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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty Years After September 11, 2001 - A Philippine Remembrance

 POINTS OF PASSION

   - Philippine history


Elpidio V. Peria

11 September 2001


Twenty Years After September 11, 2001 - A Philippine Remembrance


Today is the twentieth year since that infamous date from an American perspective - September 11, 2001. This is the date where everyone may be asked where were they when an event marking this day happened and while each of us will go through that kind of remembrance, we will attempt to recall  what the Philippine government did since that day and how would they look now with the benefit of hindsight borne out of the passage of time and past actions.


According to an archive of US Congressional Research Service analyses and reporting, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo voiced strong support for the United States in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.


 The Philippines, she said, is prepared to "go every step of the way" with the United States. President Arroyo allowed U.S. military forces to use Filipino ports and airfields to support military operations in Afghanistan. She cited morality and Philippine national interests as reasons for her pro-U.S. stand. She defined the national interest as linking a struggle against international terrorism with the struggle against terrorism within the Philippines


She supported the U.S. war against Iraq in March 2003, offering the U.S. military air space and refueling facilities and sent about 100 Filipino military personnel to Iraq for postwar assistance.5 However, in 2004, she withdraw the Filipino contingent from Iraq after Iraqi insurgents kidnaped a Filipino contract worker, Angelo dela Cruz,  and threatened to kill him.


According to Mely Caballero-Antony however, of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University of Singapore in 2002, there were several reasons why this open support for the US intervention in Iraq was opposed, among which are :


The tremendous impact the war would have on the 1.4 million documented overseas Filipino workers employed in the Middle East. Repatriating overseas contract workers, in case of a full-scale war breaking out between the U.S. and Iraq, would cost the Philippine government an estimated P8.6 billion (U.S.$ 162 million). 


The impact on the Philippines’ oil supply. The country imports most of its oil supplies for manufacturing and other major industries.


The possible spill-over effects of the Iraqi attack on the country’s own local Muslim population. These could further endanger the government’s on-going peace talks with the two Muslim secessionist groups: the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


These reasons eventually were proven to be just that, speculative fears, since all these items, from OFW remittances, oil supply and impact on the peace talks, got resolved within its own context and did not pose much of a problem to the country in these past 20 years.


Take for example the OFW remittances. Looking closely at 1 key Middle East country, Saudi Arabia for example, the remittances there are in a continued declining trend, with US$2.84billion in 2014 and now, in 2020, amounting only to US$1.81billion. But this is due to the changes happening in the country causing Filipinos to look for other Middle East countries.


Over-all, as reported by Rappler, despite mass layoffs worldwide, repatriations, and lockdowns, remittances of overseas Filipinos (OFs) fell by only 0.8% in 2020, reaching $33.2 billion in 2020, as workers found ways to send home much-needed funds to help support struggling loved ones in the Philippines.


According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2019, imports of crude oil and petroleum products by the Philippines decreased 37% to 143,100 b/d.


 Refineries experienced disruptions because of earthquakes, which probably reduced crude oil imports and increased product imports. One-third of the country’s crude oil imports originated in Saudi Arabia. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates together accounted for almost half of the Philippines’ total crude oil imports.


As to the item on impacts on the Muslim insurgency, with the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Georgi Engelbrecht of the International Crisis Group points to several areas where good regional cooperation among Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia could send positive ripple effects across the wider region thus lessening the threats of militant groups in the Philippines and its neighbors:



The 2016 Trilateral Cooperation Agreement (TCA),between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, has contributed to reducing the number of kidnappings in the area;


 stronger law enforcement cooperation and intelligence-sharing and the development of BARMM’s maritime capabilities can play a role in supporting these measures by implementing such policies at the municipal level. The autonomous government in Cotabato City should also keep a close eye on the Sulu Archipelago, and could work with provincial elites to encourage law enforcement cooperation among those coastal municipalities.


Innovative approaches such as facilitating more sub-regional trade through increased port connectivity in the triboundary area, and allowing a barter trade mechanism to operate freely could be beneficial for BARMM, the Philippines, and Malaysia’s Sabah region. 


With the establishment of BARMM, the threat of Islamic militants does not have much traction in this kind of context. Perhaps US President Joe Biden is right, our bigger challenge today as a world community is climate change, and if you want to check this interactive site by the Global Forest Watch, this is where we have not done much effort in these twenty years, what with the following depressing figure:


From 2001 to 2020, Philippines lost 1.29Mha of tree cover, equivalent to a 6.9% decrease in tree cover since 2000, and 753Mt of CO₂e emissions.


