Op-Ed: We Must Crack Down on Companies Exploiting the Pandemic to Cheat Workers

By Lorena Gonzalez and Ruth Silver Taube

Lurking in the shadows in any crisis are the unscrupulous characters looking to take advantage of those struggling the most. We’ve been warned of the scammers pretending to be contact tracers to commit identity theft. We saw giant corporations ripping off taxpayer-funded relief intended to prevent small businesses from going bankrupt.

Likewise, unscrupulous companies that cheated their workers out of wages before the pandemic are exploiting the weakness in our worker protections by shutting down and reopening under a new name in order to avoid paying the wages they owe.

Since March, it’s been low-wage workers, workers of color, and immigrant workers who’ve borne the brunt of layoffs; they’re also the workers most likely to be victimized by wage theft as companies shut down without paying them back wages they’re owed.

These companies hope that their theft will go unnoticed among the thousands of legitimate, Covid-related business closures and new business filings as California recovers. Ensuring exploited workers are not left further behind as California recovers is why it’s so important that Gov. Gavin Newsom sign AB 3075.

Workers like Tess are counting on us.

She worked long hours in a care home for the elderly and people with disabilities. When Tess and her co-workers insisted they be paid overtime, the owner turned management of the home over to an administrator who sought to avoid overtime by putting a three hour gap in the middle of an eight-hour shift.

While responsibility for the home changed on paper, day-to-day management didn’t and neither did the needs to care for Tess’ patients. The same owner called the shots and forced Tess and her colleagues to work through their three-hour “breaks.”

Tess joined the Pillipino Association of Workers and Immigrants and is fighting to recover the wages she’s earned.

In industries with many low-road employers like care homes, employers commit
wage theft with impunity precisely because they know how rarely workers like Tess
are successful in collecting back wages- and that was before Covid-19.

Just 17 percent of workers who’ve gone through the difficult process to secure a court
judgment ordering their employers to pay back wages ever see even a dime of what they’re owed—precisely because companies can simply close up shop and open under a new name. California workers lose an estimated $2 billion from their paychecks to theft from their own employers each year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

AB 3075 begins to remedy this by requiring anyone who wishes to incorporate
to sign a statement indicating that they don’t have any outstanding wage judgments.

The vast majority of California companies are doing right by their workers during this pandemic. Many small business owners are even dipping into their own savings or retirement funds to make payroll, to buy safety equipment to keep workers safe, or to keep the doors open so workers can put in the hours they need to feed their families.

But businesses who closed up shop in the pandemic and sent workers home without their last paychecks should ensure those workers are made whole when they reopen. AB 3075 would make California’s recovery is fair to the companies that did the right thing—and the workers who’ve been paying the most difficult price in recent months.

Lorena Gonzalez represents the 80th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes parts of San Diego and the South Bay. Ruth Silver Taube is the workers’ rights supervising attorney at the Alexander Community Law Center, an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, and coordinator of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to comments@metronews.com.

The End of Liberal Democracy in the Philippines

By Ethan Chua on August 29, 2020

On July 3 2020, despite waves of popular resistance and incisive legal critique, President Rodrigo Duterte passed an Anti-Terrorism law that would give the executive government sweeping powers to imprison and repress political activists under the guise of combating terrorism. These powers include the ability of the executive branch to authorize what amount to warrantless arrests, the arbitrary detention of those suspected of aiding or inciting terrorism for up to 24 days, and the complete supersession of judicial checks on presidential authority. Understandably, many Filipinos are concerned that the law’s passage will usher in a new era of repression, akin to martial law under the Marcos dictatorship. Yet unlike the Marcos dictatorship, Duterte’s right wing populism stems from decades of liberal democracy that failed to address the economic needs of the Filipino people. 

The proponents of Philippine liberal democracy, from President Corazon “Cory” Aquino to her son Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, essentially promised the Filipino people that poverty and economic inequality could be quelled through anti-corruption measures and liberal political reform. However, liberal reforms only ended up entrenching the institutional power of political dynasties without meaningfully improving the lives of the most oppressed, providing the stage for Duterte’s rise to power on a populist, anti-elite platform. The Anti-Terrorism Bill, now codified into law, is the resurgence of right wing populism, sprouting from the carcass of the EDSA Revolution’s co-optation by the liberal elite.

