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Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday, October 22, named labor leader and lawyer Sonny Matula as the 12th candidate on her senatorial slate.
Robredo announced her decision on Friday afternoon, exactly a week after she announced the 11 other senatorial aspirants on her ticket.
“Ikinagagalak ko ngayong ihayag: Isinusulong ko para sa Senador si Attorney Sonny Matula,” Robredo said in a statement sent to newsrooms. (I’m pleased to announce: I am endorsing Attorney Sonny Matula for senator.)
Robredo cited Matula’s “clear track record in fighting for the rights of Filipino workers.”
“Humarap siya sa mga malalaking korporasyon, na ang tanging sandata ay paninindigan at husay sa abogasya. Isinusulong niya ang karapatan ng mga manggagawa – isang adbokasiya na matagal na rin nating ipinaglalaban bago pa man ako pumasok sa pulitika. Bilang labor advocate, sigurado akong ipaglalaban niya kung ano ang tama, mabuti, at makatarungan, hanggang dulo,” she said.
(He challenged big corporations, armed only with his conviction and his skills as a lawyer. He is pushing for the rights of workers – an advocacy that we have also been long fighting for even before I entered politics. As a labor advocate, I’m certain that he will fight for what is right, good, and just, until the end.)
The Vice President added: “Malinaw sa mga usapan namin kung nasaan ang puso ni Attorney Sonny Matula. Para sa kanya, ang pakikianib sa atin ay hindi isang transaksyon, kundi tungkulin. Ito ang ambag niya sa pagwawaksi ng luma at bulok na pulitikang ugat ng gutom, paghihirap, at pagkamatay ng maraming Pilipino. Malinaw sa kanya kung gaano kalaki ang nakataya sa susunod na halalan, at walang-alinlangan niyang ipinapahiram sa atin ang kanyang lakas upang siguruhing sa Mayo, magwawagi ang pamahalaang bago, matino, mahusay, at makatao.“
(It’s clear in our discussions where Attorney Sonny Matula’s heart lies. For him, joining forces with us is not a transaction but a duty. This is his contribution to ending the old and rotten politics that is at the root of the hunger, suffering, and death of many Filipinos. It’s clear to him how much is at stake in the next elections, and he did not hesitate to lend us his strength to ensure that in May, a new, upright, competent, and humane government will win.)
Sources told Rappler earlier that Robredo was in talks with Matula and lawyer Neri Colmenares for the 12th spot. Robredo also said earlier that she was considering four to five names for the last spot and that she wanted someone on her slate to represent the marginalized sector.
‘We will not fail you’
Matula, who filed his candidacy as an independent, said in a statement that he and the coalitions backing him are grateful to Robredo.
“Nagagalak po ako, sampu ng mga pinuno at kasapi ng Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni #ALL4Leni, Nagkaisa Labor Coaltion, 1Sambayan at Federation of Free Workers sa tiwalang ipinagkaloob ni VP Leni. Di ka namin bibiguin,” the senatorial aspirant said.
(I am happy, along with the members of the Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni #ALL4Leni, Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, 1Sambayan, and Federation of Free Workers, with the trust VP Leni has given us. We will not fail you.)
Matula added that his inclusion in Robredo’s slate signifies the presidential aspirant’s commitment to the labor sector. “Ikinararangal ko po ang mapabilang sa mga kandidatong senador na ineendorso ni VP Leni. Ito ay tanda na seryoso si VP Leni na bitbitin at isulong ang laban ng manggagawa at ng batayang sektor sa darating na halalan,” Matula said.
(I am honored to be included in the list of senatorial aspirants endorsed by VP Leni. This is the sign that VP Leni is serious to push for labor rights in the coming elections.)
Matula – president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and chairperson of the NAGKAISA Labor Coalition – is running for senator for the second time. In 2019, he placed 50th among senatorial candidates, running under the Labor Wins coalition that fielded labor leaders in the 2019 Senate race.
Matula has been working as a legal counsel for laborers and unionists for 20 years. He served as commissioner for the labor sector of the Social Security System from 2006 to 2010, and as executive director of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission from 2001 to 2002.
The FFW supported Robredo’s vice presidential run in 2016. FFW is also part of the labor coalition that had pledged to back Robredo’s presidential bid.
In an online event on Wednesday, the Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni campaigned for the inclusion of Matula in Robredo’s Senate slate. The alliance, which has 350,000 members, vowed to deliver two million votes for Robredo in 2022.
The alliance will also launch the “Piso Para Kay VP Leni” campaign, which seeks to collect one peso from each of their members to help fund Robredo’s campaign. During the event, Matula also shared his five-point agenda:
- Ending contractualization
- Increase in minimum wage
- Ending impunity; giving justice to slain labor leaders under the Duterte administration
- Universal health care and strengthening of the public health care system
- Employment guarantee.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this report, quoting from the OVP’s statement, said Sonny Matula was with the Labor Party Philippines. The OVP corrected itself to say he filed his candidacy as an independent.