Labor in the Philippines took a giant leap forward this week when federations nationwide banded together to work for a better life for marginalized sectors. “We do not have to wait for government to do it for us, we will do it ourselves,” declared former Senator Ernesto Herrera. He is the recognized dean of Philippine labor. The great leap forward is to change the attitude of workers they need not be at the mercy of government policies inimical to labor.
The epigram a giant leap comes from the words of Neil Armstrong, the first man who landed on the moon, “One small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind.”
At the well-attended meeting held at the Manila Yacht Club last Friday the federations and groups that comprise our coalition, it was decided unanimously:
Firstly, to form the executive committee to be called the Executive Board of Bayanko that shall decide and direct the actions of the coalition toward constitutional reform.
Secondly, that former Senator Ernesto Herrera, president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, be the chairman of the Board.
Thirdly, that former Chief Justice Reynato Puno be invited to form part of the Board as chairman emeritus, an invitation I am pleased to announce the CJ has gladly accepted after I spoke to him.
The Executive Board of Bayanko, the crowdsourcing movement for constitutional reform now composes the following:
Ernesto Herrera, President, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines; Leonardo Montemayor, President, Federation of Free Farmers; Ambassador Roy Seneres, Founder, OFW Family Club; Carmen N. Pedrosa, Founder, Bayanko; Heherson Alvarez, former Senator of the Republic; Ruben Torres, Vice-President, TUCP;
Milagros C. Ogalinda, Secretary-General, National Alliance of Teachers & Office Workers; Susanita Tesiorna, President, Alliance of Workers in the Informal Economy/Sector (ALLWIES); Florencia P. Cabatingan, Chairperson, Development Action for Women; Rodolfo M. Capoquian, National President, Obrero Pilipino; David Diwa, President, National Labor Union; Angelita D. Senorin, President, Voice of the Callcenter Industry (VOICE); Jesus B. Villamor, President, Lakas sa Industriya ng Kapatirang Haligi ng Alyansa (LIKHA); and Jose B. Alejandrino, Adviser, Bayanko.
The groups from the marginalized sectors of the Philippines number in the millions that could well change the political landscape in the country.
In the organizational meeting, Herrera announced an extensive program of education and information down to the grass roots level to complement what Bayanko is doing in the social media. Memoranda of agreements were signed for cooperation among the groups and their allies on three important areas of concern – climate change, migrant workers and drugs. Former Sen. Alvarez explained why climate change must be taken up as a battle cry of workers.
A major segment of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines is also interested in joining the movement to engage the youth.
He reminded those present that labor is second only to the breadth of government because of the warm bodies that the federations can summon if needed.
The working partnership between the marginal sectors’ federations and Bayanko, the crowdsourcing movement for constitutional reform, is anchored on the premise that labor has been the victim of a flawed constitution.
“Labor will work towards empowerment under our basic law,” Herrera added.
It is organized into regional councils that can be tapped to reach as many workers as possible.
He also noted the importance of more women to be active in politics. This is true in other countries around the world. There are five women in the 15 members of the Executive Board.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines is forging partnerships with labor groups in other countries. At present, it is in talks with their counterparts in Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Singapore.
“We seek not just to protect workers under labor laws of host countries, but also to open up solutions and pursue trade and industry initiatives wherever these can be developed. This is in line with our programs to generate employment opportunities for Filipino workers. They need not have to go abroad if the jobs are available right here,” he said.
Unions must not confine itself to seeking equal footing under labor laws. It must also enable workers to share in the fruits of their labor and share in the growth of the economy. “Only then can there be lasting peace in our community,” he added. “What is at stake is not just for the majority but also for the survival of the nation.”
Herrera stressed, “The TUCP and its affiliated groups stand fully behind Bayanko in its crusade for constitutional reform towards a parliamentary federal form of government to include the marginalized sectors of society, especially the workers, farmers, women and the youth, in the decision-making process and nation-building. We therefore urge President Aquino and Congress to heed our request for change. Only by working together towards a common goal can we bring unity and progress to the country.”
The election of the Executive Board sums up discussions between Bayanko as a non-partisan, crowdsourcing movement and the labor movement of the Philippines in their common desire for good government.
Although we hear plenty of news about the fastest growing economy of the Philippines, we hear little, if at all, from mainstream media of the growing poverty of Filipinos which is described as among the highest in the region.
The political system engendered by the present constitution has increased poverty at the same time there is grand corruption in all segments of government.
The problem is a weak labor movement with no power in the making of economic policies of government. It is not difficult to envision a labor party growing out of a strengthened trade union movement.
With business and labor working with Bayanko for a new Constitution, TUCP seeks more humanistic values as points of cooperation and coordination for a strong and unified country. This, I believe is the step forward despite present difficulties. “There is no future for the country unless this cooperation towards a new system of politics and government is forged between the different sectors of business and labor,” Herrera said. “Filipinos must be educated to believe in themselves. They can overcome the country’s problems if they unite in a common cause. The TUCP and its federations pledge their partnership for a new Constitution for a new country.”
– See more at: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2015/05/10/1453123/giant-leap-labor#sthash.9FU2UECb.dpufCarmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star)
– See more at: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2015/05/10/1453123/giant-leap-labor#sthash.9FU2UECb.dpuf