It seems that all those hoopla through the years about Green Philippine Highways and National Greening Program of the DENR has not impacted much our over-all forest cover. Oh, and it seems they want  to showcase that dubious Dolomite Beach in Manila Bay as a showcase of their environmental protection efforts.

oOo

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Shut Up, President Duterte and Respect the Principle of Separation of Powers!

POINTS OF PASSION

   - constitutional law; executive department

 

Elpidio V. Peria

5 September 2021

 

Shut Up, President Duterte and Respect

 the Principle of Separation of Powers!

 

Just this past week President Duterte warned the Senate not to investigate the ongoing projects of government agencies.

 

Being a lawyer, the President knows his law but it seems he is acting he does not know it, so for those who are inclined to believe him, there is such a thing as the principle of the separation of powers, which the late Fr. Jose Bernas, SJ explained as :

 

The principle of separation of powers essentially means that legislation belongs to Congress, execution to the Executive, and settlement of legal controversies to the Judiciary. Each is prevented from invading the domain of the others. (Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary, p. 603 (1996 ed.)

 

Thus, when the Senate through the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee conducts its investigation on allegedly anomalous transactions of govt, the Senate is acting within its prerogative to get to the bottom of these questionable transactions so that amendments to existing laws may be proposed and those dubious transactions will not be repeated again.

 

It cannot be helped that some Senators may grandstand on their way towards conducting these hearings but as Sen. Sotto said recently that several of President Duterte’s appointees are now facing cases because Senate hearings exposed their alleged corrupt practices. 

 

The power of the Senate, including the House of Representatives, to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is provided for by the Constitution itself, in  Article VI, Section 21 of the Constitution :

 

The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.

 

Why, then is the House of Representatives not conducting its own set of hearings on these supposed anomalies in President Duterte’s projects? It’s up to the leadership of the House itself, Lord Allan Velasco, or maybe they just don’t want to antagonize the President at this time.

 

To its credit, the House budget hearings also raise questions on the way the budget of DOH is primed for 2022, though the manner in which the House quickly terminated the budget hearings for the Office of the President shows the lack of spine among our Congresspeople at this time.

 

This is the reason why it’s good to have a bicameral (two chamber, Senate and House of Representatives) legislature, thus the principle of checks and balances are upheld.

 

Hopefully the people will see the kind of legislators that they elect to these positions and choose properly next time.

oOo

Sunday, August 29, 2021

If You’re Still Not Sure Climate Change is Happening, Just Consider....

 POINTS OF PASSION

- climate change

 

Elpidio V. Peria

29 August 2021

 

 

If You’re Still Not Sure Climate Change is Happening, Just Consider....

 

 

1. More greenhouse gases were produced in 2018 than any previous year, despite more than 20 countries reducing their carbon emissions since 2000, research from UNSW Sydney and their collaborators has shown.

 

2. The same study shows that while the COVID-19 pandemic may have brought about a temporary reprieve in carbon emission, experts have forecast a return to the previous upward trajectory of greenhouse gas production after observing economic growth moving back to previous levels.

 

3. In a study published around June 2021 in Environmental Research Letters, the researchers show that road transport, meat consumption and a global trend towards expanding floorspaces—otherwise the hallmarks of affluent economies—were big factors behind greenhouse gas increases while industry, agriculture and the energy systems continued to account for a substantial slab of the carbon emission total

 

4. In early June 2021, five countries in the Middle East joined the 50-degree Celsius club, which equates to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme heat comes a full month before high temperatures reach their annual average peak. These are in 123.8 degrees in Sweihan, a small town about 50 miles east of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates; Omidieh in southwestern Iran also climbed to 123.8 degrees, while Jahra, Kuwait, on the Persian Gulf, managed 123.6 degrees; Sunaynah, an inland desert town in northern Oman, logged a high of 122.2 degrees;  Sibi in central Pakistan did the same.

 

5. The village of Lytton, located in southern British Columbia, Canada, was the hottest spot in the entire country for three consecutive days. From Sunday, June 27, to Tuesday, June 29, Lytton broke the all-time Canadian high-temperature record, with each day hotter than the last. The heat peaked on Tuesday when the temperature reached 121 F (49.6 C)

 

6. On the night of July 24, historical records were broken in 19 districts: in the city of Kimberley and the surrounding area, the temperature dropped to -9.9C. In Johannesburg, the air-cooled to -7C. Such indicators are the lowest in the entire history of meteorological observations.

