Malacañang on Wednesday linked the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod to workers’ strikes that the chief executive deemed bad for the economy.
Maglunsod was once a vice chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) which Duterte scored in a speech in Catarman, Northern Samar on Tuesday for leading strikes that “will paralyze the economy.”
It was also in the same event where he announced that he decided to fire Maglunsod.
“He [Duterte] thinks that strikes are unproductive and of course doon po ang konteksto na sinabi nya na tatanggalin si Undersecretary Joel,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
Roque said he had no knowledge whether the firing has something to do with the “Red October” ouster plot against the President.
The military has said the Red October plot was hatched by the Communist Party of the Philippines, whose political arm, the National Democratic Front, endorsed the appointment of left-leaning personalities including Maglunsod to some government posts after Duterte assumed office in June 2016.
“Wala akong alam. Only the President can say that because he has access to information that only he has access to,” Roque said.
Maglunsod told GMA News Online that he was caught off guard by the President’s announcement. He also wants to seek an audience with Duterte to know more about the President’s decision.
Reacting to the Duterte’s announcement, KMU said the firing was part of the government’s crackdown against the “growing workers’ movement.”
“We strongly condemn Duterte for firing Maglunsod. This is part of his crackdown against the labor movement that leads the growing strikes and protests against Duterte’s failed promise to end contractualization and to implement a significant wage hike amidst the record high inflation,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.
KMU refuted claims that Maglunsod was responsible for the growing number of workers’ strikes under the Duterte administration.
The group said the more than 130 notices of strikes filed before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board are “reflection of the worsening state of Filipino workers under Duterte.”
“Majority of growing number of strikes are results of collective bargaining deadlocks, unfair labor practices, non-implementation of regularization orders, union busting, illegal lay-offs, minimum wage violations, non-compliance of labor standards, illegal lock-outs and closures. The unrest in the labor front is bound to escalate as Duterte continue to tolerate and connive with capitalists in attacking workers’ rights,” Labog said.
“Firing the sole Labor official that has genuinely addressed workers’ concerns proves that Duterte has no intention to fulfill his promise of ending contractualization and implementing a national minimum wage.”
Roque clarified there will be no crackdown on KMU leaders and said Duterte is only targeting illegal strikes.
“I think what he is saying is he will crackdown on illegal strikes kasi meron pong mga proseso na dapat pagdaanan bago mag strike,” the Palace official said.
Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition spokesperson Rene Magtubo said Maglunsod was a “great loss” to the Department of Labor and Employment.
Magtubo said Maglunsod has bridged the “gap of trust” between organized labor and the department by personally acting on complaints and facing mass actions of workers at the DOLE main office in Intramuros, Manila.
“He has also painstakingly conducted dialogues between employers and organized labor relaying to them the department’s effort on enforcing laws and regulations pertaining to labor contracting with the end in view of respecting the rights of both the workers and employers,” the labor leader added.
Magtubo said Duterte has made a “major mistake” in dismissing Magtubo “only to heed the advice of the military and anti-worker elements of his administration.” —NB, GMA News