Unreported, underreported

Published April 2, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Tonyo Cruz
Tonyo Cruz

By Tonyo Cruz

 

In the past weeks, several current events have escaped public attention. They’re either unreported or underreported.

Some would say bigger news items buried them, while others say more powerful interests are at play to prevent these issues from coming out in the news.

Let’s start in Luzon with the protest pickets at the Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, Inc. (CCFPI), a member-company of the multinational beverage Coca-Cola FEMSA. The latter is the largest franchise bottler of Coca-Cola products in the world.

140 workers have picketed the Coca-Cola plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna as CCFPI refuses to obey the April 2017 Department of Labor and Employment decision ordering the regularization of 675 contractual employers. CCFPI also laid off 700 workers in February 2018, citing the effects of President Duterte’s TRAIN Law.

According to the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, among the 700 laid-off workers were 24 officers of the workers union.

EILER points out that Coca-Cola FEMSA enjoyed a 15.1% gross profit increase in 2017. Like other beverage makers, Coca-Cola passes on the new sweetened beverage tax under Duterte’s TRAIN to consumers.

The continued labor contractualization in Coca-Cola is a reminder of Duterte’s undelivered campaign promise to end “Endo.” It is an issue that has united the Kilusang Mayo Uno and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines in a common cause.

In Baguio City, the city council unanimously adopted a resolution rejecting the government’s tagging of Baguio activists as terrorists. Several prominent Baguio residents, including a UN special rapporteur, had been tagged by the Duterte government as terrorists in a petition asking a court to designate the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist groups.

The Baguio City Council resolution takes us back to basics. Activists are Filipinos too, and they have the right to speak out on national affairs, and that doing so doesn’t make them terrorists. The resolution further complicates the government’s manufactured case against the CPP-NPA that analysts view as nothing more than a weak justification for yet another expensive and bloody war. (In a related development, dozens of congressmen have signed a House resolution urging President Duterte to resume formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.)

 

Visayas

The Freeman newspaper reports that “Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the drug problem will persist unless the Duterte administration will make a move against China, which he believes is the source of drugs in the Philippines.”

The paper went on to quote the Mayor: “If you ask me, from where I stand, it’s from China. It’s certainly not from America, not from Japan, possibly Taiwan. Even in the laboratories in Manila, they’re all made in China. I wonder what the government will do about this.”

This analysis by Osmeña has not been widely reported, considering its importance in assessing President Duterte’s single-minded national policy obsession.

Osmeña has also recently taken a combative and critical stance against Duterte’s justice secretary.

 

Mindanao

Residents of the country’s only Islamic City returned to Marawi and released a open letter to President Duterte regarding his plans for rebuilding the city.

After hearing about the Duterte regime’s unilateral plan to impose an “Ecozone” as part of rehabilitation, the Ranaw Multisectoral Movement wrote in their letter:

“In the guise of rebuilding our home, in the guise of laying down the foundations of a better, progressive and modern city, the will and vision of those who live far from us who built this city are being imposed upon us. This is an invasion of a different kind. This one threatens to rob our soul.

“Plans have been made without our participation. Plans that neither bear the stamp of our will nor reflect our culture. Plans whose mechanics and implementation are not clear to us. But one thing is clear: the people of Marawi are largely left out. Those who came to present the plan dismissed our comments, recommendations, and protestations as though we knew nothing and have no business getting involved in rebuilding our very own city.”

“We appeal then to you, Mr. President, to grant us, the people of the lake, the rightful heirs to this land, our right to rebuild this city…”

“Mr. President, please put a stop to the proposed ecozone and military camp plans until we have been heard, until our dreams and aspirations, our cultural sensitivities and our faith find expression in the rebuilding of Marawi City, our home.”

Aside from the ecozone project dominated by Manila-based oligarchs, news has recently come out about talks between the Duterte regime and China, so that this unrepentant invader could also insert itself in the rehabilitation of Marawi.

Also in Mindanao, Lumad schools like ALCADEV and TRIFPSS, recently held commencement exercises for their Class of 2018 graduates. A college also bestowed diplomas to Lumads who donned togas after years of undergraduate study.

The Lumad kids and youth who graduated this year have seen lots in the past four years: Two regimes have targeted them and eyed their lands for commercialization.

The Facebook posts by the Lumad schools and their supporters regarding the school graduation rites present an Easter-like message of a new start: The kids and youth are raring to start anew, by giving back to their besieged community in the spirit of service.

These four issues deserve better coverage from our media institutions. We sure hope we get more in-depth coverage in the weeks and months ahead regarding labor contractualization, the terrorist-tagging against activists, the China connection to the drug menace, the Marawi rehabilitation, and the Lumad struggle for self-determination and for their ancestral lands.

 

Follow me on Twitter @tonyocruz and check out my blog tonyocruz.com

 
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