 

7. In mid-July, up to 7 inches of rain fell on parts of Germany over a 12-hour period last week, the equivalent of two months’ worth for the region. The downpour resulted in severe flooding that left nearly 200 dead, more than 700 injured and more than 1,000 people still missing in Germany and surrounding nations. 

 

8. At around the same time, the Mumbai international airport reported more than 9 inches of rain in 24 hours.  Of that total, close to 8 inches fell in just six hours. More than 30 people were killed across the city of 12 million because of the flooding caused by the monsoon rainfall burst.

 

 

 

9. Comparing this to Ondoy back in 2009, according to PAGASA,  Ketsana (the international name of Ondoy) dropped 17.9 inches (455 mm) of rain in Manila in just 24 hours on September 26, 2009. A record 13.43 inches of rain fell in Manila in the six hours between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time, which is equivalent to about a month's worth of rain for the area.

 

10. In a news item that came out around July 20, throughout Oregon and California, a grim phenomenon is taking hold: baby birds are trying to flee the intense heat by hopping out of their nests before they’re old enough to fly, plummeting to the ground below at rates that have conservationists extremely alarmed.

 

11. In a recent heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, in the area and parts of Canada, millions of shellfish were cooked alive off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

12. Also around that time, cherries on trees were also cooked; the scorching heat wave in the Northwest at the end of June destroyed an unknown amount of cherries nearing harvest in the Columbia Gorge.

 

13. Another impact of climate change, but this was a 2019 study, is the size of birds - they are shrinking and their wingspans growing, and this is also due to a warming earth. The findings showed that from 1978 to 2016, the length of the birds' lower leg bone - a common measure of body size - shortened by 2.4%. Over the same time, the wings lengthened by 1.3%.

 

14. Coming closer to us here in the Philippines, a 2011 PAGASA report as seen in the National Integrated Climate Change Database and Information Exchange System or NICCDIES, suggests a decrease in rainfall by 2020 in most parts of the country except Luzon. As far as extreme rainfall is concerned, however, the number of days with heavy rainfall (e.g., greater than 200 mm) is expected to increase with global warming by the year 2020 and 2050.

 

15. Also from NICCDIES, Observed sea level rise is remarkably highest at 60 centimeters in the Philippines, about three times that of the global average of 19 centimeters. This puts at risk 60% of LGUs covering 64 coastal provinces, 822 coastal municipalities, 25 major coastal cities, and an estimated 13.6 million Filipinos that would need relocation.

 

16. Still another one from NICCDIES which we may need to get used to, is water scarcity. A  study conducted by the World Resources Institute predicts that Philippines will experience a 'high' degree of water shortage by the year 2040. The country ranked 57th likely most water stressed country in 2040 out of 167 countries. The sector that will bear the brunt of water shortage by that year is agriculture, a major component of the country’s economy and which currently employs x% of the country's workforce.

 

 

To those still unconvinced, we’ll update this in the next 3 months to see if these trends will abate or get worse.

 

 

oOo

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Learning to Live with Climate Change...Now, There is a Book for That

 POINTS OF PASSION

  - climate change


Elpidio V. Peria

21 August 2021



Learning to Live with Climate Change...Now, There is a Book for That


It is quite fortuitous to encounter a soon-to-be-published book called, what else, Learning to Live with Climate Change : From Anxiety to Transformation, by Australian educator Blanche Verlie and made available for sale and in open access in the internet by Taylor and Francis just as the previous week we are coming to grips with the 6TH Assessment Report of the UN global scientific body dealing with climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, which reiterated the fact that the world is warming due to the various greenhouse gas emissions mankind has emitted from the era of the Industrial Revolution and there needs to be deep emissions cuts now before things really get irreversible.


The book takes off from a different angle, from the emotional or affective side of the climate change issue and focuses instead on the “human’s ability to feel climate as a powerful and serious mode of engagement.”


From this premise, the author develops a theory of learning and strategies for fostering it that “centres human feelings as potent apparatuses for knowing climate.”


The author believes “this approach can better attune to the intimate ways people are enmeshed with climate and cultivate the emotional capacities required for facing climate collapse.


This way of dealing with the issue is something that governments and even NGOs may not have adequately mined for its various possibilities, especially in mobilizing people into action.


