The SONA that workers wish for – Atty JBJ

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Source: DIRECT FROM THE LABOR FRONT By Atty Josephus Jimenez

My countrymen, the state of the nation is both the best and the worst. The economy is in good shape but the people are suffering. The upward trend of economic growth is unprecedented. But this growth is not inclusive. Only the taipans, the moguls and the oligarchs are enjoying the fruits of economic development. The poor have no food, no decent homes, no hope for better days. The business sectors continue to reap the fruits of the positive financial development but the streets are full of beggars. Millions wallow in abject poverty, people are suffering in hunger and are existing in dirty, unhealthy squatter colonies. The large majority of our people have no hopes for a better tomorrow.

As your President, it falls on my own command responsibility to change the course of our future, and to create a meaningful and significant difference in the lives of all Filipinos. I am the President not only of the business sectors and of the landed gentry. I am also the President of the working class, the millions of landless tenants, the subsistence farmers and fishermen, the casual and contractual workers, the 12 million OFWs who are struggling in 200 countries all over the world, and of the beggars, the squatters and all the least among our people, the lost sectors of our nation, and poorest of the very poor.

Therefore, I am directing all my Cabinet members to immediately reorient their respective programs and plans so as to address immediately the problems of unequal distribution of wealth, of political power and of economic and financial resources. Most particularly, I am directing the Department of Agrarian Reform to complete the distribution of all lands to the tenants before the end of the year. There shall be no ifs and buts. I am directing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop issuing permits to new mining ventures and to put a complete halt to the reclassification of forests and public lands into alienable and disposable lands.

I am hereby directing the Department of Labor and Employment, the POEA, and the OWWA to stop completely the collection of placement fees from all Filipino migrant workers leaving the country and to put a halt to the deployment of domestic helpers and all unskilled OFWs who shall be assigned in dirty, difficult, dangerous, deceptive and degrading jobs. All labor attachés who are enjoying their lives in Europe and America should all be assigned in the Middle East. There should be at least 20 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in Saudi Arabia since there are more than one million OFWs in that Kingdom.

The budget of each POLO shall be quadrupled and all local hires shall be granted regular status. There shall be at least one welfare officer for every ten thousand OFWs, whether documented or undocumented. The Filipino Workers Resource Center should be expanded and the budget for its maintenance should be quintupled. All current Labor Attaches in the Middle East should be transferred to Europe, except those who are facing sex-related offenses and other shenanigans. There shall be a chief labor attaché who shall regularly travel from one POLO to another in order to closely monitor their operations.

In the domestic front, I am directing the overhaul of the Kasambahay Law and I am ordering the SSS to stop making it difficult for employers to comply with its provisions, while the review is ongoing. I am ordering all regional wage boards to convene immediately and issue new wage orders within the month of August. I am ordering the Secretary of Labor to inspect all malls and make sure that the sales girls, the merchandizers, and promodizers are not victimized by unscrupulous labor-only contractors. I am ordering a stop to all useless job fairs that are only used by traffickers to smuggle out women and minors to Malaysia, Singapore, and other countries. I want the resignation of all officials who cannot deliver. The country’s growth should benefit the poor. I am the President of all the Filipino people.

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