“Anong karapatan niyang sabihin iyon tungkol sa amin. Wala siyang alam sa pang-araw-araw naming paghihirap. Subukan nga niyang gawin ang trabaho naming, kahit isang linggo lang!”says Jimmy, when asked of his reaction to Special Envoy to China Mon Tulfo’s remarks that Filipino construction workers are ‘lazy slowpokes.’

(“What right does he have to say that about us? He has no idea about our everyday struggles. I dare him to do our job even just for a week!”)

Jimmy, 47 years old, has been in the construction industry for 29 years now. He is from Tacloban, Leyte and had to leave home when he was 18 to find a job and help put food on their family’s table. For many years, he worked as a helper in different construction projects, from houses to high-rise buildings. 

He said one of the hardest tasks he got was when he was a helper, as he had to go back and forth to high floors, carrying heavy construction materials.  He has 4 children, 1 of whom is graduating from Senior High School. When asked where his son would study college, he said,“Usapan namin magtrabaho na muna siya. Mahirap talaga ang buhay ngayon. Hindi kakayanin ng pamilya naming ang gastusin para sa kolehiyo. Ako na lang ang nagtatrabaho para sa amin dahil nagkasakit sa puso ang asawa ko.”

(“We have agreed that he would have to work for now. Life is very hard now. We cannot afford to send him to college. I am the only one earning in our family because my wife has a heart problem.”)

“It’s very insensitive and cruel for a government official like Mr. Mon Tulfo to give such remarks about Filipino workers. Especially during a time like this, when the poor is faced with different kinds of crisis. Construction workers like Jimmy faces so many hardships – lack of job security, low wages and most of the time no benefits, and unsafe working conditions. They are one of the most overworked and exploited workers.” CTUHR Executive Director Daisy Arago avers. 

Arago added that Mon Tulfo is hurling these non-sense insults against Filipino workers to cover up the unfair and onerous deals that Duterte got the country into with Chinese government and contractors. “Who is Mr. Tulfo really serving? He’s a Philippine government official, but apparently his remarks bared his loyalty to China while shamelessly insulting the Filipino workers In a time where Filipinos are critical of Philippines being `given’ to China, those kind of remarks are the least that anyone would like to hear.”

For many weeks now, Mon Tulfo’s comment has been negated and criticized by many, including labor groups, DOLE Secretary Bello, Sec. Panelo and even his brother Raffy Tulfo. But the eldest Tulfo brother remains that there is nothing to apologize for, as he was just stating a ‘fact.’ In his most recent column, he even went as far as attacking workers who form unions and hold strikes. 

“It seems that Mr. Ramon Tulfo is unaware that to form a union is a basic right of workers. If we may help educate him, unions represent the legitimate demands of workers. They are essential in pushing for and gaining favorable working conditions and higher wages and benefits that the workers deserve,” Arago ended.###