In behalf of the Filipino working class, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
extends its solidarity to the international proletariat under the banner of the World
Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) during these trying times of economic hardships and
dislocations brought by the global attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BMP issues this statement to update our fellow members of the WFTU regarding the
social and labor situation in the Philippines.
1. We are currently on our third week of “Enhanced Community Quarantine”, which
started on March 16. For most workers, other than those at the frontlines, i.e., in hospitals
and in production and distribution of essential goods, along with the banking sector, work
is now generally at a standstill.
The order came in undue haste and without preparation. The Duterte regime has been
warned by various sectors since January to issue a travel ban from countries affected by
COVID19, particularly from China. In February, it was suggested by no less than the health
secretary himself to declare a state of emergency. The Philippine government downplayed
the threat as it did not want to incur strains in its relations with the Chinese government.
In March 16, it suddenly ordered the cessation of public transport, without ensuring the
lost income of daily wage workers, in contrast to its simple suggestion to private
employers to maintain a skeletal workforce for their minimized operations. The order
earned the ire of the public. In response, the government backtracked and assured the
workforce of cash assistance programs from government. As of March 29, only 8,000
workers have been approved as beneficiaries of the said program, out of more than 22
million wage and salaried workers.
There have also been incidents of state violence against alleged violators of the imposed
“social distancing”, along with the curfew that starts at eight in the evening.
Public clamor is for “mass testing”, in line with the “test, test, test” directive by the World
Health Organization (WHO). This outcry was heightened as politicians were reported to
have undergone testing for COVID19 even if they have not exhibited symptoms for the said
Worse, senator and ruling party chair Koko Pimentel, who went on testing (and later
turned out to be positive), broke protocols by accompanying his wife to a private hospital,
and thereby endangering all health workers to possible contamination.
The Chief Executive asked congress for emergency powers to re-align the allocations in the
national budget. It was immediately granted to him. Yet, the billions of promised funds are
still not felt by the grassroots. Food rations are scanty. And worse, the lack of protective
equipment for frontline workers have resulted into the death of more than a dozen
doctors, who are mostly specialists in their respective medical fields.
2. The BMP, despite the challenges brought by the forced lockdown, is organizing the
workers’ and people’s resistance in amplifying the demands for “FREE MASS TESTING”
and “ECONOMIC RELIEF” to the workers and the poor. These initiatives are not limited to
cyberspace and social media. At the community level, we are distributing relief packages to
poverty-stricken households, and have coordinated with various sectors for the safe
transport of medical personnel, affected by the closure of public transport. We emphasize
that competition and selfishness should be left to the propertied exploiters because the
interest of the working class is the embodiment of selflessness, compassion and human
3. We are calling for international solidarity among members of the WFTU. The health and
safety of the working class is the act of the workers themselves, not the bureaucrats who
are cashing in on the billions of funds allocated for economic relief, and not the billionaires
(who despite their much-acclaimed philanthropy) are only donating to the poor to avert
social unrest, save their businesses from ruin and prepare for a rebound after vaccines for
COVID19 have been discovered and marketed to governments and the public.
Now, more than ever, solidarity not distancing would save the working class from peril.
Unity to address the immediate needs and concerns of the billions. Food. Shelter. Medicine.
Healthcare. Education. Living wage. Secure jobs. Rights to union and to strike.
Unemployment insurance. Labor standards. Social welfare and benefits.
Labor must defend all its hard-won victories borne of more than a century of life-anddeath struggles. The economic slowdown brought by COVID19, which soon develop into a
global recession, would justify the reversal to an era where managment prerogative is
absolute and not binded by laws.
More, we need class unity and struggle not only for our temporal demands but to our
ultimate aim for a new, sustainable and egalitarian global order.
This capitalist-led lockdown provides a glimpse of the future. Socialization of production
has led to overproduction of necessities and capital. We could live in a world where labortime could be reduced to a few working days per month, where rent and interest could be
waived, where national budgets could be spent on health care than on military
expenditures, where the most essential workers are those who are in precarious and
unstable work (in retail, health and sanitation, garbage disposal, etc.) not the billionaire
CEOs and COOs of transnational monopolies, where human needs hold primacy over profit
creation, where economic activity maybe reduced in order to stop environmental damage
and global warming without sacrificing the welfare and needs of the toiling and
The COVID19 pandemic will bring all the contradictions of moribund capitalist society to
the fore. It will highlight the helplessness of a global working class who are first to sacrifice
to create and distribute human wants and needs, but in a market-driven society would be
last to benefit when the vaccines to the coronavirus are soon discovered. It is in this state
of powerlessness that we are compelled to the necessity of organizing the international
proletariat as the new ruling class, of establishing proletarian democracy, the rule of the
toiling and impoverished majority, the workers’ state.
Hence, to our WFTU brothers and sisters in class, we again extend solidarity and
revolutionary optimism. May all our national struggles contribute to our global fight for
social justice and social progress – by the workers, for the workers, and of the workers.
Arise from our slumbers! We have a world to win!
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino
National Executive Committee
April 2, 2020