Duterte blames labor group's strikes for factory closures

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) President Rodrigo Duterte touched on numerous topics during his televised tête-à-tête with Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

While talking about the economy, Duterte blamed labor strikes for the lack of factories and investors in the Philippines.

"Pagka-ganun na may sweldo tayo at ang factory marami, mayaman tayo," Duterte said.

[Translation: If we all have wages and many factories, we will prosper.]

He singled out militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) for urging laborers to go on strike.

"Andyan ang KMU. Sige'ng strike. Di sa strike strike nila, ay magsara," Duterte said.

[Translation: There's the KMU. Always going on strike. Because of the strikes, factories are shut down.]

Exasperated, Duterte said that he is not a god.

"Hindi ako Diyos. Kailangan ito hirap ng lahat," Duterte said before moving on to another topic.

[Translation: I am not a god. This is everyone's hardship.]

In the middle of his tirade, Duterte said that laborers don't go on strike in China.

KMU clapped back at the President in a statement issued while his televised event was ongoing.

"The upsurge of workers' strikes these past months are results of Duterte's failure to end contractualization, refusal to address the rising prices of commodities by implementing a significant wage hike, and of the government's fascist attacks against trade union and human rights," said KMU Chairperson Elmer "Bong" Labog.

Ending illegal contractualization practices was one of Duterte's promises early into his term, along with putting an end to illegal drugs and going after rice cartels.

READ: Ending 'endo': How's Duterte's campaign promise?

Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said that red tape, corruption and infrastructure are what discourages investors, not labor strikes.

"Quality jobs-creating investors are not investing into the country because of decades old problem on government red tape, government graft and corruption, expensive electricity, poor and ageing infrastructures, worsening peace and order situation particularly in the countryside, traffic congestion, and poor public mass transport system," said TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay in a statement later that day.

The spokesperson for an alliance of labor groups added that they too want investors to do their business in the Philippines.

"We are not in any way standing in their way to do business in the country. In fact and in truth, we are advocating employers and business to do responsible business in the country and we desire them to grow and thrive along with their workers and their employees for a better nation," Tanjusay said.