It may be difficult to tap into the emotional reactions of Filipinos to climate change because right now they have more immediate things to worry about, like where they can get the “ayuda” within which they can survive the seemingly interminable cycles of lockdowns to cope with COVID-19..


Just the same, let’s look closely at these pedagogical approaches the author has developed through her years of experience in Australia, a developed country, as a climate educator.


The first of such approach is by encountering climate change. To the author, to encounter is to meet another in an unexpected way or in a way that is surprising or challenging. 


Elaborating further, the author says that “attuning to the ways we encounter climate change is to bring an attention to the ways that climate change is disrupting, pushing and reconfiguring us, and how disorienting, bewildering and destabilizing that can be.


Some examples of encountering climate change include direct lived experience of extreme weather, but also includes graphs of carbon dioxide, stories of climate injustice, news reports from disaster zones, arguments with skeptical family members, changing birdlife in the garden, etc.


This process is aimed at generating climate anxiety, the opposite of climate denial, which is a medium-to-long-term sense that the world- and our relationships, assumptions, dreams, security and identity is in the process of ending.


A person encountering climate anxiety disrupts the sense of individuality that we so often take for granted and therefore it can contribute to the emergence of new ways of being human.


Another approach involves witnessing climate change which involves more than absorbing and recalling factual information but requires facing up to the violences, traumas and injustices of climate chnage, sitting with the discomfort of this and crafting collaborative and respectful responses. 


Witnessing climate change requires listening to others’  experiences and validating the diverse climate realities they inhabit.


The third approach is about storying climate change, or the gathering and sharing of stories about climate change and the ways people are coping with its various impacts.


As explained by the author, stories connect occurences and information into meaningful and memorable narratives. They are also powerful social technologies as they are connective and affective and they activate peoples’ emotions far more easily than statistics and graphs. They are also engaging as they address issues or topics from relatable perspectives such as individual experiences.


What is the end-goal or point of all these approaches?


The author speaks about affective transformation, which contributes to processes of bearing worlds. This involves enduring the pain that current and potential climate change engenders while laboring to generate desirable and possible though always uncertain and indefinite futures.


This makes affective transformation better than emotional resilience since it requires climate-complicit peoples to change themselves and the socio-economic structures they are entangled with.


This affective transformation is part of how we live with climate change. Finally, the author says that learning to live with climate change also involves the kinds of respectful sorrow encompassed in the common idiom “learning to live with” something. It refers to the entwined affective  labors of identifying, and mourning relationships as they are torn apart, disfigured and/or reconfigured as the planet cooks.


Thus, learning to live with climate change is going to be disconcerting and distressing and it could also be joyful, reassuring, refreshing and/or invigorating.


Perhaps this is worth a try here in SOCSARGEN. Maybe in the middle of the pandemic, or we can use these same pedagogical approaches of encountering, witnessing and storying, with our experience of the pandemic, so that we can go beyond it and be strengthened into dealing with tougher or more existential problems intertwined with climate change.



oOo

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The World’s Inescapable Warming Means Now is the Time to Take Carbon Budgets Seriously

 POINTS OF PASSION

 - climate change


Elpidio V. Peria

14 August 2021


The World’s Inescapable Warming Means 

Now is the Time to Take Carbon Budgets Seriously


The recent 6th Assessment Report of the Nobel-Prize winner Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reiterates what it has been saying for several years now, that, as stated in the opening paragraphs of  its Summary for Policymakers,  each of the last four decades has been successively warmer than any decade that preceded it since 1850. Global surface temperature in the first two decades of the 21st century (2001-2020) was 0.99 [0.84-1.10] °C higher than 1850-1900.


This global warming is inescapable, meaning, whatever we do now after the release of the report, the warming of the earth will surely, definitely, happen, thus, global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered.


The IPCC further says that global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century and here the IPCC states a big IF: “unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.”


Back in 2019, the UN Environment Programme estimates that global GHG emissions cuts should be at 7.6% annually from 2020 to 2030 so that the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5C global average temperature increase is met.


In a recent synthesis report of the country commitments to the Paris Agreement, the level of ambition communicated through these Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs indicates that changes in these countries’ total emissions would be small, less than -1%, in 2030 compared to 2010.


In the same report, it was mentioned that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by contrast, has indicated that emission reduction ranges to meet the 1.5°C temperature goal should be around -45% in 2030 compared to 2010.


What this means is that unless significantly large actions are taken now, the world will fry, due to increasing heat, while some parts of it will be flooded with some being battered by increasingly severe storms, cyclones or typhoons.


