Why a coconut juice vendor sells at the Martial Law 2018 rally
MANILA, Philippines – He usually earns P200 a day, but tonight is an exception.
Thousands were expected to gather in Luneta for the 46th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration on Friday, September 21. It's a good opportunity to earn a little more than usual, Bernard Delos Santos, a coconut juice vendor, told Rappler.
"Mahirap na talaga ngayon, lahat mahal na. Kaya ayos para sa amin ang mga ganitong rally, kahit papa'no kumikita," Delos Santos said. (It's really difficult now, everything is expensive. That's why we go to rallies like this, because we earn more.)
At around 8 pm, Delos Santos and his wife enjoyed good sales at P1,000, but he said his capital amounted to P700, so they'll only take home P300.
He sells coconut juice by the cup. Customers can either choose the P5 one for the smaller cup, or P10 for the larger one.
"Hindi na masama 'yung P300. 'Pag malakas ang kita, P400. Pero mahirap pa rin pagkasyahin, eh pito 'yung anak ko," he said. (Earning P300 is not bad. When I earn more, it's usually P400. But it's still hard to budget, because I have 7 kids.)
But he's lucky tonight, he said. It's his second youngest daughter's birthday anyway, he added.
Difficulty in budgeting
Delos Santos said that his earnings are barely sufficient now, because of the higher prices of goods. Before, with P200 earnings, he could buy his family a meal for the day.
"Bibili ako ng bigas sa isang araw, tatlong kilo, kulang pa yon eh. eh singkuwenta na isang kilo eh. Samantalang dati ang mura-mura lang, may P200 ako, pwede na may bigas na may ulam na. Ngayon ulam wala pa. Kaya mahirapan badyetin," he said.
(I buy 3 kilos of rice per day, but that is not enough still. It’s P50 per kilo now. Before, if I have P200, I already have rice and dish. But now, I don’t have a dish yet. That’s why it’s hard to budget my money.)
To make ends meet, Delos Santos said he would buy rice from the National Food Authority (NFA). But lines are longer now, too. So he has to allot at least 7 hours of his day just so he could buy cheaper rice.
"Pahirapan na rin ngayon eh. Minsan gumigising kami para pumila sa NFA ng alas sais ng umaga, tapos makakabili na kami mga alas dos o alas tres. Pero ginagawa ko talaga para makatipid ako," he said.
(Even lining up for NFA rice is difficult. Sometimes we wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning to line up, and then we will be able to buy around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. But I do it so I can save money.)
Labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) said that the policies of the current administration only worsens the financial situation of the workers.
Sentro secretary-general Josua Mata said that the government is "all talk" in trying to solve these problems, but "the opposite" actually happens.
"Nakikita natin ngayon sa patakaran ng mga gobyerno na kung saan sasabihin nila na tumutulong sila sa mga manggagawa laban sa kontraktuwalisasyon, inaayos ang sahod [at] ang mataas na presyo, subalit kabaligtaran naman ang tunay na nangyayari," Mata told Rappler.
(They say that the policies of the government help the workers against contractualization, adjusting of wages and higher prices, but we see the opposite is what actually happens.)
On the anniversary of the Martial Law declaration, Mata reminded Filipino workers to be cautious of the Presidents policy pronouncements.
"We believe that this day is important to remind all the workers that if the tyranny of the Duterte administration triumphs, it's the labor movement that will be hit first, exactly how Marcos did it when he declared Martial Law," he said.
Labor groups have long slammed the administration's policies, and accused Duterte of siding with businesses instead of the workers for failing to end contractualization.
The groups have called for a wage increase due to higher prices brought by high inflation rates. Inflation rate for the month of August reached to a 9-year high at 6.4%, exceeding the economic managers' estimates.