In 1986, the People Power Revolution (also known as the EDSA revolution) led to the ousting of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the presidency of Corazon “Cory” Aquino. As the wife of assassinated senator and Marcos-opponent Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Cory’s rise was hailed worldwide as the triumph of democracy against Marcos’ dictatorial regime. She symbolized a newfound Filipino commitment to the ideals of liberal democracy, which were enshrined as principles in the 1987 Constitution. Yet despite Cory’s widespread support, she was never able to unify the various political forces who challenged or who stood against the Marcos regime. Instead, her presidency is best understood as a tug-of-war between a wide range of coalitions who sought to influence the new spokesperson of the Filipino people. 

Roughly, these coalitions can be divided up into the radical (primarily national democratic) left, who wanted to extend the promise of liberal democracy into genuine agrarian reform and economic justice; the more centrist upper-middle classes, which consisted of Church officials, and business leaders who despite welcoming an end to Marcos-era repression, only paid lip service to the ideals of free elections and speech; and right-wing military groups such as the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, whose aspirations for a strong repressive state in the mold of Marcos led them to launch a series of failed coups against the Aquinos. In the end, Cory’s own strong ties to landholding interests (her family’s landholdings included the over 6,000 hectare sugar plantation Hacienda Luisita), coupled with internal strife within the Philippine left, led her government on a path of socially conservative, economically neoliberal policy making coupled with a public commitment to liberal democratic norms.

The national democratic left, who broke decisively with Cory after she oversaw the killing of 21 peasants protesting for land reform on Mendiola Bridge in January 1987, remained the most vocal critics of her new liberal order. They rightfully saw that Cory’s commitment to democratic principles and constitutional freedoms meant nothing if those principles were not coupled with economic justice and genuine agrarian reform. Yet the left’s own political legitimacy had been weakened after they failed to participate in the broad coalition that helmed the People Power Revolution. As such, their critique of Cory went unheeded by the government. Despite reforming the Constitution to place greater checks on presidential power, she simultaneously continued the neoliberal economic agenda of Marcos’ regime. 

Cory’s now infamous refusal to repudiate the national debt upon her rise to power, alongside her continued pursuit of foreign investment and loans from the IMF and the World Bank, caused the Philippines to be further incorporated into the neoliberal world system. The primary consequence of this rising debt was a state-sponsored surge in overseas Filipino workers, who today can be seen throughout the globe doing precarious labor as seafarers, nurses, and domestic workers. This turn to overseas employment for Filipinos was first encouraged by the Marcos government, which sought to service the national debt with the remittances workers sent home. Despite rejecting Marcos’ dictatorial regime, Cory essentially continued his policies of labor export. Under Cory, the Philippine state brokered contracts with foreign states to have Filipino workers fill labor demand; meanwhile, at home, her government began recasting overseas Filipino workers as national heroes, pushing more and more Filipinos to consider work abroad as a preferable alternative to a lack of domestic opportunities. Today, around one million Filipinos leave the country each year to work abroad.

Cory’s popular global and national appeal arose from her reputation as an icon of emergent democracy. Describing her presidential campaign against Marcos before the United States Congress in 1986, she presented herself as a self-conscious champion of a people who longed for the restoration of democratic norms: “Wherever I went in the campaign, slum area or impoverished village, they came to me with one cry, democracy. Not food, although they clearly needed it but democracy. Not work, although they surely wanted it but democracy.” However, despite her lip service to democratic practice, Cory continued the brutal military repression of activists who challenged the fragile consensus between center and right that she had brokered, with extrajudicial killings rising under her regime.