What should the governments of the world do to keep them focused on taking the work of GHG emissions seriously?


Herein comes the notion of carbon budgets.


As defined by the IPCC in its Technical Summary,  the term “carbon budget” is used to describe the total net amount of CO2 that could be released in the future by human activities while keeping global warming to a specific global warming level, such as 1.5°C, taking into account the warming contribution from non-CO2 forcers as well. The remaining carbon budget is expressed from a recent specified date, while the total carbon budget is expressed starting from the pre-industrial period.


As helpfully explained  by a respected Indian popular science and development magazine, Down to Earth, the AR6 showed that the world can emit only about 500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) starting January 1, 2020 for a 50 per cent chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. For a 67 per cent chance of avoiding 1.5°C, the budget will come down to 400 GtCO2. For a 50 per cent chance of limiting temperatures to 2°C, the world can emit 1,350 GtCO2; and 1,150 GtCO2 for a 67 per cent chance.


Down to Earth notes that the world currently emits about 40 GtCO2 annually; the 1.5°C budget is likely to be exhausted in 11.5 years at 50 per cent likelihood and nine years at 67 per cent likelihood. This could be even lower if emissions rebound next year and surpass the pre-novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic levels.


The onus on who should be doing the emissions cuts first  and in a large  amount at that, rests on developed countries, which has long been agreed during the Rio Summit on Environment and Development in 1992, and is embedded in the  commitments written in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Looking closely at the world’s global carbon budget, a study by Friedliengsten, et.al. (2020) shows that the components of the carbon dioxide emissions of the world are the following :


fossil fuel combustion and oxidation from all energy and industrial processes, also including cement production and carbonation;


the emissions resulting from deliberate human activities on land, including those leading to land-use change;


atmospheric CO2 concentration;

 

sink of CO2 in the ocean;


sink of CO2 on land. 


The CO2 sinks as defined here conceptually include the response of the land(including inland waters and estuaries) and ocean (including coasts and territorial seas) to elevated CO2 and changes in climate, rivers, and other environmental conditions.


The study authors also note that in 2019, the largest absolute contributions to global fossil CO2 emissions were from China (28 %), the USA (14 %),the EU (27 member states; 8 %), and India (7 %).  These four regions account for 57 % of global CO2 emissions, while the rest of the world contributed 43 %, which includes aviation and marine bunker fuels (3.5 % of the total). 


Growth rates for these countries from 2018 to 2019 were+2.2 % (China),−2.6 % (USA),−4.5 % (EU27), and+1.0 % (India), with+1.8 % for the rest of the world. 


The per capita fossil CO2 emissions in 2019 were 1.3 tC per person per year for the globe and were 4.4 (USA), 1.9 (China), 1.8 (EU27), and 0.5(India) tC per person per year for the four highest-emitting countries. 


oOo


REFERENCE CITED :


Friedlingstein, et.al. 2020. Global Carbon Budget 2020. Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 12, 3269–3340, 2020 https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-12-3269-2020 

 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Pres. Duterte Silent on VP Leni’s Recommendations on NCR’s 3rd ECQ

 POINTS OF PASSION

  - COVID-19


Elpidio V. Peria

7 August 2021



Pres. Duterte Silent on VP Leni’s Recommendations on  NCR’s 3rd ECQ


Last August 4, Wednesday, before the 2-week ECQ in the NCR is about to start, VP Leni Robredo issued a brief video clip not even lasting beyond 2 minutes, outlining her recommendations that this ECQ might hopefully be the last ever lockdown that residents of Metro Manila will ever experience.


Her recommendations include :


One, testing should reach at least 120,000 a day so we can determine areas that are adversely affected;


Two, contact tracing should be unified into one app as for now there are too many it is difficult to have one reliable database to monitor COVID cases;


Three, assist hospitals to hire medical personnel, ensure access to medicines and oxygen and crack down on unscrupulous sellers who jack up prices of these essential items; 


Four, there should at least be 750,000 vaccinations a day so that PH can reach herd immunity sooner;


Five,  speedier ayuda for families and  businesses.


In essence, she said that this ECQ shd be a stop-gap measure; it will not work if other pandemic measures are in status quo and these five recommendations she made are not rigorously implemented.


Judging from the silence of President Duterte who usually gets worked up when VP Leni speaks on his drugs war, on his vaccination, and he even mused that perhaps VP Leni may die even,   this time he has finally nothing to say to contradict, belittle or insult VP Leni.


