Litex.
In other parts of the Philippines, protest actions are also expected in Bicol, Panay and Southern Mindanao while the Pagkakaisa ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide or PISTON said they are set to hold protests in Laguna, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro and Butuan.
Rising prices are observed in basic commodities and services. Soluta said many of which especially the public services and utilities should have been made available at affordable prices. “Instead, big capitalists are jacking up the prices and are profiting from these,” Soluta complained. He is referring to water services, health and transportation.
“Even premium hikes in the SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-ibig will end up in capitalists’ pockets in the form of startup funds under the government’s Public-Private Partnership program. The truth is that the government can improve benefits without increasing members’ premium contributions,” Soluta said.