by Verna Dinah Q. Viajar
Manila – More than 6,000 trade unionists of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) were prevented to march from the streets of Welcome Rotunda to Mendiola as anti-riot police blocked the rallyists amid talks of coup and high military alert. Tensions ran high and scuffles erupted between baton-wielding policemen and the demonstrators injuring dozens of workers. Trade union leaders were also arrested during the demonstrations. “This government is worse than a dictatorship. May 1 is for workers. Why is the Arroyo government preventing us from expressing our rights?” asked Daniel Adralin, head of the Alliance of Progressive Labor.
Thousands of workers massed up for the Labor Day celebrations to protest against government corruption, the imposition of anti-poor taxes and worsening working conditions. The labor unions were joined by grassroots community organizations and peoples’ organizations to protest the worsening political and economic conditions in the country. Another 4,000 workers from another labor organization were blocked by the police at the Liwasang Bonifacio to prevent them from marching near the presidential palace.
Emerging from an unstable win in the May 2004 elections, the Arroyo government has admitted difficulties in curbing the impending financial crisis and deteriorating employment conditions in the country. Beginning 2005, rumors of coup plots circulated in the country and further destabilizing the government. In line with the government’s support for WTO free trade agreements, the massive trade and financial liberalization of the Philippine economy has drastically plunged worsened the employment conditions in the country.