It may be that they are pre-occupied with who to team up President Duterte with in the upcoming 2022 elections, or they simply have other things to do that even his speech writers did not want to dignify VP Leni’s recommendations with an answer.  To their minds, that may be their ultimate put-down to VP Leni.


The Filipinos will make up their minds who is making sense now.


In the week that just passed, we saw Sen. Win Gatchalian positioning himself as a running mate of Sara Duterte; Senator-buddies Ping Lacson and Tito Sen rejecting the “Duterte-enabler” tag; and Mayor Isko Moreno either losing his balls or playing it smart  in not naming Duterte as the one who caused chaos among NCR residents who rushed to vaccination sites for fear of being arrested as what was declared by President Duterte; and Sen. Bong Go expressing willingness to be President Duterte’s running mate in 2022. 


Amidst the intensified Delta-variant-enabled pandemic and a brief feeling of euphoria and expectation due to our Olympic medalists Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam, we continue to strive and hopefully thrive.

oOo

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Food Delivery Riders’ Group is Right : Labor Advisory No. 14 is “Inutil”

 POINTS OF PASSION

  - labor rights


Elpidio V. Peria

31 July 2021



The Food Delivery Riders’ Group is Right : Labor Advisory No. 14 is “Inutil”


What caught my eye recently was a group of food delivery riders called Kapatiran ng Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) which was quoted in a Rappler news item and called the Department of Labor and Employment Labor Advisory No. 14 on Food Delivery Riders “useless”.


 The Secretary-General of the group, Don Pangan, was quoted in the news release as saying:


"The DOLE avers in the advisory that food delivery riders are protected by labor law and their contracts. On the contrary, the advisory affirms what presently exists – that the majority, if not almost all, food delivery riders are considered independent contractors and thus at the mercy of opaque app policies and algorithms,"


Examining the Labor Advisory, what is says mainly is that the relationship between the delivery riders and the digital platform company shall be tested according to the following tests:


The four-fold test;

The economic reality test; and 

The independent contractor test. 


In a series of footnotes in the Advisory explaining these tests, the fourfold test pertains to (i) the selection and engagement of the employee; (ii) the payment of wages; (iii) the power of dismissal, and (iv) the power of control over the employee's conduct. As per case law that evolved to clarify these tests, the determinative test to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship is the power of control, which is the right to control not only the end that needs to be achieved but also the means used to reach the desired end.


The economic reality test, involves a consideration of the following circumstances of the whole economic activity, such as : (1) the extent to which the services performed are considered integral to the employer's business; (2)  the extent of the worker's investment in equipment and facilities; (3) the nature and degree of control exercised by the employer; (4) the workers’ opportunity for profit and loss; (5) the amount of initiative, skill, judgment or foresight required for the success of the claimed independent enterprise; (6) the permanency or duration of the relationship of the worker and the employer;  and (7) the degree of dependency of a worker upon the employer for continued employment in that line of business. 


Lastly, the independent contractor test determines whether workers are deemed independent contractors because of their unique skills and talents and if there is a lack of control over the means and methods in the performance of the work.


Yes, the riders’ group are right that the DOLE Advisory did not outrightly state the obvious, that from the application of these tests, there is truly an employer-employee relationship between the digital platform company and the riders.


The Advisory then states the various minimum benefits that the riders are entitled to, from minimum wage, holiday pay, etc with the caveat that these are available if the delivery riders are “deemed employees”, which effectively kills off this enumeration as it leaves the determination of the status of the employees to the delivery platform company.


Another head-scratcher is the title of the measure, dubbed an “advisory”, which is not an implementing regulation or a guideline. 


The dictionary meaning of “advisory” is that it is “having or consisting in the power to make recommendations but not to take action enforcing them.”.


Most likely, given that it is a mere advisory, digital platform companies are not bound by it.


What completes the uselessness of this advisory is that there are no penalties or sanctions in case this Labor Advisory is not complied with. It only says that “any complaint or grievance of delivery riders and/or the digital platform company shall be resolved through conciliation, mediation, inspection or arbitration”.


The delivery riders have to take more actions to improve their plight as the DOLE cannot be relied upon to prioritize the delivery riders’ condition.


oOo


Twenty Years After September 11, 2001 - A Philippine Remembrance

 POINTS OF PASSION    - Philippine history Elpidio V. Peria 11 September 2001 Twenty Years After September 11, 2001 - A Philippine Remembran...