The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) is dismayed, but not surprised over the sudden removal of Joel Maglunsod from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Duterte’s ascription of the workers strikes and collective actions in different parts of the country to then Usec. Maglunsod is a direct affront to the intelligence of struggling workers. The failure of his government to provide decent wage and to end the deep-seated contractualization, amidst soaring prices are more than enough engine to fuel protests with or without Usec. Joel Maglunsod.
More than placing blame on him, firing Maglunsod in a military gathering is like providing soldiers a cue to unhampered attacks on workers strikes and protests that they (AFP and Duterte) concocted as part of destabilization plot. This move will further embolden not just the soldiers but capitalists to undermine what’s remaining of workers’ rights.
Then Usec. Joel Maglunsod was no hero. He has his share of weaknesses and shortcomings, but he has restored a great amount of trust to the Department of Labor and Employment which the majority of workers called for a long time, `Department of Employers’. By removing him from office and putting the blame on him for the unrest and strikes of workers, which this government considers as part of a destabilization plot instead of a legitimate exercise of workers’ rights, the Duterte regime has reverted back the DOLE onto a seat of angry protests. DOLE returned to what it was like before, during the previous administrations, where there was not even a faint of trust and faith, but a place that workers and trade unions go, simply because they are compelled by law and to reclaim their legally guaranteed rights.
We have witnessed then Usec. Joel Maglunsod, Ka Jomag to many, mediating and facilitating sessions of workers complaining, unmindful of whether or not it was weekend or nighttime bringing some hopes and smiles to workers long-exploited in their companies. We have seen how he embraced the highly flawed DO 174, and criticized for that, as DO 174 required inspections and findings of Labor-only contracting practices by many companies and corporations could lead to workers’ regularization. It wasn’t enough, as regularization remains on paper, simply an announcement of numbers, and companies can cheat on inspection because they are informed beforehand, but Ka Jomag sticked to his obligation as a public servant. We’ve seen `Ka Jomag’ skip breakfast, lunch and dinner — as if he was still a fulltime labor leader — in the line of duty, because throngs of workers come to DOLE’s office un-announced or without appointment. He did not like to keep them waiting. No one that CTUHR knows had done that before.
Now that the Duterte regime is unleashing multi-faceted attacks on workers’ right to organize, to collective bargaining and to strike and using the communist hysteria to demonize the struggling workers and unions, the dismissal of a labor leader in the government, is hardly surprising.
We delight however, in the knowledge that various trade union centers considers his dismissal wrongful, blunder and loss of this administration and welcome him back into the bosom of the labor movement. The need and space for persons like Ka Jomag in the workers movement is urgent and vast.###