Groups to hold first ever online protests on Labor Day

Aika Rey
Groups to hold first ever online protests on Labor Day

Labor groups urge workers to voice out their complaints against the government's slow delivery of aid during the pandemic, as they take their battlecry online

MANILA, Philippines – There’s no stopping labor groups from expressing discontent against the Philippine government, as several organizations are set to hold online protests during the Labor Day celebration on Friday, May 1.

Labor groups are demanding the swifter implementation of health and livelihood programs, highlighting the need for wider testing and recognition of human rights while strict quarantine policies are in place.

At 9 am, Kilusang Mayo Uno will hold their own online rally. KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog called on workers to hold creative protests for Labor Day, such wearing of red face masks and shirts, or hanging of red streamers, to rally against the slow disbursement of government aid. 

“Marami talagang magrereklamo sa kapalpakan ng gobyerno. We urge the people to speak up on the failure of government to provide social relief, tutal sabi ni [President Rodrigo] Duterte mismo na magreklamo tayo!” Labog said.

(There are a lot of people who are complaining of the failures of the government. We urge the people to speak up on the failure of the government to provide social relief, since Duterte himself said that we should complain.)

At 10 am, labor, women, and youth groups will join a virtual rally on Friday at 10 am, led by the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa. The following groups will join the online protest:

  • Partido ng Manggagawa,
  • Federation of Free Workers,
  • World March of Women Pilipinas,
  • Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa,
  • Akbayan, Alyansa Tigil Mina,
  • Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan,
  • Lapis PH,
  • APL Youth,
  • Akbayan Youth,
  • Youth Students Advancing Gender Equality, and
  • Respect Fast Food Workers’ Alliance.

“This is the first time in history our Labor Day protest will be like this, we are ready to go online! Despite the ECQ, we will make sure Duterte hears our battlecry!” said lawyer Sonny Matula, who heads Nagkaisa and the FFW.

Senator Risa Hontiveros and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno will join unionists, drivers, and informal sector workers who will give short speeches on their proposals to the government on a “deep systemic change” at the 10 am virtual rally.

Just like a usual protest, there will be a performances by singer and composer Noel Cabangon and some artists from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, meanwhile, will hold another virtual rally and a noise barrage within their members’ communities from 11 am.

“The medium is the message. We have a starving and desolate people who are not only threatened to passivity by threats of state violence but are also limited by the COVID-19 pandemic to refrain from large gatherings,” BMP Chairman Leody de Guzman said Thursday.

Concerned Artists of the Philippines will hold a special edition of their online concert series “Lockdown Sessions” to commemorate Labor Day at 6 pm, where various artists will perform songs and spoken word dedicated to workers.

Millions of Filipinos around the country are told to stay at home and are banned from mass gatherings because of the threat of the coronavirus disease.

More than two million Filipinos have lost their jobs or under a “No Work, No Pay” scheme in 87,301 establishments nationwide, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

But those who have received aid so far is just a small fraction of the reported job displacement. Some 600,000 private and informal sector workers have received the P5,000 cash aid from the government, which is just 26% of the  affected workers.

DOLE has since stopped accepting applications for the cash subsidy program, citing lack of funds. On Thursday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said that the national government’s post-coronavirus recovery plan will include opening up 1 million jobs  in the provinces. –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at