Labor Day protests 'peaceful': police

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2019 08:03 AM | Updated as of May 02 2019 08:47 AM

An effigy of President Duterte is burned during Labor Day protests at the Mendiola Bridge in Manila on May 1, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Police on Thursday said it did not record any untoward incident as thousands of protesters marched in Labor Day rallies and attacked the economic policies of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Some 8,000 law enforcers kept watch over Wednesday's protests, where ground commanders coordinated with activist leaders, said Metro Manila police chief Major Guillermo Eleazar. 

"Talagang peaceful sa lahat po... Wala ni isang untoward incident tayong natanggap," he told radio DZMM. 

(It was really peaceful everywhere. We did not receive report of any untoward incident.) 

Rows of marchers flew red banners and chanted near the presidential palace in Manila, where they set fire to a horned effigy of Duterte adorned with Chinese and US flags.

"We continue to call on the government to provide a reasonable and living wage not only for us teachers but for all the workers in this country," said demonstrator Alex Legaspi, an educator for 30 years. 

About 8,200 marchers joined rallies nationwide, with the majority in the capital, police earlier said. 

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The Philippines' economy is one of the strongest in Asia, with growth that is consistently above 6 percent. However, just under a quarter of the nation of 106 million live in deep poverty.

Marchers were particularly outraged at Duterte's failure to outlaw employers misusing short-term employment contracts, despite a 2016 campaign promise to implement tighter regulations.

Workers get fewer benefits and protections under the practice, which is referred to as "contractualization".

"All of the workers with contractual employment should now be regularized since it was the promise of President Duterte," said 43-year-old Mimi Doringo, a union organizer.

The economy is an issue that has previously made a dent on the high approval ratings credited to Duterte by opinion polls.

Climbing inflation and a jump in prices for national staple food rice last year became a political liability before being tamed by central bank rate hikes and falling oil prices. 

With a report from Agence France-Presse