TAGUM CITY — Labor union group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) lashed out at Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte over his offhanded statement Thursday, February 10, that seemingly ‘threatened’ labor unions from going against his policies when he becomes president.
For asking them to stop organizing labor unions lest all of them get killed, KMU described Duterte’s words as “irresponsible and disrespectful to the workers,” said Joel Maglunsod, the group’s vice president for Mindanao.
“We need to remind Mayor Duterte of the supremacy of the Constitution, as he has repeatedly invoked earlier to defend, particularly Article 13, Sec. 3, that the State shall afford protection to labor, including the right to organize and freedom of association. That is a right we too will defend vigorously, even to the death,” Maglunsod said.
During the kick-off of his presidential campaign in Tondo, Manila on Wednesday, February 10, a part of Duterte’s speech on inviting foreign companies to invest in the Philippines stirred up controversy among labor groups.
“….Kayong mga KMU, medyo pigilan na muna ninyo ang mga labor unions. Ako na ang nakikiusap sa inyo. Magkasama tayo sa ideolohiya. Wag ninyong gawin iyan. Kasi sisirain mo ang administrasyon ko. Kapag ginawa ninyo iyan, patayin ko kayong lahat. Ang solusyon ditto, patayan na,” said the tough talking mayor.
Be respectful to the labor movement, Duterte told
Elmer Labog, KMU chairperson, said Duterte “should be respectful of the labor movement, which has fought for improvements in workers’ conditions.”
Labog recalled how Duterte has been supportive to KMU’s campaign in Davao region for workers’ higher wages, benefits and the call to end job contractualization.
“We ask this in recognition of pro-worker items in his platform; we even hailed his statements against contractualization right after he declared his candidacy. We ask this to give him room to change his mind, reverse his statement, and stand against greedy capitalists, not workers’ unions,” Labog urged Duterte.
Duterte camp: it was taken out of context
The presidential candidate, who is making rounds in the island of Luzon to meet his supporters outside Davao, is yet to clarify his statement that irked labor groups.
But the head of his media group, Peter Laviña, pointed out that his words were “taken out of context” and that Duterte regrets to have uttered such.
Laviña explained that Duterte was “merely asking for the labor group to give him a chance to invite capital and help develop economic zones that will eventually create jobs.”
“Duterte is a lawyer and is fully aware of the labor’s right organize, freely redress their grievances and have a share of the fruits of their toil,” Laviña added.
Whether it was taken out of context or not, KMU said Duterte should focus on national industrialization through a genuine agrarian reform program, which the group claims to be crucial steps towards a “people-centered development.” (davaotoday.com)