MANILA, Philippines – When cornered by allegations of corruption in the labor sector, Partido Lakas ng Masa bet and labor leader Leody de Guzman strongly defended his ranks from the charges of a rival presidential candidate.
During the CNN Philippines Presidential Debate on Sunday, February 27, De Guzman confronted allegations of corruption within labor groups made by Jose Montemayor, a rival presidential candidate. This forced De Guzman to compare Montemayor to the dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr who is also running for president but was absent at the debate.
“Akala ko absent si Marcos [Jr.], nandito pala. Wala nang pinuri kundi mga kapitalista at wala na kinagalitan kundi ang mga manggagawa kaya dinudurog ang hanay ng mga manggagawa, sinisiraan ang mga manggagawa at pinupuri ‘yong mga kapitalista,” De Guzman said.
(I thought Marcos was absent, but as it turns out, he’s here. You did nothing but to praise the capitalists and attack the workers that’s why they’re being attacked. You’re attacking the workers and praising the capitalists.)
Among the 10 presidential bets, De Guzman is the only one who has years of experience in labor organizing. De Guzman has been working as a labor leader for at least 38 years.
When he ran for senator in 2019, De Guzman brought his pro-labor platforms to the campaign table. For his second shot at a national post, this time for president, De Guzman also raised the same agenda.
Among the labor leader’s platforms is ending the decades-long problem of contractualization by banning all manpower agencies. De Guzman also promises to raise the minimum wage to P750 across the board.
Just last week, the labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines expressed support for the dictator’s son. However, Marcos Jr. has yet to iron out his labor agenda.
On employers’ rights
During the debate, Montemayor also asked about De Guzman’s point of view on employers’ rights.
“Kayo po ba, ako I am pro-labor, kayo po ba iniisip niyo rin ‘yong mga employers? (I am pro-labor, are you also thinking about the employers?),” Montemayor asked. “So ang ibig sabihin, in being pro-labor, hindi niyo ba ini-impinge din ang right ng mga employers? (So that means, in being pro-labor, are you not impinging on the rights of the employers?).”
De Guzman responded by pointing out his sympathy for the micro, small, and medium enterprises. The labor leader also highlighted the small wages of workers.
“Pero ang gusto nating sabihin ba ay patuloy nating pahirapan ‘yung ating mga manggagawa, pasahurin ng slavery wage, gano’n? Gayong klaro na ang mga study na dapat ay sahurin ng mga manggagawa ay ganitong halaga,” the labor leader said.
(But do we want to say that workers should continue being treated unfairly? Give them slave wages? Even though studies are very clear that laborers should receive the right amount of compensation.)
“Huwag nating gawin ‘yong ating mga manggagagwa maging miserable ang buhay. Huwag nating purihin lang ang ating mga manggagawa na sila’y bayani tuwing Mayo Uno. Lagyan natin ng konkretong tulong ’yong ating mga manggagawa nang sa gano’n magkaroon ng dignidad ‘yong ating mga manggagawa,” De Guzman added.
(Let us not make our laborers’ lives miserable. Let’s not just praise them and call them heroes during Labor Day. Let’s give them concrete help so that they will live dignified lives.) – Rappler.com