IN OBSERVANCE of the Lenten season, members of the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa staged today in Mendiola Bridge, near Malacañang, a “people’s version” of the Passion Play depicting the many contemporary “crosses” being carried by the workers and the ordinary Filipinos.
Some protesters dressed as Roman soldiers use papier-mâché spears – representing low wages and scarce benefits, contractualization, union-busting practices, unabated price hikes of basic commodities and services, worsening poverty despite GDP “growths,” inefficient and costly public facilities like the MRT-LRT, elite democracy, patriarchy, war in Mindanao, neoliberal policies, etc. – to symbolically pierce and further hurt an actor playing as “Kristong Manggagawa,” a crucified Christ or a suffering worker.
“The Filipinos continue to suffer today under the Aquino government as Christ endured untold suffering under the tyrannical Roman Empire in the past,” Sentro said.
“President Aquino’s Tuwid na Daan has led nowhere for the working class,” Jun Santos, SENTRO campaign officer said. “After 5 years, all we got is worsening inequality,” he added.
The country’s worsening inequality – which Pope Francis called “glaring and scandalous” – is not just the result of low wages, but of a highly discriminatory form of labor regime that allows companies to put a premium on profits rather than the welfare of its workers.
“One of the worst features of today’s capitalism is the rampant use of precarious work. Contractualization and informalization of labor are the most common forms of precarious work,” Santos said. It didn’t help that President Aquino himself violated his commitment to “promote… constitutionally protected rights of workers,” found in his 21-agenda point agenda for labor and employment, by consistently ignoring calls to certify as urgent labor’s demand for the passage of the security of tenure bill or the SOT bill.
“What we need is a radical form of democracy, one where the rights and welfare of the working people, not profits, is at the center of policy making,” Santos declared.
Christ’s passion on the cross should remind us of our responsibility to participate in a historic struggle, to build a better world, one that we truly deserve. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”