Labor Day is a time to honor and recognize the contributions of the hardworking men and women
who have helped build our nation’s economy. This year, as we celebrate Labor Day, we acknowledge the resilience and determination of Filipino workers, who have continued to work hard despite the
challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued economic inflation. May 1 is a significant day around the world, as the same celebration was caused by a demand for an 8-hour workday which was fulfilled on May 01, 1886 in Chicago, Haymarket.

Meantime, in the Philippines, the first labor day was observed on the 1st day of May 1913, when over thousands of workers marched through Malacañang for a demand for fairer working conditions during the American regime which led to the passing of law declaring said date as a national holiday. Filipino workers have played a crucial role in shaping the country’s economic and
social development.

However, the same rights are being used by some anti-government organizations to push their political agenda at the expense of workers losing their jobs after their companies went bankrupt due to labor strikes designed by said groups. Here in the Cordillera, an organization in the Cordillera sympathetic to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National
Democratic Front, and its allied organizations went on the streets in the Central Business District of
Baguio on March 6, 2023, to convince jeepney drivers to join the nationwide Tigil Pasada of PISTON.

They called on the PUJ drivers to take part in the transport strike to oppose the jeepney modernization program of the government, which they claim is not beneficial to the jeepney drivers
and operators. Baguio PUJ drivers knew better than abandoning their commitment to deliver effective transport service to the public. No one bothered to heed these groups agenda that will clearly bring huge inconvenience to the riding public. Failing to sow hatred among hardworking jeepney drivers in Baguio, this group bragged during its self-declared People’s Cordillera Day on April 22, 2023 in Itogon, Benguet that it is actively campaigning for wage increase.

The group distributed a flyer from the Kilusang Mayo Uno during the event, which calls Cordilleran
labor force to unite, organize themselves into a union and demand for across the board Php750.00 minimum wage. This group along with KMU therefore project themselves as champions of the rights of the workers in time for the commemoration of the Labor Day on May 1, 2023. However, let us not forget what KMU has done to many workers in the country whom they organized into unions.

Instead of delivering relief to these workers, they ended up unemployed. Our hardworking Filipinos laborers deserve nothing like this, instead, they should be properly recognized and their sacrifices to propel this region towards progress be acknowledged on May 1. Let the Labor Day be a celebration of significant contributions of our workers to the nation’s recovering and thriving economy that has withstood the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let it not be another venue for antigovernment groups to ride on the issues affecting the labor force to sabotage peace in our
growing industries.

On this Labor Day, let us reaffirm our commitment on defending the rights and welfare of Filipino workers. Let us work together towards creating a more equitable and just society, where all workers are valued and respected. Let us recognize and appreciate the contributions of Filipino workers to our society. Let it be a day for the strong and brave Filipino workers!

Cristina Catbagan

Amianan Balita Ngayon