March 2010


from http://bukluranngmanggagawangpilipino.blogspot.com/
Yesterday, the 16th day of Goldilocks Strike was a victorious day for the Goldilocks Workers. It was truly a remarkable day for the workers who made a milestone in pursuing their basic right to strike and successfully forged an agreement with the management to break the impasse.

Through the conciliatory efforts of the Department of Labor and Employment, both parties agreed to end the strike on the basis of the following;

1. Effective March 27, the day after the lifting of the strike, status quo for all striking workers should be enforced without any sanctions.
2. For the 94 illegally dismissed striking workers, they are all payroll reinstated upon the lifting of the strike and will take effect until the Court of Appeals has finally ruled on the motion for reconsideration filed by Buklod on the issue of Certification Election and another 60 days time frame for the execution of the said ruling. In the event that the time frame for the implementation of the Certification Election will not be realized, a negotiation for the extension of the time frame would then be decided by both parties. Payroll reinstatement covers not only their salary but also all the benefits due them as regular employee.
3. For the purpose of pursuing a speedy implementation of Certification Election, a special body would be created composed of selective officials from the BLR-DOLE.
4. No retaliatory actions by both parties will be observed.

The Goldilocks strike added a new dimension to the present day struggle of the Filipino workers. For nearly a decade now, the Filipino workers in general were totally devastated as to the ill effects of the onslaught of globalization. Despite the threats and hardships, the Goldilocks workers stood their ground and their courage taught us a lesson that nothing is impossible for as long as you exercise your right on just grounds.

The Goldilocks workers proved that they can withstand the long and tedious strike, fought and frustrate the attempts of the management to break their ranks and lastly, their grim determination to win and openness to all forms of struggle.

We from the BMP (Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino) salute the bravery of the Goldilocks workers. We believe that what they have done will usher a new complexion for the struggle of the Filipino workers.

We also commend the undying support from all our friends, allies and network in the labor front as well as those from various sectors, groups and institutions that one way or another helped us achieve total victory for the Goldilocks workers.

/March 27, 2010
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  1. Not a single workers’ strike recently happened in Goldilocks. Though the legitimate and genuine labor union (BISIG) filed three separate Notices of Strike (Dated 04/24/2008; 07/01/2008; and 10/13/2008), all of these were AJ’d (Assumption of Jurisdiction) by the Labor Secretary effectively averting the supposed strikes to happen.
  2. The activity happening in front of the Goldilocks Plant in Mandaluyong is a picket-protest against the dismissal of 129 officers and members of BISIG.
  3. Contrary to the information that the management and their paid-hacks spread, BISIG won overwhelmingly against BUKLOD (the pro-management union). Here is the breakdown of votes: BISIG – 764; BUKLOD – 653; Spoiled ballots – 38; Challenged votes – 202)
  4. BISIG was already certified as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of Goldilocks employees since March 17, 2008. This led to BISIG’s letter of intent to commence CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) negotiations on April 16, 2008 but the management refused to heed their call.
  5. DOLE reaffirmed BISIG’s position as the legitimate labor union through a Resolution released by Undersecretary Romeo Lagman on July 8, 2008.  The Goldilocks management still refused to start the CBA process even after the release of this document.
  6. The management only agreed to commence CBA negotiations when the NLRC, through a decision written by Commissioner Nieves Vivar-de Castro, reversed all resolutions that legitimize BISIG. This led to having BUKLOD, the losing pro-management union, as the sole bargaining representative of Goldilocks workers.
  7. A far cry from the standard procedure of sending official government documents by registered mail, the said decision was hand carried by an NLRC employee a day after its promulgation.
  8. There is no truth to the rumor being peddled by the Goldilocks management and their paid-hacks that BISIG and their supporters started the violence that erupted last Friday (March 19). How come that all of the 8 casualties (Danilo Gicana, Wilson Dy, Carlito Geda, Roberto Carrabacan, Ronald Macalalad, Cillo Crucillo, Canuto Barba and Adolfo Manaog) are from the BISIG side? The public must be informed that Goldilocks has a deadly track record in the field of industrial relations. In 1979, three workers were killed and six were wounded when the police tried to disperse a legitimate strike.
  9. Amidst the misinformation being done by the management and their paid-hacks, the cause of Goldilocks workers are gradually gaining support from different labor groups, community organizations, professionals, political leaders, students and even bloggers.
  10. You can support the cause of Goldilocks workers by boycotting Goldilocks products until the resolution of this dispute. You can also forward/re-post this article on your own blog/website or social networking profiles. Better yet, visit their picket line (498 Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City) to encourage them and extend moral support.

