Monday, May 01, 2006

labor day

There must be something very wrong in a country when precisely during Labor Day, the laborers lambast the government instead of allow it to honor them. Today, we behold workers marching, rallying, protesting for being underrated, underpaid and underhandedly treated. And they are people who are still working somewhere somehow. One could just imagine what the millions of workless Filipinos feel during this Labor Day.

All employees, laborers and workers of whatever kind are mandated to pay bigger direct and indirect taxes, obliged to pay higher prices for basic commodities. At the same time, however, their salaries and wages—with all the usual deductions—remain strangely stagnant for many years. Time and again, they speak, they plead, they bargain. But time and again, government plays deaf, dumb and blind.

They are repeatedly told that the peso in their hands is becoming more and more valuable yet the same peso they have buys less and less. They are loudly informed that the national economy is improving fast. Yet their family economics is deteriorating even faster. They are told to be thrifty as if thrift for them were an option.

But what appears more disturbing is the response of the government to all those who dare go to the streets to protest doubtful government economic plans, programs and projects: Be still. Keep quiet. Go home. Otherwise, have the 1017 once more!

The government becomes the weakest when it intends to use the strongest means to quash the voice of the people. Lest it conveniently forget, it is the people who fund all the necessities as well as the luxuries of the government and this is why the government owes its service to the people—definitely not the other way around.

It seems that during these times, the country is witnessing a sad lesson of history in the making. A democratic form of government can gradually become authoritarian. This in turn can further deteriorate in being dictatorial. This in fact already happened in this country in not so distant past. That was one big bad news for the people then. Are the people now witnessing the reality of the saying that history merely repeats itself?

Labor Day 2006