2022 Philippine Elections

Ending endo, justice for slain unionists: Robredo signs 2022 pact with labor leaders

Mara Cepeda
Ending endo, justice for slain unionists: Robredo signs 2022 pact with labor leaders

LABOR AGENDA. Presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo sits beside senatorial bet and labor leader Sonny Matula during the covenant signing on November 29, 2021.

Office of the Vice President

Presidential bet and VP Leni Robredo also asks for the labor leaders' cooperation: 'Hindi iyon mangyayari kung hindi 'nyo ako sasamahan'

Vice President Leni Robredo signed a pact with labor leaders committing to work towards ending contractualization and investigating the killings of trade unionists should she become the next Philippine president in 2022. 

On Monday, November 29, the opposition presidential aspirant signed a five-point covenant with the Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni (ALL4Leni) led by senatorial bet Sonny Matula, national president of the Federation of Free Workers.

On top of Robredo’s covenant with the labor coalition is backing the passage of a security of tenure bill that would “eliminate or curb the rampant use and abuse” the practice of labor contractualization or “endo.”

“Endo” means end of contract, a term referring to schemes where workers are hired for a fixed period. Instead of regularizing workers which would entitle them benefits and the power to unionize, companies just rehire them as contractual workers.

The Vice President also committed to “end extrajudicial killings, especially of trade unionists, social activists, and journalists, by thoroughly investigating all cases of killings and holding those responsible fully accountable and by establishing and strengthening mechanisms that would uphold freedom of association.”

A pro-bono human rights lawyer who used to represent laborers in court, Robredo has long echoed workers’ call to end contractualization in the country.

The Vice President has also been one of the loudest voices against President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on government critics and activists, among them labor leaders. 

Robredo, however, drew flak over her recent remarks backing the mandate of Duterte’s notorious anti-insurgency task force, which has red-tagged unionists and other activists in the past.  She had previously pushed to abolish the NTF-ELCAC.

Other points in the covenant Robredo signed with ALL4Leni included “living wage” income for the working people, social protection through public service, consultation with the labor sector for policy reforms, and the conduct of regular meetings to discuss labor and social advocacies.

In her speech before the signing, Robredo pointed out just how difficult it would be to achieve all the points in the covenant.

She told the labor leaders present that she would be needing their cooperation to make the covenant a reality if she becomes president. 

Robredo promised to make space for the labor sector in her administration and to clean up the government so the reforms stipulated in the agenda would become reality.

“So sa akin, hindi ako sa inyo magko-commit na, ‘Kapag ako nakaupo, giginhawa iyong buhay niyo lahat.’ Hindi iyon mangyayari kung hindi ‘nyo ako sasamahan,” said Robredo, earning her applause from the labor leaders. 

(For me, I will not commit and say, ‘When I get elected, all of your lives would improve.’ That’s not going to happen if you won’t work with me.)

“Ang aking mako-commit ngayon mabibigyan kayo ng marami, maraming puwang para mag-participate kayo sa governance (What I can commit to you now is that I would give you a lot of space to participate in governance),” she added.

Apart from Robredo and Matula, the covenant was also signed by the following at the Office of the Vice President in Quezon City:

  • Renato Magtubo, Partido Manggagawa chairperson 
  • Jesus Exequiel Nidea , National Union of Bank Employees president
  • Ramon Ojeda, National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry in the Philippines vice president for Luzon
  • Daniel Edralin, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa chairperson
  • Antolin Pangan Jr., Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong secretary-general
  • Judy Ann Miranda, Nagkaisa Women’s Committee
  • Joanna Bernice Coronacion, Nagkaisa Women’s Committee

Fifteen other trade union leaders witnessed the covenant signing on-site, while some 400 other labor leaders watched the event via teleconferencing app Zoom. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.