In a short essay published by Inquirer the other Sunday, Gen. Danilo Lim traced his “journey” from a West Point educated officer to a rebel soldier and a political prisoner. Today I shall match his story with the story of my own journey from amrabid anti-militarist to an avid supporter of Gen. Lim.

My narrative starts from the Manila Hotel where, soon after EDSA 1, the Marcos loyalists gathered to clamor for the enthronement of Arturo Tolentino. Having learned from a very reliable source that some of the RAM boys took part in planning that comic affair, I went around frantically warning of an insidious plot from the politicized soldiery or what I termed the “politicians in uniform.”

Such paranoia was fueled by the liberal doctrine that by the nature of their profession, soldiers are essentially reactionary and authoritarian; they should therefore be kept on leash, banished from politics and placed under firm civilian control. It began to wane when I joined a research project for the UN University on “the politicization of the military and the militarization of politics.” In connection with that project I studied several military coups in other parts of the world. Thus I came across instances when the military played a definitely positive role of overthrowing right-wing dictatorships and setting in motion the process of system change.

To illustrate, let me cite the “carnation revolution” in Portugal. Portuguese fascism was the oldest in Europe, antedating Mussolini, Hitler and Franco. Antonio de Oliviera Salazar founded the first fascist state in 1926. He was ruthless but was more subdued than Hitler and Mussolini. The Salazar regime survived World War II because with the outbreak of the Cold War the United States – the self-appointed champion of the “free world” – coddled it as an ally against communism.

After 42 years in power, the Portuguese tyrant died in 1968; but before going into a coma he was able to arrange a smooth transition to handpicked successors. So well entrenched did the successor regime appear so that the political scientists specializing in the study of Portugal last for a long time. Yet in April 1974 it collapsed all of sudden, like the proverbial colossus with feet of clay.

This event known as the “carnation revolution” caught the Portugal watchers by surprise because, trapped in the conventional paradigm of political science, they were only monitoring the puny resistance of the liberal and social democratic parties. They paid no attention to undercurrents in the armed forces, believing that the military would always be a bastion of fascist rule. As it turned out, it was a military group that crushed the backbone of fascism in Portugal.

The experts were oblivious of the fact that the junior officers, fresh from the African campaigns, had been radicalized by their own experience in the battlefield. They realized that they were duped to fight an unjust war by a government that was also oppressing the Portuguese people themselves. Back in Lisbon, they formed a secret society called Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA) and in April 1974 they launched a coup against the dictatorship.

The MFA junta (known as the Junta for National Salvation) adopted a socialist program and released from colonial rule not only the Portuguese colonies in Africa, but even East Timor, a somnolent territory where there was no pre-existing independence movement. Unfortunately, the progressive military regime lasted only for two years. Unlike Col. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the MFA did not build a mass base for its radical reforms. Moreover, they didn’t know how to govern: they mismanaged the economy and international diplomacy. Their ineptitude created an opening for the deposed elite to instigate and finance a counter-coup in collaboration with the CIA.

With such cases in mind, my monograph on the politics of the military already reflected my growing ambivalence. Coincidentally, I presented the monograph to a UN University seminar in Katmandu on the eve of the 1989 coup in Manila. When this erupted, I could not make up my mind. I had lost enthusiasm for Cory Aquino but neither could I be enthusiastic about the coup. I faulted Cory for restoring the old system of elite rule, an oligarchy masquerading as democratic. But the alternative was not alluring. There was a strong suspicion that the coup aimed to install Ponce Enrile and Salvador Laurel; in other words, another reshuffle of personnel at the top that would leave the system of elite rule intact.

