“The Filipino workers and people are fed up and are protesting against the rising prices and intensifying demolitions. The context is rock-bottom wages and chronic unemployment. That is the real state of the nation.” – Kilusang Mayo Uno
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — A simultaneous protest called as the “Protesta ng Bayan laban sa nagtataasang presyo, demolisyon at pribatisasyon” (People’s protest against high prices, demolition and privatization) was held in different parts of Metro Manila on Tuesday, July 16.
The people’s protest held by workers, urban poor groups, workers, drivers, youth-students, women and migrants’ group together with other sectors was held because “ordinary Filipinos are fed up with the rising prices of basic goods and services and the demolition of poor communities.” The protest also serves as build-up activity leading to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s upcoming fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22.
Carrying banners that read “Junk oil deregulation law!”, “No to LRT, MRT fare hike!” the group showed their strong opposition against the continuous increases in prices and rates of basic commodities and services, and utilities. Women’s groups stormed the Department of Health for its continuing plan to privatize government hospitals under the guise of Public-Private Partnership schemes. The youth and students slammed the increase in tuition and other fees in public and private universities and colleges.
“With this protest, the people are showing its collective action against the continuous price and rate increases ,” said Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.
Consumer’s group #StrikeTheHike meanwhile stormed the Pandacan Oil Depot in Manila to protest against oil price hikes. Chevron, Shell and Petron have again raised pump prices starting 6:00 a.m. in the morning on Tuesday, July 16.
Based on the computation of #StrikeTheHike, prices of oil products have already been raised nine times since January 2013 up to the present, reaching an accumulated increase of P5.85 ($.14) per liter of diesel and P5.45 ($.13) per liter of gasoline. The group blamed privatization and deregulation schemes that are still being implemented by the Aquino administration for the unending increases in prices of oil and petroleum products.
“The continuing increases of fuel disprove claims that globalization schemes will make prices cheaper and that it will benefit the majority of our population. Clearly, privatization and price deregulation already exposed itself to be anti-consumers and pro-big and foreign businesses,’ says Mark Louie Aquino, convenor of #StrikeTheHike and secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) NCR.
Meanwhile, Gabriela said the corporatization of public hospitals is in effect privatization since costs of basic services will increase once it pushes through. “The Aquino government is apathetic or does not even care for the plight of the poor,” said Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela.
She added, “Their only solution to the deteriorating public health system is privatization to purportedly ‘modernize’ and improve the series of government hospitals. But how can the poor benefit from the costly services if they have no jobs or have low salaries? Does only the rich deserve to be healthy?”
Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed the plan increase in water utilities. “The profiteering schemes of Maynilad and Manila Water give a textbook illustration of how big capitalists take advantage of their government-sanctioned control or monopoly over essential goods and services. Our protest today is a big ‘NO!’ to their profiteering schemes and proposed rate hikes and to privatization in the water sector,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairman.
KMU condemned Maynilad and Manila Water for passing on their taxes to consumers, and called for the junking of the water firms’ proposed rate hike and for an end to privatization in the water sector.
“The Filipino workers and people are fed up and are protesting against the rising prices and intensifying demolitions. The context is rock-bottom wages and chronic unemployment. That is the real state of the nation,” said Labog.
“While more and more Filipinos are losing their jobs, the bills that need to be paid bloat continuously. This situation is a clear indication of the country’s real situation, despite the Aquino administration’s continued claims of inclusive growth,” Ridon said.
#StrikeTheHike warned of more protests against price hikes and privatization culminating in a protest action during President Aquino’s fourth SONA next week. “These issues of high prices and privatization will surely be one of our major rallying issues on Monday as his government continues to do nothing about it,’ ended Ridon.