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What Christmas means to militant leader

26 December 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao
Christmas joy should come with real justice and peace, says Villanueva

Christmastime’s message of peace, joy and love is more meaningful if there is justice and peace at home where Filipino workers have better-paying jobs so they don’t have to work abroad, a militant community leader has said.

Eman Villanueva, chairman of the Bayan Hong Kong & Macau chapter, said in his keynote speech at the 19th Parol-making Contest of Filipino Friends in Hong Kong on Dec 22 at City Hall, that Filipinos do not work overseas by choice but by necessity.
“Sa totoo lang, yung pagkawalay natin sa ating pamilya ay hindi natin ginusto kundi tayo ay kinailangan na magpasya ng isang mabigat at mahirap na desisyon nang sa ganoon ay maiahon natin o mabuhay natin ang ating pamilya,” Villanueva said.

“Kaya nga ang tawag natin sa ganitong migration ay forced migration, hindi ito kusang-loob,” he added.

If the new arrivals suffer intense homesickness this time of the year, what more with those who have been working here for 20 years, Villanueva said.

“Ang mensahe ng Kapaskuhan ay peace, joy, love. Kung nasa Pilipinas ka ba ay talagang may peace, joy, love?” he asked.



Villanueva said perhaps in the Philippines there is love, but when a family has nothing to eat or doesn’t eat regularly, then love gives way to irritability and intense pressure.

He said a worker can’t have peace if he is jobless or his salary can’t support his family. In the same vein, a farmer whose harvest is not enough to pay for his debt has no real peace.

In a jab at the Duterte government’s failure to fulfill its promise to end labor’s bane of contractualization, the Bayan HK & Macau leader said there is no real peace for workers who have no regular job, those forced to change employers every five or six months, or those who have been on the job for 10 years but are still contractual.

Likewise, workers can’t have real peace if they don’t have the means to take their sick family members to a doctor or send their children to school, he said.

“Walang kapayapaan kung walang katarungan para sa ating mga mamamayan,” said Villanueva. The only peace everyone knows is that of “tokhang” victims, alluding to the 27,000 extrajudicial killings since Duterte began his anti-drug campaign in 2016.

He said the Filipino people are seeking genuine peace where they enjoy better lives and exist peacefully without exploiters and earn enough for their families’ daily needs.

He said the irony is, if one calls for higher wages, jobs, land for farmers, free education, or complains against government services, he is called a New People’s Army rebel.

Villanueva said there are people who are fighting against injustices by the government, by the rich and powerful, and by foreign interests who exploit the country’s natural resources for a small fee to make costly products that they sell back to the people.

He said there would be genuine peace if the country uses its natural resources to make and export goods that would create more, better-paying jobs so Filipinos won’t need to work abroad.
 
FMWU and Bus 13 chapters won the top prize in the parol contest


Eight participating workers’ groups made Christmas lanterns from discarded recyclable materials that they said symbolized their lives, struggle and hopes as migrant workers.

The top prizes were won by Filipino Migrant Workers Union Chapter and Bus 13 chapters.
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