Filipinos who were born in the early to late ‘90s live in a post-Cory era where the subsequent presidents combined economic liberalization, a rhetorical commitment to anti-corruption measures and political reform, and the military repression of dissent under the broad banner of “liberal democracy.” Under Cory’s successor Fidel Ramos, the police and military apparatus were given more powers, forcing communist and Muslim separatist revolutionary movements in the southern Philippines to cede ground. Meanwhile, Ramos’ socio-economic Philippines 2000 program, which was designed to hasten industry development, only further increased the hold of foreign capital on the Filipino people. Under Ramos, state and paramilitary forces conducted military operations against local communities to clear the way for foreign mining and other projects of resource extraction. 

By the time the Philippines’ subsequent presidents came into power, the cracks of decades of neoliberal policies began to show. Corruption grew rampant. Foreign capital remained among a clique of landlords, business tycoons, local politician-warlords, who allied with whichever regime was in power. Elections and protests remained regular, but felt more like empty gestures towards an unrealized aspiration for democracy than genuine power to the people. These democratic practices continued to be marred by political violence; in a particularly egregious case in 2009, 57 people were murdered by the militia of Maguindanao mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. for their support of an opposition candidate. During this time, the government also disappeared many activists who went too far in their demands for economic justice. Among the middle and upper classes, political disaffection replaced the democratic enthusiasm of the EDSA revolution.

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s presidency was, in retrospect, the dying breath of a liberal democratic consensus that for the preceding decades had tried to keep the masses pliant. Noynoy became a popular candidate after the death of his mother Cory Aquino because he promised to continue her legacy of democratic reform and ran on a presidential slogan that promised to end poverty by ending corruption. However, Noynoy only oversaw increasing economic inequality. While bankers, real estate developers, and business owners benefited from lower interest rates and a rising GDP, the share of agricultural and manufacturing sectors in the economy stagnated or shrunk. Meanwhile, his ostensible commitment to combating dynastic corruption was belied by his own membership in one of the most prominent political families in the Philippines. Increasingly, it became clear to the Filipino people that Aquino’s version of liberal democracy and economic growth ultimately benefited the elite–from enterprising business owners to entrenched political dynasties.


This environment of political disillusionment set the stage of Rodrigo Duterte’s rise to power as a presidential candidate who rhetorically positioned himself as an outsider—a foul-mouthed, truth-telling strongman from southern Mindanao who would not put up with the pretensions of an imperial elite that ranged from Manila to Washington. His strong stance against criminals and drug dealers provided a popular scapegoat for the socioeconomic ills of the country, deftly situating the blame for poverty not on a lack of economic justice or agrarian reform, but rather on the poor choices of social malcontents. His campaign painted an image of a nation on the brink of disaster, assailed by drug lords and armed communist insurgents, which required a leader who could substitute democratic practice with the violent exercise of political will. Ultimately, Duterte’s election can be understood as the people’s verdict on the failure of the Aquinos to deliver on the promises of their cacique-led liberal democracy.

More than 30 years after the EDSA revolution, we stand in a new era of executive power and political repression. If we fail to recognize that Duterte’s popularity is a result of the past few decades’ inability to create economic justice for ordinary people, we risk making the same mistakes as our predecessors. Liberal democracy, as practiced by the landed elite and dynastic families of our nation, has never worked. Neither will Duterte’s military authoritarian regime, despite its promises of social change through the eradication of drug users and leftist dissenters. As we condemn  Duterte’s dictatorial rule, let us also call for a democracy that challenges the limits of economic liberalism, one that is committed to overturning the economic status quo in favor of the masses. 

In the face of terror, let us continue to dream. Makibaka, huwag matakot.

PAWIS Workers Push For AB 3075 to Hold Employers Accountable for Paying Wage Theft Judgments

-Ruth Silver Taube and Ethan Chua

Wage theft occurs when employers don’t pay workers commensurately for the hours they’ve worked, don’t pay minimum wage, or deny workers overtime pay. In California, employers use wage theft tactics to steal an estimated $2 billion from workers each year, yet only 17% of workers who’ve received court judgments in their favor secure any repayment from employers who have underpaid them.[1] A primary reason for this low figure is that businesses can avoid wage theft judgments by closing down and reopening under a new name, leaving business owners with the capital they’ve stolen while workers themselves are left in the dust. The spate of lay-offs occurring due to COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem, with many laid off workers still owed back pay by their employers. In addition, workers who are most vulnerable to exploitation such as low-wage workers, workers of color, and immigrant and undocumented workers are those who suffer most from unpaid wage theft claims.

