Youth Groups: Duterte’s 6-Month Contract Failed to Bring Change

Contractualization, corruption and killings still rampant despite Digong’s statements

Student activists from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao castigated President Rodrigo Duterte given the absence of genuine change six months under his administration.

“While the contracts of contractual workers who started their jobs with the President last July have already ended, contractualization still persists under the President’s administration,” said Rara Ada of Sanlakas Youth – Mindanao.

“It is quite a shame that already, Sec. Bello of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is boasting that ‘endo’ has already been abolished, when in fact, regular employment and benefits are still far from the reach of workers of companies who circumvent rules and laws through the use of agencies,” she said.

Ending contractualization is one of the promises showcased by the Duterte administration. DOLE has since come up with a so-called ‘win-win’ solution, where employees will be considered ‘regular,’ but under the agencies which employ them. “Under this scheme, the hiring company would still be able to relieve a worker from employment after a given period without giving them the benefits they are due,” said Ada. “It is obvious who lost in the win-win solution posed by the Department of Labor and Employment: the workers,” she added.

Ada also blasted Duterte for his ‘two-faced’ stance regarding corruption. “During his campaign, the President has also promised ending corruption in the government. And yet, in under six months, we have seen the release of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, two of the most notorious plunderers in our country’s history,” she stated.

Youth groups also condemned the upsurge of drug-related killings under the administration. “Already, more than 6,200 Filipinos have died under the reign of terror brought about by the administration’s war on drugs,” said Zaira Baniaga of KAISA-UP Diliman. “Instead of an atmosphere of security, the lawless killings of suspected criminals and innocent citizens has left Filipinos in greater fear for their own lives and the security of their families,” Baniaga added.

Baniaga said that the continuation of unlawful killings is a statement that the drug war is failing, not succeeding.

“On top of this, the President’s allies in the Congress are scrambling to pass death penalty and lowering the age for criminal liability, blind to the failure of the law to secure innocents, especially children, from the discriminatory flaws of the justice system and the sociological roots of crime,” she said.

Seemingly positive developments in the realm of education have been criticized by the youth sector as well.

“Until this administration ceases to insitutionalize automatic appropriation for education, accessible and quality education for Filipinos will remain as an illusion,” said Aivan Lloyd Calonia of Sanlakas Youth – Visayas. “Problems and faults exist in all levels of education, from the poor implementation of the K to 12 program, the lack of quality facilities in public schools, the poor wages of teachers, as well as the curricula designed to make cheap overseas workers or contractual workers domestically,” Calonia continued. “While increasing the budget for education alone will not solve all its problems, raising the standard for spending on the sector to the international standard of 6% Gross National Product will be a step in the right direction,” he noted.

Calonia also criticized the proposed embankment project in Tacloban as part of the rehabilitation and development program in Yolanda-affected areas.

“The proposed project will only bar small fishing communities from reaching their source of livelihood, not far from the massive displacement experienced by poverty-stricken communities under the rehab efforts of the previous administration,” he said.

Calonia urged the President to distinguish himself from predecessors by refraining from the neoliberal path of development. “In the six months that have passed, we are only seeing more of the same policies: privatizing public services, catering to business interests and keeping wages low,” he said.

Calonia also warned the public of questionable shortcuts which may be undertaken by the President and his administration in solving perceived problems.

“We cannot afford a repeat of the wasted trust and optimism from the part of previous administration,” he stressed.

“Especially with voices inside and surrounding the administration who threaten to steer its popularity for their own interest,” he stressed.

“While a large number of Filipinos remain optimistic about this administration, being vigilant and critical of the obvious shortcomings from the administration is essential for the People to truly lead the changes they want to see in our society,” he concluded.