March 15 has been celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day to raise global awareness about consumers’ demands and that the rights of all consumers are protected and respected following market abuses and social injustices.

Consumers and mothers Minda Mazo and Alyssa Mendoza lamented the soaring prices for basic commodities

“Malaki ang pamilya namin. May apat na bata at kaming mag-asawa,” Mazo shared.

[Our family is large, consisting of four children and us as a married couple]

Mazo works as a volunteer teacher in a daycare in Batasan, Quezon City. She also receives on-call and ‘sideline’ jobs to add income to defray their daily expenses.

“Minsan dumidiskarte ako sa mga pagrerepair ng damit, kapag may nagpapaluto. Raket raket. Sa repair, yung pagsusulsi ng pantalon. Mano mano ito. Yung asawa ko naman, nagtatahi ng sapatos para lang magsustain pang-extra income lang,” Mazo said.

[At times, I get jobs for clothing repairs, or when someone needs a cook. It’s a side hustle. For repairs, it’s usually sewing up trousers. It’s all done by hand. Meanwhile, my husband repairs shoes just to make ends meet. It’s just for extra income]

Mazo and her husband’s work does not guarantee their family’s regular earnings.

The National Capital Region’s minimum wage stands at P610 per day. Meanwhile, economic think tank IBON Foundation noted a family of five in NCR should receive a wage of P1,198 per day or P26,049 per month, as of February 2024.

However, Mazo’s family has a daily budget of only P500. Out of this amount, P100 is allocated for her son’s allowance, leaving the remaining P400 for their food expenses.

“Kailangan pa nga dumiskarte talaga para masustena. Kapag walang extra money, kapag walang pampamasahe. Minsan nga nagbibike nalang sila para lang makapasok,” Mazo lamented.

[We really need to be resourceful just to sustain ourselves. When there’s no extra money, when there’s no fare, sometimes they just bike to get to work.]

She worried that their situation would get worsen should the charter change push through.

“Nahihirapan talaga kami sa bilihin pa lang, dagdag pa itong kuryente at tubig kasi patuloy rin ang pagtaas,” Mazo emphasized.

[We’re really struggling just with the cost of groceries alone, not to mention the increasing prices of electricity and water due to continuous hikes]

Mazo scored the implications of charter change given the public-private partnership driven projects and local utilities or service industries that are owned by monopoly businesses like Meralco for electricity and Maynilad for water.

Both Mazo and Mendoza participated in the protest action held in front of House of Representatives on March 13, coinciding with the plenary interpellation for the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 7.

On February 19, RBH 7 was filed in the House of Representatives. The said resolution is similar to RBH 6 wherein Congress can propose amendments to the constitution “by a vote of ¾ of all its members.”

OFW realities: Low Salaries, High Hours

Mendoza worked as a domestic helper in the Middle East given the meager salary she earns in the Philippines.

For two years, Mendoza decided to move back in 2022 still because of the dire working conditions.

“Noong nandito ako sa Pilipinas, nakailang trabaho ako pero dahil nga kontraktwal ay di talaga sustenable at di sapat ang sahod,” Mendoza said.

[I tried several jobs when I was here in the Philippines. But because these were contractual jobs, they were not sustainable and the salary was inadequate]

Before working abroad, Mendoza worked as a service crew in a bakery shop. She described her work as a “one-man staff” and assailed the unfair labor practices.

“Baking, selling, accounting, yong buong process ay ako talaga. Halos 16 hours akong nagta-trabaho. Hindi kaya ng katawan ko at wala na akong time para sa mga anak ko pati sa mga kaya ko pa sanang gawin. Maliit ang sahod, around P350 lang sa 16 hours,” Mendoza detailed.

[I was doing everything from baking, selling, to accounting, the whole process was done by me. I worked for almost 16 hours. My body couldn’t handle it anymore, and I had no time for my children or even for the things I still needed to do. The salary was small, around P350 or US$6 for 16 hours of work.]

“Pero nung inalisan ko itong 16 hours na trabaho dahil mababa ang sahod, doon naman sa ibang bansa ay mamamatay ako sa trabaho,” she added.

[But when I quit that 16-hour job because of the low salary, I realized that in another country, I would be worked to death.]

Mendoza shared she would work with no definite schedule, having to rest for only four hours.

“All around iyon, lahat ng trabaho gagawin. Plus, kung maaarkila ka pa, dadalhin ka pa sa ibang bahay. Ang pinakamahirap kasi ron, hindi yan na parang kubo-kubo lang, building building kasi iyan. Sa akin 14 rooms ang nililinis ko. Ganoon kahirap para sa akin lalo na ako lang mag-isa. Magluluto pa ako, aasikasuhin pa ang anak ng amo ko, mapakain sa tamang oras,” Mendoza shared.

[It’s all-around work, you have to do everything. Sometimes, you’ll also be taken to other houses aside from the actual employer. The hardest part is that it’s not just simple cottages, it’s buildings. For me, I clean 14 rooms. It’s that difficult for me, especially since I’m alone. I still have to cook, take care of my employer’s child, and ensure they are fed at the right time.]

Mendoza currently stays in their home to take care of her three children and her mother. Their family depends on her husband, who works as a driver for J&T Express.

“Sobrang nakakalula talaga ang presyo ng bilihin ngayon at hindi na alam saan kukunin pa ang pambili. Sa pagbabadyet namin, kahit ang sahod ni mister ay kailangan tipirin,’ Mendoza said.

[The prices of goods nowadays are truly staggering, and we don’t even know where to get the money to buy them anymore. In budgeting, we have to save with husband’s salary.]

In 2022, Fairwork Philippines reported ride-hailing apps like J&T Express, Grab, Lalamove among others have failed providing equal pay, conditions, contract, management, and representation.

“Hirap nang i-avail ang services ng government eh paano pa kapag talamak na ang private ownership eh di mas lalong mahirap. Sa edukasyon, iisipin ko ang future ng mga anak ko, eh kung lahat mga eskwelahan sa kasalukuyan ay gawing private? Ano na lang ang mangyayari?” Mendoza added.

[It’s already difficult to avail of government services, what more if private ownership becomes rampant? In education, I think about the future of my children. What if all schools nowadays become private? What will happen then?]

According to the National Union of Students of the Philippines NCR, the Philippines has 1,710 private higher education institutions versus 233 state universities and colleges (SUCs) as of 2017. This means that 88% of institutions offering college degrees are privately-owned.

“Dahil mayroon akong mga anak na nag-aaral sa kasalukuyan, iyong mga pangunahin na pangangailangan ng mga anak ko ay maapektuhan laluna sa panukalang charter change. Imbes na ibibili ko o idadagdag pambadyet para sa mga anak ko ay ilalagay pa sa other fees na idadagdag mula ron sa bibilhin ko,” she cried.

[Because I have children currently studying, their needs will be affected especially with the proposed charter change. Instead of buying or adding budget for them, it will be allocated to other fees that will be added on top of what I will purchase.]


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