Through art, Labor hits Duterte attacks on workers, people

A portion of the May 1, 2019 mural (Bulatlat Photo)


MANILA – Labor Day celebrations in the Philippines showcase effigies and murals condemning the Duterte’s policies and attacks on workers.

In the capital, the KMU is rolling out a mammoth effigy of President Duterte juggling high-powered rifles. Heavily armed Duterte is depicted as a court jester with forked tongue. He is shown riding roughshod over the people aboard his killer TRAIN that is accumulating corpses. They used the train literally to condemn the Duterte government’s TRAIN tax reforms. Workers and analysts say it taxes the poor more and the rich less.

The head portion of Duterte effigy produced by Tambisan sa Sining for May 1, 2019 celebrations. (Bulatlat Photo)

In Southern Tagalog, Pamantik (Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan) is dramatizing what they described as workers’ constant exposure to harassment and threats through an effigy of President Duterte who is also riding a killer vehicle. In Pamantik, the vehicle is an armored personnel carrier with CCTV cameras attached. With Duterte are some military and police generals.

A mural depicting Duterte’s US- and China-backed government, faced by the brewing protests and organized resistance of the people, is the stage backdrop for the May 1 program in the capital.

In Laguna, the Pamantik is combining their protest with a fiesta atmosphere. They are featuring “Sining Proletaryado Festival,” a competitive parade of floats and murals from various sectors and unions dramatizing the workers’ struggle inside and outside of their workplaces, the support of the youth and other sectors and the local situation of workers in their respective provinces and cities.

Labor groups are highlighting campaigns for regular work, P750 national minimum wage, and the fight against the dangerous red-tagging and attacks on labor unions. Claire Balabbo, spokesperson of Pamantik, said joint elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police have held anti-union seminars in the region. Other regional groups have reported the same. In Mindanao where a Martial Law is still in place, unionists allied with KMU are being visited in their homes and tagged as enemies of the state. Balabbo feared that the recently-created Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Insurgency will reproduce in other regions the summary executions and harassment happening in Negros, Samar, Bicol and Mindanao.

For KMU and allies, this year’s May 1 celebrations has for theme “Celebrate the 50th year of working-class leadership in the people’s national democratic struggle. Lead the people’s fight against fascism and neoliberal policies of the US-Duterte regime.”

After holding their program near Malacañang till noon, the KMU is set to join workers from Church Labor Conference (CLC), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), and Pagkakaisa ng Uring Manggagawa (PAGGAWA), and other labor groups and LABOR WIN. They hope to establish “labor vote and labor power.” (

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