NEDA statement, an insult to struggling Filipino families - Karapatan

Karapatan slammed the recent statement of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) during a press briefing this week, when NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon stated how a Filipino family of five can survive on PhP10,000 a month.

“What NEDA said is an insult to the Filipino people struggling every day to make ends meet, especially with the recent additional tax burdens. The government’s economic managers are blind to the realities on the ground or just trying to peddle lies about the obviously dismal economic situation,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.

IBON Foundation’s research shows that a Filipino family, needs at least PhP973 pesos a day to support a family of five. “Worsening inflation has increased the needed living wage. However, the minimum wage has not kept up with the rising cost of living. Filipinos can’t cope with the soaring prices of basic commodities and services due to TRAIN law as wages of Filipino workers remain low,” Palabay said.

“Meanwhile, the Duterte government continue to turn a blind eye on the situation of the workers in the country. It has done nothing to protect the welfare of the working Filipinos for decent wages and secure jobs, but instead put the best interests of local and foreign businesses as its top priority. The inaction of the government has left the workers susceptible to unsafe working conditions, low wages, denial of benefits and harsh penalties for engaging in union activity including termination of employment, like what happened with the workers of NutriAsia and Hanjin.

Out of about 1,400 employees of NutriAsia, only 100 are regularized and the rest are employed by subcontractors. The workers are underpaid and are exposed to the hazardous working conditions inside the factory. The workers launched a strike against NutriAsia after about 50 workers were terminated for having participated in protests condemning the dismissal of five of their union leaders and members. However, instead of recognizing their right to strike, the Bulacan police acted as private armies of the company, harassing the striking workers.

Hanjin Heavy Industries Corporation Philippines has been ignoring the sufferings of their workers as there were frequent work-related injuries and deaths in their factory. There were 40 fatalities and hundreds of injuries recorded since it began its ship-building operation in 2016. Aside from deaths and injuries, Hanjin was also involved in a number of controversies because of alleged abuses by Korean supervisors on their workers, unfair labor practices, physical harm, and even sexual harassment on women employees. About 30,000 of the 33,000 workers of Hanjin are employed under subcontractors. The continuous practice of labor-subcontracting has spared Hanjin from liabilities and responsibilities for the welfare of their employees.

“The government is seeking for a justification not to increase the wage of the workers. NEDA’s out of touch statement can be used to block any legislated wage increase causing additional burden to the already impoverished and dire condition of Filipino workers. NEDA is supposed to come up with a research reflecting the realities of the majority of the people who are poor, to guide the lawmakers, not as a mouthpiece to peddle lies about the economic situation,” Palabay said.

“The current socio-economic situation of the country is worsening. The poor gets poorer and the state is blatantly neglecting its duty to recognize the people’s right to have a decent standard of living, to be free from hunger and to have security of tenure, humane conditions at work, and a decent living wage. In the neoliberal setting, the poor does not win but are continuously pushed to the edge. Being inutile in serving the legitimate issues and demands of the workers and the people, the government should then expect resistance because they give the poor no choice,” Palabay concluded.  

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580