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Workers Picket Congress' Special Session Against Power Bill & Emergency Powers

July 17/2000

STATE Workers led by the Confederation for Unity, Recognition & Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) today picketed the special session at the House of Representatives. The protest, along with representatives from the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), human rights organizations, and the youth sector, is meant to register their opposition to the Omnibus Power Bill that will eventually privatize the National Power Corporation (Napocor).

"As our experience in handling the anti-privatization campaign against the former Metropolitan Waterworks & Sewerage System (MWSS), we will not let up in our struggle to oppose Napocor’s privatization. This will not only render the more than 11,000 employees jobless, but also passed on to us the much-debated stranded costs through more taxes and higher power rates," COURAGE President Ferdinand Gaite said.

The special session was requested by President Estrada to finally pass the much-delayed Omnibus Power Bill. The passage of the Bill is supposedly one of the packages to be presented by President Erap on his state visit to the US on July 26. Malacaņang is also expected to submit today to Congress its revised draft proposal for the emergency powers bill that will give the President the authority to ban workers strikes, forbid temporary restraining orders (TROs) on special projects, and can enter into negotiated contracts with private business for Mindanao.

"Lango na siya sa kaiinom ng Blue Label, gusto pang magpakalango sa sobrang kapangyarihan! (He’s already drunk with the Blue Label, and wanted to be more drunk with additional powers)" This was how government employees’ view Malacaņang’s proposal to give Estrada emergency powers. On the day of Congress’ Special Session, the protesters stage a picket rally at the gates of the House of Representatives and opposed to giving Estrada emergency powers using the Mindanao rehabilitation as alibi. "At present, he already has too much powers at his disposal, the result of which is the all-out war in Mindanao. With such fascist character, why should we give him another bomb to further ravage what is left to the people," Gaite adds.

Speaking at the rally, COURAGE President Ferdinand Gaite stated that emergency powers have become a license to abuse. When former President Ramos was granted the same at the height of the power crisis, the government entered into lopsided contracts with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) which now left the Napocor its almost PhP1 trillion debts. "This time, it will breed not only corruption and cronyism from negotiated contracts which will favor his friends heavily but also the curtailment of the worker’s right to strike, their only weapon against further oppression. #


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c/o COURAGE Office, 9-A, K-F Street, Kamuning,
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel/Fax: (63-2) 926-2235

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