PAWIS, as a member of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition, has been fighting hard for the passage of AB 3075, a bill which would close the loophole of employers shirking wage theft judgments by reopening their businesses under new names or transferring them to family members, friends, or managers. AB 3075 would extend liability for unpaid wage theft judgments to an individual or business entity that 1) uses substantially the same facilities or substantially the same workforce to offer substantially the same services as the predecessor employer; 2) has the same owners or managers; 3) employs as a managing agent any person who directly controlled the wages, hours, or working conditions of the workforce of the predecessor employer; or 4) is a family member of an owner, partner, manager, or director of the predecessor employer.

PAWIS has played a significant role in advocating for AB 3075. PAWIS member Tess Brillante participated in over 30 lobby visits and eloquently described how her former employer, who committed wage theft, transferred ownership of his company to a care home administrator in order to evade liability. Her former employer required workers to take a three hour “break” while they continued caring for patients without compensation. During these lobby visits, Tess’s testimony clearly moved legislators, one of whom even interrupted her to express his displeasure with her employer. Tess also spoke passionately about the urgency of the bill on behalf of all care home workers, who are risking their lives during COVID to receive the pay they are owed. During the Assembly Banking Committee and Senate Labor and Employment Committee hearings, PAWIS members Tess Brillante, Lilybeth Torogi, and Felwina Mondina expressed their support for the bill.  By the time the bill was heard in the Banking Committee, there was no opposition, and the bill passed with 4 members in favor and 1 member abstaining. Several senators commented that it was a “great bill.” The bill is headed for the Senate floor, then back to the Assembly for a vote on the amended bill, and finally to the Governor for signature. When the Governor signs it into law, it will be a powerful victory for all workers who are victims of wage theft.


[1] https://wagetheftcoalition.org/2020/05/20/ab-3075-gonzalez/

Our Writers

Ruth Silver Taube

Supervising Attorney of the Workers' Rights Clinic at the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center at Santa Clara University School of Law and the Legal Advice Line of the OLSE Fair Workplace Collaborative; Special Counsel to Legal Aid at Work; and an Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. She collaborates with the PAWIS to conduct legal clinics and training. She is Legal Services Chair of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, a member of the South Bay Coalition’s Executive Board, a delegate to the Santa Clara County’s Human Trafficking Commission, Coordinator of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition, and a founding member of the Bay Area Equal Pay Collaborative.

Ethan Chua (He/They)

Undergraduate at Stanford studying anthropology and creative writing, and a member of the Malaya Movement.

Kapehan sa PAWIS: Conversations on the Issues and Concerns of Caregivers

On August 16, PAWIS successfully hosted the online webinar, “Conversations on the Issues and Concerns of Caregivers”. The webinar started with the usual workers rights update in the midst of the pandemic. The webinar then proceeded to talk about the struggles faced by caregivers here in the United States by talking about existing lack of regulations in the caregiving industry, how the current pandemic is worsening the conditions of caregivers, and how the feudal culture from the Philippines contributes to the exploitation of caregivers.

U.S. protests echo opposition to Duterte in PH

From Inquirer.net
Original Article: https://usa.inquirer.net/57313/u-s-protests-echo-opposition-to-duterte-in-ph
Article written by

SAN FRANCISCO — Passage of the Anti-Terror Law, rising COVID cases, and the harassment of activists and government critics have drawn a strong response from Filipinos at home and abroad, many of whom have taken to take to the streets to denounce what they see as continuous attacks on democracy.

Members and allies of the Filipino community gathered in front of the San Francisco Philippine Consulate on Monday to counter President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Similar protests were held in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, DC and some cities in Canada.

The United People’s SONA was organized by Bayan USA and Malaya Movement along with other Bay Area based groups and featured a special performance by rapper Ruby Ibarra.

