Filipino labor leaders speak in Boston
Boston, MA – Workers and students packed into the office of Boston’s Chinese Progressive Association on April 27 to hear labor activists from the Philippines speak about the state of working-class struggle in their country. The event, sponsored by the Boston chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), featured speakers Raymond “Mong” Palatino and Ed Cubello.
Palatino is the chairperson of BAYAN, an alliance of Filipino progressive organizations, in metro Manila. He guided the crowd through a brief overview of the history of the Philippines, leading up to the current regime of Rodrigo Duterte. He then introduced Ed Cubello, the chair of the Metro Manila chapter of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the militant trade union center in the Philippines.
Cubello described the dire working conditions and poverty faced by much of the working class in the Philippines as well as efforts to organize and fight back led by the KMU. The speakers also addressed the increased repression faced by trade unionists under Duterte. The crowd was clearly impacted by these stories, with one worker in attendance simply saying (through a Cantonese interpreter), “They must be freed.”
The speakers noted the important role that international solidarity has played throughout the history of the Filipino people’s struggle. A recently passed resolution from the San Francisco Labor Council calling for an end to U.S. military aid to the Duterte regime was highlighted. Many of those in attendance committed to call for their unions and community organizations to engage in similar acts of solidarity.