Thousands join Labor Day protest in Bacolod

MILITANT groups burn the effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte, depicting the character of Sauron, themain villain in the movie Lord of the Rings, during Labor Day protests in Bacolod City Wednesday. (Glazyl Masculino)

By: Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – More than 1,000 members of various progressive groups in Negros Occidental gathered for a protest yesterday in Bacolod City to commemorate the 133rd International Labor Day.

Protesters from northern and central Negros marched from the Provincial Capitol Lagoon towards the Araneta Street in front of the Bacolod public plaza, where a short program was held.

Michael dela Concepcion, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Negros said the groups are calling on the government to increase the salary of the government workers and the minimum wage to P750 nationwide.

“It’s about time that the government should address the concerns of the people,” he added.

This is a way of reminding the people how important the role of the labor sector in the society and in the economy, he said.

The protest was led by Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), along with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) – Negros, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (Undoc), and Gabriela, among others.

The Social Action Center (SAC) of the Diocese of Bacolod and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also joined the Labor Day protest.

The activity ended with the burning of an effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte, whom they claimed to have led the implementation of Oplan Sauron in Negros Oriental, which killed 14 people.

The groups said that the victims were innocent farmers, but the local police maintained that the 14 fatalities were alleged “hitmen” of the New People’s Army (NPA), who resisted arrest during the operation.

They believed that the operation stemmed from Duterte’s Memorandum Order (MO) 32, directing the immediate deployment of troops to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Bicol in an effort to thwart lawless violence and acts of terror in these areas.