The rally came a day after President Duterte delivered his SONA, which was preceded by a ban on protests during his speech in certain areas around Metro Manila, multiple arrests of protesters, activists, and the confiscation of protest materials.

“He [Duterte] fills it with lies, about how he’s solving poverty, how he’s really taking care of migrant workers, addressing COVID. And this People’s State of the Nation Address is to show that, that’s not true,” said Adrian Bonifacio of Anakbayan USA and Bayan USA of President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address.

Anti Terror Law

A key target of the protests was the newly enacted Anti-Terror Law, with signs, banners and chants declaring “activism is not terrorism.”

“I know that if I don’t say anything it’s not using my platform. Because I have the privilege as a Filipino American to actually speak out, whereas our kababayans back home don’t have that liberty and freedom anymore,” declared by rapper and activist Ruby Ibarra.

Mindanao Martial Law

While Duterte claimed that there were no reports of abuse throughout the duration of martial law in Mindanao. The human rights group Karapatan Alliance thousands of instances of civil rights violations within the two-year military rule in the region.

In a 2017 press conference, President Duterte threatened to destroy Lumad schools in Mindanao stating, “I will use the armed forces, the Philippine Air Force. I’ll really have those bombed because you are operating illegally, and you are teaching the children to rebel against government.”

Frankie Ortanez from Liyang Network, an organization that advocates for Lumad communities, said that Lumad schools have been tagged as breeding grounds for the New People’s Army, which they emphasize is false.

“It’s about autonomy, it’s about sovereignty, it’s about them deciding what their future is going to look like and getting to be the caretakers of their land and live how they want,” stated Ortanez. Ortanez described the closure of Lumad schools as “a violent way to attack multiple generations at once.”

Pandemic

Protesters also slammed the Duterte administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. One sign read, “Solusyong medikal, hindi militar,” (Medical solutions, not military) a protest against Duterte’s orders for law enforcement to shoot quarantine violators.

“From what I’ve heard from relatives and friends in the Philippines, continuously across the board, is that there is no concrete plan in terms of figuring out how to address the pandemic” said rapper Ibarra, who is also a working scientist. “The administration in the Philippines, (must) put a plan in place to make sure that people are taken care of during this pandemic.”

The Philippines currently has the second highest rate of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia, with 85,486 total cases according to the Department of Health website at the time of writing.

Dissent nears boiling point in Duterte’s SONA 2020

From Rappler.com
Original Article: https://rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/dissent-nears-boiling-point-duterte-sona-2020
Article written by Lian Buan and Rambo Talabong

UP Diliman swelled with people even before the scheduled 10 am start of the unified State of the Nation Address (SONA) rally on Monday, July 27.

Tama na, sobra na! (Enough is enough),” printed in huge red letters on a massive white tarpaulin, greeted everyone entering University Avenue just before the program started.

It read like the everyday rally sign of the Left, except that it belonged to the Kilusang Bente Dos, which claimed to be centrist.

“We are neither Left nor Yellow, yun na nga ang gusto naming sabihin eh. Ito ‘yung sentimyento ng mas nakararaming mamamayan ng ating lipunan, ang pagpapaalis kay Duterte hindi kailangang meron kang kulay,” said Rizalito David, infamous for his failed candidacies in 2013 and 2016, now a convenor of a group named after the February 22, 1986 People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

(We are neither Left nor Yellow, that’s what we want to say, that this is the sentiment of the majority, the call for Duterte to resign does not need a political color.)

 

The group, formed just months earlier, held up mini posters of what for them were boiling point incidents in the presidency – the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) scandal that jailed already-freed inmates, and the P1.4-trillion infrastructure spending bill that the group thinks stinks of corruption.

 

“Siya ‘yung puno’t dulo ng kahirapan na nadarama natin ngayon (Duterte is the source of all our hardships),” David said.

At the opposite end, in front of the Oblation, young people from the progressive group Anakbayan held up a poster of Duterte and stamped him a terrorist. It was an odd sight because beside them were Churchmen in cassocks led by La Sallian Brother Armin Luistro, who was allied with the other faction – the liberals.

