A COALITION of over 40 of the biggest labor groups in the country said their New Year’s wish for President Duterte is for him not to take his governance as a joke and instead perform his functions seriously and be a dependable leader.
The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition issued the statement in the wake of criticisms hounding the President over his recent remarks on his confession to a priest that he abused his own maid when he was young and his new tirades against the Catholic Church, including calling the Holy Trinity doctrine “silly.”
Nagkaisa also advised Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo to tell the President that “his jokes are no longer jokes” but “statements downgrading women and mocking religious beliefs offensive to Catholics and other Christians.”
“The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, the broadest alliance of trade unions and workers associations in the country, calls on Secretary Panelo to tell President Rodrigo Duterte to take governance not as a joke but with with some seriousness. It will be unfortunate if his administration will look like as if it is a ‘Joker’ administration. In a Batman movie, Joker was a psychopathic mass murderer with a sadistic sense of humor,” Nagkaisa Chairman and Federation of Free Workers President Jose Sonny G. Matula said in a statement. “We call on Duterte to be a dependable leader. To make regular jobs as the norm not as joke.”
Instead of making “offensive and unproductive jokes,” Nagkaisa urged the President to use his “residual power” to persuade the Senate to expedite the passage of SB 1826 or the proposed legislation strengthening the right to security of tenure and ending endo, the catch-all term for work arrangements that circumvent the norm of regularizing workers who make the cut after their six-month probationary period.
“We call also for higher penalty for violation on the prohibition on ‘labor-only’ contracting and other abusive forms of contractualization. Otherwise, his election promise will become a joke. Other than regularizing the employees, he ought to highlight that the existing law [Art. 303 of Labor Code] provides fines for violation of prohibited acts which ranges from a dismal P1,000 to P10,000 only,” Matula said.
The House of Representatives has already passed the counterpart bill, HB 6908 in January 2018, sponsored by Akbayan and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Party-List.
“Duterte had already certified SB 1826 as urgent but it appears the Senate is taking his certification as a joke. The senators are foot-dragging to delay its passage,” he said.
The coalition also said Panelo’s explanation that the “anecdotes” were only jokes or “inimitable allegorical” or “hyperbole” were “specious and hollow.”
Matula added, “We see these alleged jokes as not at all laughable.” Nagkaisa also noted that although the “laughable anecdote” of the President on the abuse of maid to highlight the “sexual abuse” on him of a priest can no longer be considered a crime as this was covered by prescription—having happened many years ago—the President should still “not flaunt it with alacrity.”
“As the country enters 2019, we wish Duterte to make governance not as a joke but respectfully urge him to perform his official functions in accord with his oath of office, that is: “preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation.” - Bernadette D. Nicolas