Friday, January 28, 2005

NR0128: GMA's premature glee

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release January 28, 2005


GMA's glee over P55:$1 exchange premature; mining companies to destroy
environment, dislocate thousands - Rep. Beltran


Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo's jubilation over the supposed appreciation of the peso
versus the dollar was premature.

"The exchange value is a whopping P55.15:$1 and the president's gleeful?! It
seems like only yesterday when the exchange rate P40:$1, but the Arroyo
administration has not been able to keep it to that level. In the meantime,
costs of living have gone up while the purchasing power of the peso continues
to go down. Pres. Arroyo shouldn't pat her own back just yet," he said.

Beltran said that Pres. Arroyo's glee over the entry of new investors into the
country translates to copious tears for the Filipino people, and the
destruction of the Philippine environment.

"Pres. Arroyo has put on the auction block millions of hectares of Philippine
land and sea areas, and opened them up for mining. Thousands of Filipinos in
the countryside will be displaced by the corporations, their agriculture-based
livelihood destroyed by open-pit mining. Indigenous peoples will be driven away
from their ancestral lands, their culture also severely attacked. These foreign
corporations that are coming in the rape and plunder the country's resources
will be making millions at the expense of the Filipino people, and
Macapagal-Arroyo administration is gloating?"

The veteran labor leader also said that there was little cause for rejoicing
as it will be clear that employment rates will not be boosted by the entry of
new investors. "The added employment will hardly make a dent in the
double-digit unemployment rates, as investors are keen on maximizing and
exploiting to the hilt the country's slave-standards of wages and benefits for
labor. Also, these investors also utilize contractual employment," he said.

Wage hike to cushion impact of 12% VAT, high prices

In the meantime, Beltran said that the mere announcement of the VAT's
impending passage has already cause prices to go up in some markets.
"Manufacturers have already begun to compute their increased price adjustments
-- adding 12% VAT to the tag prices of their products that are 'VATable'," he
said.

"Social Welfare secretary Diky Soliman's attempts to downgrade the impact of VAT
on consumers and wage-earners are insulting. To her and the rest of the
officials of the administrat ion who support the 12% VAT, a few centavos
added to the prices of basic commodities are nothing; but for minimum wage
earners and the unemployed, a few centavos is a lot and spell the difference
between skipping a meal or not," he said.

The veteran labor leader said that Congress should immediately legislate a P125
across-the-board wage increase for all workers nationwide. "High oil prices
and electricity rates as well as the impact of the VAT can only be cushioned
with the help of a wage increase," he said. #

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