Never has a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) official been unanimously hailed and defended by the labor movement as Joel Maglunsod.
As when they issued a joint manifesto against labor-only contracting last year and jointly commemorated International Labor Day in May 1 this year, the country’s major labor groups were again united, this time in defending the official they fondly call “JoMag”.
They said President Rodrigo Duterte made a mistake when he fired Maglunsod.
The last prominent Leftist in the Rodrigo Duterte regime was unceremoniously fired by President Rodrigo Duterte in a speech before soldiers in Camp Sumuroy in Catarman, Northern Samar Tuesday, October 2.
“[Si] Joel Maglunsod, pinaalis ko. Pinagbigyan ko sila noong bago ako kasi gusto ko nandoon sila sa opisina, Joel Maglunsod, sila lahat,” Duterte said, adding the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) that Maglunsod served as vice president for Mindanao and national secretary general is “paralyzing the economy” with labor strikes.
The labor movement, however, defended Maglunsod once again.
“Maglunsod has worked for the mass inspection of violations on labor only contracting and other labor standards and occupational health and safety violations that resulted in favorable orders and decisions. Workers are eager to welcome back Ka Jomag in the picket-lines and marches and take part in the growing workers’ movement against Duterte’s anti-worker and tyrannical rule,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.
Nagkakaisa Labor Coalition’s Rene Magtubo for his part said “President Duterte has made a major mistake in dismissing the services of Usec Jomag at the DOLE only to heed the advice of the military and anti-worker elements of his administration.”
“In his short stint as undersecretary of labor for industrial relations, he 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 office in Intramuros,” Magtubo added.
The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) for its part said it was wrong for Duterte to fire Maglunsod over the escalating labor unrest in the country, adding the official was labor’s closest ally in the DOLE.
“Ironically, the labor unrest now spooking employers and even the military was largely caused by Mr. Duterte’s failure to live up to his promise of ending contractualization,” Sentro leader Josua Mata said.
“Obviously, Usec JoeMag is being sacrificed to prop up the sagging image of Mr. Duterte,” Mata added.
Even the Association of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) hailed Maglunsod’s achievements sa labor undersecretary.
“Jomag was always ready to listen and work out solutions to workers in trouble with their employers,” ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.
“Jomag was the key DOLE official in helping move the very important security of tenure bill. He was also a key DOLE official in regularizing thousands of ‘endo’ (contractual) workers become regular workers,” Tanjusay explained.
Maglunsod, along with former social work and development secretary Judy Taguiwalo, agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano, anti-poverty commission lead convenor Liza Maza, and urban poor commission chairperson Terry Ridon were known progressives appointed to high positions in the Duterte Cabinet when he won the presidency in 2016.
He was a KMU member in Davao City who rose to become its chapter president eventually becoming its national secretary general for many years. Prior to being appointed to the DOLE, he was KMU vice president for political and external affairs.
He also served as Anakpawis Representative to Congress where he once grabbed news headlines when refused entry through the members’ gate because the guards saw him alight from a jeepney.
KMU’s Labog said that workers are eager to welcome back Ka Jomag in the picket-lines and marches and take part in the growing workers’ movement against Duterte’s anti-worker and tyrannical rule.
Both Maglunsod and the DOLE have yet to reply to Kodao’s request for statements. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)