Labor Senate bets: We have 'real credentials' to push for pro-poor policies

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Win, a coalition of labor leaders running for Senate, said they are the only ones who have the "real" credentials to push for pro-poor policies unlike other candidates.

As they kicked off their campaign Thursday evening, February 14, Kilusang Mayo Uno founder Ernesto Arellano said that only those who have experience working with the marginalized have the capacity to make laws for them.

"Lahat ng kasama ko dito ay merong karanasan para ipagtanggol ang mga karapatan ng mga maliliit. Itong Labor Win lamang ang may credentials na [maglabas] at gumawa ng batas para magkapantay-pantay ang paggamit ng resouces," Arellano said.

(All of us in the slate have the experience fighting for the rights of the marginalized. Only Labor Win has the credentials to create laws for the equal use of resources.)

Arellano is joined by other Labor Win candidates: Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares, Bukluran ng mga Mangagawang Pilipino head Leody de Guzman, Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula, and labor lawyer Allan Montaño.

They are advocating for policies that would give decent jobs and wages, strengthen agriculture productivity in the country, bring down inflation, just treatment to overseas Filipino workers (OFW), and an end to Charter Change.

This is the first time in recent history that a coalition of labor leaders from different organizations will be running for Senate seats.

"Walang tunay na makapagsalita para sa mga magaggawa maliban sa mga nagmumula sa mga manggagawa," said Matula, a former newsboy to help fund his high school education.

(Nobody has the right to speak for the workers except those who are workers themselves.)

'Always there for workers'

Highlighting their experience with the labor sector, the candidates said that they have "always been there" for the workers.

"Kasama natin ang mga lider manggagawa [at] abugado ng mga mangagagwa. Kasama natin sila noon pa hanggang ngayon. Hindi nila iniwan ang kilusang paggagawa," Matula said.

(We are with the labor leaders and lawyers of the workers. They have always been there ever since. They didn't leave the workers' movement.)

CAMPAIGN. Five labor leaders running for Senate seat in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections, collectively known as the Labor Win, gather in Plaza Miranda for a proclamation rally on February 14, 2019. Photo courtesy of Defend Job PH

CAMPAIGN. Five labor leaders running for Senate seat in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections, collectively known as the Labor Win, gather in Plaza Miranda for a proclamation rally on February 14, 2019.

Photo courtesy of Defend Job PH

Colmenares said that they have been true to their words of serving the marginalized and the workers, even without the promise of winning electoral posts.

"Ginagawa namin ang aming plataporma may eleksyon man o walang eleksyon. Ipinaglaban namin ang manggagawa," Colmenares said.

(We do our platform even if it's not election season. We always fight for the workers.)

Workers' support needed

To win in the 2019 midterm polls, Labor Win senatorial candidates banks on the support of the workers they have long served. 

"Ngayon lamang mangyayari, mga kasama, sa kasaysayan ng eleksyon na magkakaron ng polarisasyon sa hanay ng mga botante. Mamimili ang mga manggagawa, ang ating mga botante, kung sino ang iboboto sa pagitan ng mga kandidato ng kapital, ng mga haciendero, at mga kandidato ng mga manggagawa," said De Guzman.

(This is the first time in the history of elections that there will be a polarization among workers. The workers, who are our voters, will choose between the candidates who own capital, the hacienderos, and the candidates of the workers.)

De Guzman, also a candidate of Partido Lakas ng Masa, believed that the "newfound unity" of the workers will help pave their Senate victory.

"Kayang-kaya natin 'yan, mga kasama! Sa pagkat sa 54 million na botante, 42 million ay manggagawa. Kayang-kaya nating magtagumpay! Ang kailangan lang natin ay ipagpatuloy natin ang pagkakaisang ito," he added.

(We can do this, my fellow workers! Out of the 54 million voters, 42 million are workers. We can win this! And all we need is to continue being united.) – 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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