Danny Lim, then a captain of the Scout Rangers, took part in that coup as leader of the Young Officers Union. I did not have the slightest idea of what vision inspired. It was only when he got out of detention that I met him through Haydee Yorac. Our long conversations convinced me that the YOU resembled the MFA of Portugal, that it represented a trend whose political outlook was not too different from mine.

Let me summarize the insights drawn from my studies on the military in the process of social change.
There never was an instance in the history of any country when a repressive regime was brought down through purely civilian action or “people power.” Regime change through extra-constitutiona l means invariably involves a military component. Three possible scenarios can be considered in the Philippine context: (1) the military as a whole turns against the regime, as happened in EDSA 2; (2) part of the military breaks with the chain of command and joins the insurgent citizenry, as in EDSA 1; and (3) the mass movement builds its own army and, through protracted war, beats the government armed forces, as Joma has been dreaming over the last four decades.

At the Katmandu seminar, an Indian scholar reproached me for ignoring the case of India where, he said, national liberation was achieved through non-violence in a purely civilian struggle. In fact, I studied that as well. But my study of the Indian case led me to believe that Gandhi’s satyagraha could not have succeeded were it not for a threat of a violent upheaval. The British conceded to the Mahatma’s demands whenever he went on hunger strike because the alternative to Gandhi was Subhas Chandra Bose, a stern advocate of violent revolution. Were it not for the prospect of Subhas Chandra Bose seizing the leadership of the independence movement, the British might have allowed what Winston Churchill described as a “half-naked fakir” to fast himself to death. Later events confirmed this hypothesis. Once the murder of Gandhi removed his restraining moral authority, the Hindus and Indian Moslems immediately embarked on the worst carnage in history.

It is wrong to view the Philippine military as one solid bloc. All assurances from the office of Col. Brawner that everything is under control cannot conceal the widespread restlessness among the Filipino soldiers today. True, most generals belong to the conventional mold. They peddle the myth of political neutrality. In truth, the Philippine military has always been politically involved . . . on the side of the power elite, against the peasant movements and the militant trade unions. The predecessors of the AFP were the Filipino mercenaries recruited by the Americans to suppress their compatriots.

For circumstances too complex to analyze here, a new trend has emerged in the uniformed services. There is a growing network of thinking soldiers who do not blindly obey orders from above. Unlike Tennyson’s foolish light brigade who meekly marched to the jaws of death, believing that their’s is not to reason why but simply to do or die, the thinking Filipino soldiers ask whether the orders are legitimate and moral, and they always stand for what is true, just and right.**

I will leave it for Gen. Danny Lim to explain how this came about. Just allow me to express a view which he might not like to hear: that his election to the Senate will not in itself make a difference to the future of our country for as long as the system of elite rule prevails. He will be a solitary voice in an elite-dominated and trapo-infested legislature. I have no illusion that he will succeed in passing laws to institutionalize fundamental reforms. But even if such a miracle does happen, the laws he sponsors will be diluted by the President through his/her power to set the implementing rules and his/her control over the release of funds. Ultimately these laws will be perverted by a bureaucracy that is susceptible to elite and American pressures.

Nonetheless, I will vote for Gen. Lim because he represents a force that, in tandem with the militant mass movement, opens up the prospect for a just and progressive society our people deserve. A vote for him is a slap on the faces of the trapos and the crooked generals who keep him in prison. Sa paningin ko, ang kahalagahan ng election ay symbolic lamang at hindi katulad sa sinasabi ng ABS-CBN na ito ang simula ng pagbabago.

*This is a speech delivered by Former UP President Francisco “Dodong” Nemenzo at a symposium sponsored by the Third World Studies Center about a week ago. The title of this piece is also an allusion to an article entitled “A Soldier’s Journey” published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer last month. It was written by Brig. Gen. Danny Lim.