Luistro stood there unassumingly, as if he did not take on a leadership role in bringing together a frustratingly elusive united opposition that gathered around 1,800 people, according to police estimates. Protesters, however, estimated they numbered at least 8,000.

The unified resistance

The coronavirus pandemic may have limited rally logistics – it’s the first grand protest ever to be held ahead of the President’s speech – but it’s also what turned on the heat on already simmering discontent.

“Sa tindi ng problemang hinaharap ng ating bansa, mahalaga ang pagkakaisa, mahalagang isantabi natin ang ating kanya-kanyang pagkakaiba,” said Liberal Party Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan  in his taped video message to the protest on Monday. (The problems the country is facing today are so bad that it’s important to unite and set aside our differences.)

 

For Pangilinan, the last time this happened was 20 years ago during the EDSA Dos Revolution in 2000 that overthrew the presidency of Joseph Estrada.

Pangilinan’s view of unity is reminiscent of his impassioned appeal during the 2019 midterm elections, when tensions rose between the liberals and Left, and bickering punctuated a landslide loss for all of them.

But it appears, at least for now, that this is behind them.

Prominent Left figure, Renato Reyes of Bayan, even credited Pangilinan for planning the unified protest called the #SONAgkaisa.

“It was initiated by, the inviting personalities were Senator Kiko Pangilinan, Sister Mary John Mananzan, and Brother Armin Luistro was the one who facilitated, Bishop (Broderick) Pabillo was also there, that was before he got sick, and we decided to hold a common activity for SONA,” Reyes told Rappler on the sidelines of the rally Monday morning.

That they are showing a united front is historic achievement in itself, and signals what appears to be a less fractured opposition to lead the growing resistance movement. 

Resign or oust?

In the famed Hong Kong democracy protests, a focal point of the resistance is a categorical call for leader Carrie Lam to resign. 

The Left turned that up a notch higher: a call to oust Duterte.

 

The last speaker of the program was Bahaghari’s Rey Salinas, among the arrested Pride 20, who unfurled a rainbow-colored “Oust Duterte” sign on stage, left fist in the air, shouting: “Duterte, patalsikin!” (Oust Duterte)

An ouster call, however, is a very touchy point in this fragile alliance.

Former Bayan Muna representative and longtime activist Teddy Casiño said that the Left and the liberals almost had a lasting coalition in July 2018 during Duterte’s 4th SONA – until a few months later that year when the supposed Red October plot to oust Duterte reopened the crevices. 

Vice President Leni Robredo, the LP, and its allied groups, had to go on record to say they do not want to oust Duterte.

Chel Diokno, who ran as senator in 2019 under LP, and among the lead organizers, said he “understands why people are making that call.”

“Every person has the right to express themselves, sa tingin ko lang marami nang hindi satisfied sa mga nangyayari, at hindi na rin satisfied sa pag-manage ng COVID, so I really understand why people are making that call,” he told Rappler.

(Every person has the right to express themselves, and for me there are many people not satisfied with what’s happening, and not satisfied with how COVID is being managed, so I really understand why people are making that call.)

 

For, Neri Colmenares, the Left’s candidate in the 2019 senatorial elections, whether the call is to resign, to oust, or otherwise, a common message clearly emerged.

“The consensus here is President Duterte is the worst leader we could ever have in times of crisis. He has no competence to lead a nation in times of crisis, especially in a pandemic like COVID,” said Colmenares.

'They agitated, outraged the people'

Political analyst Ela Atienza, chair of the UP Department of Political Science, said that foremost, the expansion of the opposition coalition was born out of the frustration of people over the government’s coronavirus response. 

It tapped a critical strand of the population: the middle class.

“Because of the pandemic, a lot of middle class was affected by the pandemic and the government’s response. Some of them had difficulty with their businesses and jobs, and many are turning to social media for their frustrations,” Atienza said.

For Colmenares, the passage of the feared anti-terror law paved the political crossroad for Duterte. The pull to unite the broad-based coalition strengthened, Casiño added, during deliberations for the passage of the controversial legislation.

