Groups call for food security, livable wages on martial law anniversary

Photo by Arkeen Larisma
Photo by Arkeen Larisma

LIVABLE wages, food security, livelihood, and basic social services are what some members of progressive groups have asked for the government to provide during the commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the declaration of martial law Thursday, September 21, 2023.

The protest rally was led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Central Visayas together with Cebu-based labor unions and youth and students organizations that bannered the call, "Martial Law kaniadto, Terror Law karon!"

The progressive groups marched from Fuente Osmeña Circle to Colon St. via Osmeña Boulevard around 11 a.m. Thursday, September 21.

They also raised concerns on historical distortion, mass unemployment, budget cuts, campus militarization, and other human rights violations in the country.

Jaime Paglinawan, chairman of the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU), said that for this year’s commemoration, they are calling on the government to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), which is the “primary instrument of abuses against progressive leaders,” and not to allocate any confidential or intelligence funds to both the offices of the president and vice president.

Paglinawan said that aside from human rights violations, the economy continues to decline with crises such as low wages and high prices of commodities.

He said there is a need to always remember the horrible and terrible experiences brought by martial law, noting that the country is currently under another Marcos regime.

“Angayan nga kanunay’ng lab-ason ug supakon ang teroristang pamaagi sa gobyerno labi na nga nangayo sila’g dakong pundo aron sa pag-terrorize sa katawhang Pilipino,” Paglinawan said.

He said the P33 wage increase in Central Visayas that will be implemented on October 1, 2023 is too small compared to other regions.

“Gamay ug dugay pa jud gihimo. Sa ubang lugar, mokabat na’g P610 ilang minimum (wage) didto,” he said.

He said their call was not listened to by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, which allowed business owners to file for an exemption.

Nick Abasolo, chairman of Kilusang Magbubukid Cebu Chapter, told SunStar Cebu on Thursday that on behalf of all farmers, they wanted to call on the government to implement the “true implementation of agrarian reform” that would benefit all farmers.

Abasolo said the “true implementation of agrarian reform” involves providing subsidies to local farmers and distributing land to the 75 percent of the total population who are farmers.

He said the implementation of Executive Order 39 last September 5, 2023, which mandated a rice price ceiling of P41 for regular milled rice and P45 for well-milled rice, is just a “band-aid solution” for the ongoing rice crisis.

“Wala sa iyang (Marcos Jr.) pangandoy nga tubagon na ang among dugay na nga panawagan nga tinuod nga reporma agrario,” Abasolo said.

He said the new law on agrarian reform, Republic Act 11593, which was signed on July 7, 2023, and condoned all unpaid amortizations, including interests and surcharges of farmers, has only benefited a few, especially those who were granted land titles.

He said those who did not receive any land title would continue to struggle and fight for what is due to them.

Carmel Angela Mata, vice chairperson of Kabataan Partylist Cebu, said the youth have the means to fight for what is right through education.

Mata said that by understanding the historical events of the past, youth can fight for the truth and combat historical distortion.

She also said that another role of the youth in preserving the memory of martial law is to stay informed about current events and actively participate in driving positive change. (AML)

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