House panel to probe closure of Honda, Nokia

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House committee on labor and employment is expected to conduct a motu proprio investigation into the “unceremonious" closure of Honda Cars Philippines and Nokia and the downsizing of Wells Fargo on Tuesday (March 3).

House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO) House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said the panel, chaired by 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda, reached the decision to look into the issue at the panel’s meeting on Monday.

“It is tentatively set on March 3, though there is no invitation yet,” he told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.

He said the six-man Makabayan bloc in the House has been pushing for a motu proprio probe on the abrupt closure of Honda Cars Philippines, which resulted in the disemployment of 387 workers in its manufacturing plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“It is not only the 387 workers, but also the 1,200 workers from companies which are part of the supply chain who will be affected by the unceremonious closure of Honda,” he told reporters in a press conference.

“We would like to know the reasons why they closed down, what are the major policies that have affected certain businesses, and we would like know if workers get the necessary protection after they lost their job.”

Gaite said they were informed that Honda made an offer to the employees, but it is “measly” considering that some workers have offered 25 years of service to the company.

He branded as “alarming” the numerous closure of the concerned firms, warning that the country is heading into "a Dutertenomic job crisis."

“This is what we have been saying since the beginning of the Duterte administration – market-driven economic policies will not result in the long-term development of the domestic economy, and the creation of sustainable livelihoods.

“The neoliberal Dutertenomics has failed, primarily because it continued the same policies that abandons the development of local agriculture and industry, the foundations of a strong and independent economy,” Gaite said.

“Dutertenomics has failed to shield Filipinos from the effects of the ongoing contraction of the global economy as it continues to follow the neoliberal model that relies heavily on foreign investments to create jobs,” he added.

Gaite said the growth in manufacturing drastically declined from 8.4 percent in 2017, to 4.9 percent in 2018, and to just 3.8 percent in 2019.

"The agriculture sector didn’t fare better as it suffered more than a million job losses. The closure of Honda is a bleak indication that 2020 would not be a better year,” Gaite said.

“The signs are clear, we are heading into a Dutertenomic job crisis. As the global economy contracts, so will our local economy which is extremely dependent on foreign capital.

“Unless we reverse the neoliberal economic policies that have been put in place by past and current administrations, then we would be forever at the mercy of foreign companies who could shut down their businesses when they want without any regard for the lives of the workers that they would leave,” he said.

Gaite lashed at the government for being “helpless” in protecting the jobs of the ordinary Filipinos. “Ultimately, the government must act to protect the jobs of Filipinos by adopting an economic policy aimed at developing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.”