Department of Labor and Employment undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said he did not receive notice of his dismissal before President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement in a speech Tuesday in Catarman, Northern Samar.
“I was surprised, shocked even,” Maglunsod told Kodao, adding he only learned of the President’s statement when he opened his mobile phone after conducting two meetings Wednesday morning.
“Many journalists have sent me messages about PRRDs statement and that was how I learned about it,” Maglunsod said.
Duterte said he fired Maglunsod because of his association with the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) the President alleged was responsible for the upsurge in labor strikes throughout the country.
“[Si] Joel Maglunsod, pinaalis ko. Pinagbigyan ko sila noong bago ako kasi gusto ko nandoon sila sa opisina, Joel Maglunsod, sila lahat,” Duterte said.
Maglunsod said he immediately went back to the DOLE offices in Intramuros Wednesday afternoon to consult with labor and employment secretary Silvestre Bello III and other department officials.
“They too were surprised,” Maglunsod revealed.
Maglunsod said Bello asked him to “stay put” until Monday. “He told me he (Bello) will be able to know more in Monday when he meets the President during their Cabinet meeting,” Maglunsod said.
The beleaguered official also told Kodao that he called up special presidential assistant Christopher “Bong” Go to request for a meeting with Duterte.
“He said he will ask the President (about my request),” Maglunsod said.
Maglunsod, who also hails from Davao City, said he considered Duterte his friend but felt it would have been better for him if the President told him directly about his decision before the public announcement.
“But it is his prerogative as the President and appointing power,” Maglunsod said.
He added he is ready to leave his post.
“But I hold my head high. I can categorically say I did my best in performing DOLE’s mandate. I have been fair, even to the employers. I always told them that we only need to follow the law,” he said.
The country’s major labor federations, including the KMU, the Association of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition unanimously defended Maglunsod as the official who consistently “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.”
“I am grateful to the labor federations who expressed support. I have not had the chance to send them messages yet, but I thank them for validating my work as DOLE undersecretary,” Maglunsod said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)