What some groups expect from first 100 days of Marcos administration

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 2) – Groups from the health, labor, transport and education sectors have laid down their agenda for the first 100 days of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Among their top concerns are the increase of budget allocation for their sectors, higher wages, end of contractualization, and better public consultation with stakeholders.

Higher pay for nurses, prioritizing health sector

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) welcomed the mention of public health in the inaugural speech. But it called on the new administration to prioritize increasing the entry salary of public and private nurses to ₱50,000 per month. The group also hopes to see the end of contractualization or the 'job order nurses' since a large percentage of nurses in the public sector are contractual workers.

FNU Secretary General Jocelyn Andamo said the nurses deserve the raise because of their valuable contribution especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the high quality of their work.

"Malaking bagay na sana in the first 100 days ng Pangulong Marcos Jr. ay mataasan ang sahod ng nurses at maging regular ang contractual nurses at sana mag-create ng plantilla positions sa government," Andamo said.

[Translation: It's a big help if in the first 100 days of President Marcos Jr.'s administration, the nurses' salaries are increased and those who are contractual become regular. We also hope they create more plantilla positions in government.]

The group also wants the health budget allocation to be 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP) to ensure services reach more people, even those in far-flung areas. The group calls for a review of the Universal Healthcare Law and its implementation.

"Kailangan magdagdag ng budget pangkalusugan para diretso na sa ating public healthcare facilities. Hindi yung dadaan pa sa PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) bago pa makakuha ng serbisyo. I-strengthen natin yung public healthcare system through adequate and increased national healthcare budget," Andamo said.

[Translation: The budget for the health sector must be increased so that it can go directly to public healthcare facilities, and no longer needs to go through PhilHealth. We need to strengthen the public healthcare system through adequate and increased national healthcare budget.]

She believes increasing the budget will also pave the way for better pay and benefits for health workers to prevent them from leaving the country.

Raising old labor issues to the new admin

The labor sector renewed its call for higher wages and to end contractualization to the new administration.

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said it's about time to increase workers' salaries based on the current situation and the economy's state.

"Kailangan naming i-raise, ano ang gagawin niya sa napakababang sahod ng manggagawa? Napakababa ng dagdag sahod, hindi nacocompensate ang mga sahod ng mga manggagawa na nawawala dahil sa inflation rate ng ating bansa," KMU Secretary General Jerome Adonis said.

[Translation: We need to raise and ask what will he do with the very low salaries of workers? The wage increase is very low. It does not compensate the income lost due to high inflation rate in the country.]

The labor leader said there needs to be a law to equalize the salaries of private sectors nationwide based on the family living wage. Adonis added they have tried to raise their wages through proper channels, such as the regional wage boards.

The next issue on their agenda is the longstanding issue of contractualization. They want Article 106-109 in the Labor Code repealed to avoid the exploitation of contractual workers. Adonis is hopeful after their first meeting with Labor Secretary Benny Laguesma.

"Si Sec. Benny Laguesma naman ay hindi bago sa Department of Labor. Ang sinasabi niya sa issue ng contractualization, yung illegal is still illegal. Hindi na niya papayagan," Adonis said.

[Translation: Secretary Benny Laguesma is not new to the Department of Labor. On the issue of contractualization, he said what's illegal is still illegal. He will not allow it.]

KMU also wants the red-tagging of labor leaders, unions, and progressive groups to stop.

Back to basics for education

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers of the Philippines hopes the current administration considers its 10-point agenda when crafting plans for the Education Department. The group's challenge to the government focuses on ensuring a safe return of 100% face-to-face classes nationwide.

"Napakalaki ng ating bubunuin lalo na sa ligtas na pagbabalik sa paaralan sa paparating na school year. Sinusuportahan yan ng ACT dahil walang makakapalit sa quality ng face-to-face classes. Pero kailangan natin i-secure ang seguridad ng ating estudyante," ACT Philippines Spokesperson Ruby Bernardo said.

[Translation: We have a lot to fight for, especially for a safer return to school in the coming school year. ACT agrees that nothing can replace the quality of face-to-face classes. But we need to ensure the security of our students.]

She said doubling the budget for DepEd or bringing it to the United Nations standard of 6% of the GDP will help achieve the other points in its agenda. These include building infrastructure such as classrooms, providing sufficient and quality learning resources, and hiring enough education support personnel.

Similar to nurses and workers, teachers are also appealing for higher salaries and better benefits. They want the salary level upgraded to Grade 15 for Teacher I, equivalent to over ₱30,000 compared to the current ₱24,000. Public school teachers also call on compensation for excess workdays for SY 2020-2021 and granting of sick leaves.

"Talagang nahuhuli na yung sahod ng teacher. Ipinapangutang pa nga po namin kahit yung pangangailangan namin sa distance learning, yung basic na ganun. Baka this time ay mabigyan na ng tuon yung paghahanda sa ligtas na pagbabalik eskwela kasama yung suporta sa ating teachers," Bernardo said.

[Translation: The salary of our teachers are lagging behind. We even borrow to meet our basic needs in distance learning. We hope this time, it will be a priority to prepare for a safe return to school along with the support of our teachers.]

ACT hopes their appeals for higher salaries will be supported, since Vice President Sara Duterte is the Education chief. The group also emphasized the need for regular consultation.

Other points in their agenda include the conducting of student assessments to determine the extent of the learning crisis, the return of Philippine history in the high school curriculum, and enactment of the Magna Carta for Private School Teachers.

Dialogue with transport sector

Addressing the rising prices of fuel products remains the top priority for the public transport sector. PISTON National President Mody Floranda said the unabated increase is hurting drivers and operators, who work long hours to earn a living.

While transport groups call for the review of provisions in the Oil Deregulation Law and excise taxes in fuel products, they also want to be heard especially in policy making.

"Ang una naming hinihiling na magkaroon ng Public Transport Conference para mailatag ang mga problema at ano ang solusyon (Our first wish is to hold a Public Transport Conference so that we can address our problems and pinpoint the solutions)," Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators ng Pilipinas President Orlando Marquez said.

Marquez cited changes in franchise applications and the re-assignment of routes as oppressive policies they had to endure. The transport group leader said there must be regular consultation with stakeholders and government to ensure policies are fair and fit for the sector.

LTOP also wants a review of the system for aid and subsidy distribution, should it be continued by the new administration. He called the current system selective since not all receive government aid.

Marquez, former President of the Filipino Inventors Society, also encouraged government to invest and promote local inventions that can help lessen fuel consumption and pollution. He believes investing in these gadgets are a long-term solution, instead of relying on a temporary government aid.