Labor leaders coalition on Senate bid: End contractualization

MANILA, Philippines – A coalition of labor leaders gunning for seats in the Senate launched their bid on Friday, January 18, promising pro-worker policies for Filipinos.

Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares along with 4 other "Labor Win" senatorial bets want to finally bring an end to contractualization through legislation.

"Panahon na po para tapusin ang isa sa pinakamalupit na sistema sa ating bansa, ang kontraktwalisasyon. Ang tama, tama. Ang mali, mali. At mali ang kontraktwalisasyon. 'Yan ang aming paninidigan," Colmenares said.

(It's time to end the worst system in our country – that is contractualization. What is right is right. What is wrong, is wrong. And contractualization is wrong. That's our stand.)

After all, contractualization hasn't "ended" yet under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte. The executive order signed in May 2018 was widely-slammed by labor groups as they deemed it was only redundant with existing laws. (TIMELINE: Duterte’s promise to abolish endo)

Colmenares is joined by Bukluran ng mga Mangagawang Pilipino head Leody de Guzman, Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula, labor lawyer Allan Montaño, and National Confederation of Labor head Ernesto Arellano.

The Labor Win coalition is advocating policies that would give decent jobs and wages, strengthen agriculture in the country, bring down inflation, just treatment to overseas Filipino workers (OFW), and an end to Charter Change.

Though far from the most coveted "Magic 12" in the recent surveys, the labor leaders are banking on the support of the unions under their groups to campaign for and support them.

"Dapat ang mga manggagawa ay 'wag matakot sa kapangyarihan. Tutukan nila ang kandidato na gusto nilang iluklok sa Senado. 'Yan ang mga kandidato na mula sa hanay ng mga manggagawa," Matula said.

(The workers should not be afraid of power. They should support the candidates that they want to elect in the Senate. And those candidates should be from the workers' groups.)

Of the bets, only Montaño – who ran for Senate in 2016 but lost – was not in the latest Pulse Asia voter preference survey. Colmenares ranked the highest at 19 to 24; Arellano at 27 to 49; De Guzman at 33 to 54; and Matula at 45 to 70. (READ: Survey says: How 2019 senatorial bets are faring so far)

Here are some excerpts from the launch pitch of Labor Win, in order of appearance:

Bukluran ng mga Mangagawang Pilipino head Leody de Guzman

Hindi pwede na magpatuloy ang kontraktwalisasyon sa ating mga manggagawa dahil ang ating mga manggagawa ay tao rin. Regular ang kanilang mga pangangailangan – pambayad ng kuryente, tubig, tuition fee, bahay. Hindi pwedeng bigyan ng trabaho na walang regular na kita.

(We cannot allow contractualization of our workers to continue because our workers are also human. They have regular needs – money to pay electricity and water bills, tuition fee, and housing. They shouldn't be given jobs that do not have regular wages.)

Sa tingin ko itong political dynasty ang pinakamalaking problema natin kung bakit 'di tayo umuunlad. Nakapaghahalal tayo ng kandidato na salungat ang interes sa manggagawa. Nawawalan ng saysay ang magagandang plataporma. Ang kanilang sinusulong ay ang interes ng kanilang uri na magiging dinastiya, na ang direksyon ay buhayin lang ang kanilang pamilya.

(I think political dynasty is the biggest problem and the reason why the country is not prosperous. We elect candidates who have opposite interests with the workers. The essence of their platform is lost. They only push forward interests for their dynasty, that only leads to sustaining their families.)

Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares

No to Cha-Cha – ang pinakamatinding bira sa manggagawa, sa magsasaka, sa urban poor, at isa pang inaaping sektor. Tinanggal ang malalaking karapatan ng manggagawa sa Konstitusyon: Ang security of tenure, ang living wage, humane working condition, at tinanggal ang nakalagay na just share sa fruits of labor. Tinanggal din ang political dynasty prohibition, tinanggal din ang term limits para pwedeng tumakbo ang mga politiko "forevermore." It's not about the workers. Their Cha-Cha is a self-serving Cha-Cha for the benefit of politicians.

(No to Cha-Cha – the biggest blow to the workers, the farmers, the urban poor, and the marginalized sector. It removed the biggest rights of the workers in the Constitution: The security of tenure, the living wage, humane working condition, and it also removed just share of fruits of labor. They also removed the political dynasty prohibition, and removed term limits so candidates can run "forevermore." It's not about the workers. Their Cha-Cha is a self-serving Cha-Cha for the benefit of politicians.)

Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula

Hindi umuunland ang aming buhay dahil dapat tutukan ng pamahalaan ang pagmoderno sa ating agrikultura. Dapat pabilisin pa ang agrarian reform ng pamahalaan. Kulang na kulang ang support sa ating agriculture at support assistance para sa agrarian reform.

(We do not have a prosperous life because the government should modernize agriculture. They should swiftly implement agrarian reform. We also have lacking support for our agriculture and the support assistance for agrarian reform.)

Labor lawyer Allan Montaño

Minumungkahi natin at dapat magkaron ng malinaw na batas na anong klaseng mga kaso na dapat [Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration] ang magaalalay ng mabibigay ng legal support at anong mga cases and nasa ilalim ng [Department of Foreign Affairs] para hindi na lito-litong ang mga OFW 'pag may mga kaso silang hinaharap.

(We suggest that there should be a clear law on what cases should be under OWWA so that they can give legal support, and which cases should be under DFA, so that our OFWs are  no longer confused when they have cases.)

Ako, isusulong ko ang isang batas na magkaroon tayo ng tinatawag na "OFW investment fund" – isang pondo na kung saan pwedeng gamitin upang gawing puhunan para mag-establish ng kung anumang negosyo. Ito ay garantisado ng estado para walang pangangamba ang OFW na ang kanilang pera ay malulusaw o matutunaw.

(I am also pushing for a law that would create what we can an "OFW investment fund' – a fund that can be used as a capital to start any business. This should be state-guaranteed so no OFW will fear that their money will be lost to nothing.)

National Confederation of Labor head Ernesto Arellano

Labor lawyers kami lahat. Organizers kami. Bakit hindi natin umpisahan ang candidacy natin ngayon na 2019 na nagkakaisang hanay na kinatawan ng mga manggagawa at marginalized labor para baklasin na natin ang paghahari at control ng political dynasties dito sa ating economy at politics?

(We are all labor lawyers. We are organizers. Why don't we start our candidacy this 2019 showing that united representatives of workers and marginalized labor to put and end to the dominance and control of political dynasties in our economy and politics?) – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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