Duterte’s SONA speech must disclose the PH’ two ‘State of the Nations’ – labor group

A DAY before the annual State of the Nation Address on Monday, the progressive labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino demanded that President Rodrigo Duterte disclose in his speech the contrasting conditions of the Philippines’ ‘two nations’ instead of using the occasion to report select accomplishments and conceal his sins of omission.

The socialist labor organization explained that the Philippine society is divided into ‘two nations’. On one hand, a nation of rent-seeking property-owners and another, a nation of paupers who are forced to sell their labor-power and have always been at the losing end of state policies.

“Year in, year out the toiling masses have yearned for presidents to institute pro-people policies to lift them from dire poverty. The present abject misery of the poor is enough proof that all past SONAs have failed them and all presidents up to this present regime have neglected them,” BMP President Luke Espiritu said.

“Duterte, just like his predecessors, has only used the SONA to promote himself, preserve the status quo and advance the interests of the economic elite with programs that liberalize the economy, deregulate industries, privatize social services and cheapen labor, leaving the poor grappling with poverty and social injustice,” he added

BMP President Luke Espiritu

Espiritu reasoned that “what Duterte and his economic managers consider as accomplishments are actually dilemmas for the toiling masses. What they call a vibrant economy is actually belt-tightening measures on the part of millions of working class families.”

To prove his point, Espiritu stressed that the recently released 68-page report, which the sitting the administration presented as part of its achievements, two days before the SONA is in fact a collection of the Duterte administration’s disservices to the poor majority.

The BMP noted that in the report which claims that the 14.76 percent, or PhP106.5 billion increase in revenue collection in the past five months, is better than the same period in 2017 is an indication of the success of the government’s tax collection using the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion otherwise known as TRAIN Law.

The group maintains that the amount mentioned in the report was primarily collected from the low-income families as both oligarchs and white collared employees were awarded with tax reductions and exemptions under the six-month old tax regime.

Also cited as accomplishment was the PhP195.7 billion worth of investment approvals from January to April 2018 by the Board of Investments. However, the BMP claims that these investments will not only produce limited job openings but will also raise negligible revenues due to the multiple tax concessions offered by the government to lure multinational companies.

“The report is a perfect picture of how policies differ in impacts between the affluent minority and the destitute majority. Both multinational companies and this authoritarian regime feed off the surplus value created by laborers, fattening themselves with profits and taxes at our expense,” Espiritu said.

“There’s no denying anymore that TRAIN Law triggered the cost of basic commodities to increase sharply and that it gave rise to the 5.2% inflation rate as the latest survey SWS revealed. The survey also showed that 48 percent of the respondents viewed themselves as poor in the second quarter of 2018,” Espiritu asserted.

The militant labor group expects the President’s third SONA speech will be received with loud applause, standing ovations and even the sound of rattling jewelry from the gallery because according to Espiritu, “is an expression of approval from the elite and their accomplices in the bureaucracy.”

“Duterte may receive flying colors and praises from the capitalists, bankers and foreign investors in his third SONA, but he will only earn nothing but the collective rage from the workers,” the labor leader professed.

Meanwhile, Espiritu challenged Duterte to hold his SONA in Baseco Compound or in Parola, Tondo; two of the largest urban poor communities along Manila Bay, if he wants to know if his accomplishments are indeed beneficial to the poor. Duterte should obtain validation of his claims from the victims of his regressive tax policies.

Espritu said BMP-led labor unions shall converge and hold a program at noon Monday along Commonwealth Avenue with allied organizations Sanlakas and Partido Lakas ng Masa before merging with the broader coalition, United Peoples’ SONA.


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