“They realized that it will hit ordinary people. They realized that even though the law was meant to target Leftists, it still needed to be opposed. Because if the law can hit the Left, it can hit everyone,” Casiño said.

 

In the Supreme Court, the unified voice is further amplified by the 19 petitions so far coming from all sides, including a former soldier, Magdalo’s Ashley Acedillo, who joined the Antonio Carpio-UP Law case.

Then the ABS-CBN shutdown happened.

Government pulled the plug on the biggest television network, and with it, the regular entertainment and news source for millions of Filipinos.

Journalists and media workers, raised in a culture that upholds neutrality to a fault, were suddenly thrust to the frontline of resistance.

Veteran journalist Ces Drilon took to the stage Monday, and spoke at a rally for the first time ever in her more than 3-decade decorated career.

“Narito po ako ngayon dahil lubha na pong nakababahala ang kalagayan ng ating lipunan (I am here because the state of our society is already very disturbing),” Drilon began her speech, before pausing to say how much it makes her nervous.

Drilon, among the first to be let go by ABS-CBN in its mass retrenchment, said it was crucial that she spoke.

“What really compelled me was – all these arguments I see on social media from trolls, and maybe legitimate followers, that ABS-CBN closure is not equal to press freedom, and I really want to say my piece why it’s connected,” Drilon told Rappler after.

Malacañang: Duterte’s feelings hurt by frontliners’ plea to media

From Rappler.com
Original Article: https://rappler.com/nation/malacanang-duterte-feelings-hurt-frontliners-plea-media
Article written by Sofia Tomacruz

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday, August 3, that President Rodrigo Duterte’s outrage against medical frontliners stemmed from their public call through media to review the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press briefing held a day after Duterte taunted health workers to stage a revolution, Roque said the President would have preferred if they sent a letter to him first. 

According to Roque, “Ang hindi lang po nakakaalam ng liham ay si Presidente mismo.” (The President was the last to know about the medical community’s letter.)

’Linaw naman ang sabi ng Presidente, hindi naman kinakailangan na makaron ng splash, kumbaga. Sana binigyan siya ng pagkataon na sagutin ’yung liham bago sila nagkaroon ng publicity dahil ang naoobserbahan natin, talagang nauna pa ang webinar bago pa do’n sa pagtanggap ng liham ng Presidente,” Roque told reporters. 

(What the President said was clear, they didn’t need to create a splash. They should have given him a chance to address their concerns before they created publicity, because from what we’ve observed, their webinar was called before the President received their letter.) 

On Saturday, August 1, some 80 medical societies called on the government for a two-week timeout as they warned that the country’s health system was overwhelmed by a recent surge in cases, and that the country was losing its battle against the pandemic.

 

In sounding a distress signal, the medical community urged the government to collaborate with experts among them to refine current pandemic strategies. 

But Duterte took it the wrong way and claimed that “rampaging” doctors were crying out for a “revolution.” 

““Huwag kayo magsigaw-sigaw, ‘revolution.’ Magsabi kayo revolution, then ngayon na. Try it. Patayin natin lahat ng may COVID-19. Is that what you want? We can always end our existence in this manner,” ranted Duterte. 

“We are not incompetent because we are not doctors. You should do the soul-searching, not us. Kayo, makatulong sana. Wala kayong ginagawa kung ’di magreklamo (You could be helping but all you do is complain),” he added. 

Medical societies pointed out how the President misunderstood their call, saying they only urged the government to review its response and to collaborate with experts among them to improve the country’s pandemic response.

“The call was for the DOH (Department of Health) and IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) to provide HCWs (healthcare workers) a fighting chance in the war against COVID and prevent unnecessary fatalities – NOTHING more,” said Dr Mario Panaligan, president of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) earlier on Monday.

In a “letter of clarification” to Duterte, Panaligan also pointed out that the PCP wrote the DOH regarding health workers’ concerns in April, but that neither the DOH nor the IATF replied to their requests.

