Philippines (TUCP) states that the 6.6-percent economic growth in 2012, the highest in Southeast Asia, has not translated into opportunities for employment. As evidence, there has been an increase in underemployment rate from 18.8% in 2012 to 20.8% in 2013. Additionally, there has only been an insignificant decrease in unemployment rate from 7.2% in 2012 to 7.1% in 2013. This rate translates to roughly 6.6 million Filipinos with no jobs. Joblessness may be linked to poverty – but not always, for our government also takes part in improving the current situation of our economy. We do recognize the efforts of the Aquino administration in its promotion of a better Filipino economy. However, despite the increase in our Gross National Incomes and Gross Domestic Product, the trickle-down effect to the poor and to our labor sector is not tangible, as a matter of fact, poverty incidence has remained unchanged in the past six years. Our economic gains are not translated to better quality of life for every Filipino. Everyday struggles to access basic commodities prove that indeed, we must call on concretized change. Thus, in recognition of the role of our labor force as essential contributors in nation building, we are one with them in their struggle for higher wages, better working conditions, and a safer and culturally-relevant working environment. We call upon the administration to provide permanent solutions to the challenges concerning labor and employment. In this regard, we propose the following: 1) Reasonable regulation of the market and of economic initiatives upholds the welfare of workers. The current daily minimum wage in the NCR of PhP 426.00 only translates to a purchasing power of PhP 248.40. In solidarity with the labor sector, we then call for a Php125 wage increase. A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it is a grave injustice. 2) We need to put an end to contractual work as it is used as a scheme to deprive workers of their security of tenure; we call for regularization of all labor to prevent the repeated abuse of fixed employment terms to bypass the Labor Code provisions on security of tenure. In this light, the UPM USC pushes for the HB 892, the Security of Tenure Act, which will ensure permanency of worker’s employment. Further, we say no to non-wage benefits, for the workers' main struggle is to survive rising cost of daily living and acquire basic needs despite drastically low wages. 3) There is an increasing vulnerability among migrant workers. As of now, 2,500 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia are on camp out in front of the Philippine Embassy because of Saudi crackdown. We call the government to provide immediate repatriation of these stranded OFWs and more importantly, to ensure the protection of overseas workers from exploitative practices not only during employment in the destination country but also during the recruitment and pre-deployment phase both in the country of origin and destination as well as upon return and reintegration.

4) We are experiencing a massive shortfall of doctors, shown by a doctor-patient ratio of 1:26 000, a far cry from the 1:10 000 WHO Standard. This clearly exploits our healthcare force, which increases the risk for malpractice and decreases over-all quality of care. Thus, we call on higher state subsidy for health for DOH retained hospitals and government controlled healthcare facilities to increase employment of healthcare professionals. Increase of both wage as well as non-wage benefits would prove beneficial for our workers and would translate into higher healthcare workerpatient ratio resulting to improved quality of care. UP Manila, we should be one with our labor force in asserting solutions for the challenges they face because as Iskolars ng Bayan, Filipino laborers pay taxes that subsidize part of our studies. Furthermore, as future doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, allied health practitioners, public health practitioners, social scientists or corporate experts, we are not only fighting for the dignity of our laborers or the security of their families; we are fighting for the society we envision to live and work in as the next members of our Nation’s labor force. We thus intensify our calls: Employment and just wages, and accessible education and social services for all!

UP Manila University Student Council AY 2013-2014

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