 

“We bear no ill will and have acted without malice towards the implementers of the law and the bayanihan as one goal, but our empty cries had to be made known somehow,” Panaligan added. (READ: Staging revolt? Medical workers tell Duterte: Our enemy is COVID-19)

Last straw?

Asked where Duterte got the idea of “revolution,” seeing that medical workers never mentioned this in their appeal, Roque said it may have been a product of ill timing since it came at the end of a series of criticisms raised against Duterte’s handing of the pandemic. 

Lumabas ito ay sunod-sunod kasi na pagtawag ni Senator [Franklin] Drilon na failure ang IATF, sinusugan po yan ni VP Leni Robredo, kasabay po ’yan kumakalat na revolution song,” Roque said, referring to a viral music video of artists singing a Les Miserable song in Filipino. (READ: Duterte puts spotlight on Drilon in SONA 2020)

So ang Presidente po, sabi niya, kung talagang mga nanggugulo ’yung mga nais magsamantala sa pandemic na gusto siyang palitan through a revolution, sige na po, gawin na natin ngayon. Inuulit ko lang naman po ang salita ni Presidente,” he added. 

(This came after Senator Franklin Drilon repeatedly called the IATF a failure, which Vice President Leni Robredo echoed, and that revolution song was spreading. So the President said if people who want to exploit the pandemic are making a fuss and want to change him through a revolution, go ahead and do it. I’m just repeating the President’s words.) 

Despite this, Roque sought to deflect public attention from Duterte’s reaction, claiming that while the President made such comments, he still approved some of the recommendations made by medical workers. 

Roque urged the public to set aside the “issue” as the President was only expressing his feelings. 

Walang isyu naman po ’yun. ’Nilabas lang ng Presidente ang saloobin niya. ’Binigay rin po niya ang hinihingi ng frontliners,” he said. (It’s no longer an issue. The President just expressed what he was feeling. He gave the frontliners what they asked for.) – Rappler.com 

PH health workers infected with coronavirus reach 5,008

From Rappler.com
Original Article: https://rappler.com/nation/coronavirus-cases-philippines-august-3-2020
Article written by Sofia Tomacruz

The number of health workers who tested positive for the coronavirus rose to 5,008, with majority of infections seen among nurses and physicians.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday, August 3, that 4,576 of the 5,008 cases, as of August 1, had recovered, while 38 died due to the disease.

Among the 394 active cases, 258 or 65.7% were considered mild, 133 or 33.7% were asymptomatic. There were also two health workers in severe condition and one in critical condition.

The DOH said the 5,008 medical frontliners infected included the following:

  • Nurse – 1,734
  • Physician – 1,100
  • Nursing Assistant – 338
  • Medical Technologist – 210
  • Radiologic Technologist – 119
  • Radiologic Technologist – 119
  • Midwife – 92
  • Respiratory Therapist – 43
  • Pharmacist – 41
  • Non-medical Admin Staff – 407
  • Utility – 161
  • Dietary Staff – 73
  • Driver – 64
  • Barangay Health Worker – 50
  • Security Guard – 37
  • Caregiver – 15

During the pandemic, health workers who are severely infected with COVID-19 are supposed to receive P100,000 each, while the families of those who died from the coronavirus should get P1 million each. This was included in the Bayanihan law that expired last June 25.

Despite this, the DOH said it would not need to wait for the Bayanihan 2 measure to be passed into law as the Department of Budget and Management’s Special Allotment Release Order that covers the funding requirements for the implementation of the law is valid until December 31, 2020.

The DOH gave assurances compensation for healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 was still ongoing and that claims will be continually processed until the SARO is valid.

The latest toll of health workers infected by the virus comes as the medical sector pleaded with the government to implement a two-week “timeout” to revisit and refine the country’s strategies to curb the pandemic.

Aside from compensation under the Bayanihan law, the DOH said all health workers will also receive benefits including free life insurance, P10,000 in hazard pay, routine testing, as well as free transport and accommodations to and from their workplaces.

As of Monday, the Philippines reported a total of 106,330 coronavirus cases, including 2,104 deaths and 65,821 recoveries. – Rappler.com