On October 11, 1988, labor activist Oscar Bantayan, then national council member of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), was gunned down by suspected state forces.
He remained a staunch defender of workers’ rights at a time when political repression swept the country. He was relentless in calling to end contractualization, and increase the national minimum wage, among others. He was in picket lines with striking workers fighting for regularization, and a source of motivation for labor leaders, factory workers, unions, and communities.
His death was greatly felt by the labor movement and the people, but his life of service inspired others to follow the same path.
Unbowed like Oscar Bantayan, the Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, Inc. vows to champion workers’ rights and welfare even in dire situations. We also urge our fellow community workers and workers’ rights advocate to become unceasing in protecting and promoting pro-people labor laws and policies.
The Workers’ Watch San Carlos conducted their first Gender and Development (GAD) Training last October 3, 2021 at the Margarette Business Hotel in Maramag, Bukidnon.
Workers’ Watch Project Manager Jeo Olar discussed gender issues by debunking imposed gender roles, analysing the historical context and current socio-political conditions that reinforce gender stereotypes, understanding laws that seek to protect individuals against gender discrimination and harassment, and pushing for gender emancipation.
According to the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), around 50 cases of violence against women and children were reported every day in 2020, while around 58 transgender and non-binary individuals were killed in the country from 2008 to September 2020 based on the data of Trans Murder Monitoring Report of Transgender Europe.
In addition, data from IBON Foundation revealed that the employment rate among women fell to 15.7 million in 2018 from 16 million in 2016, and disparity in the average real daily basic pay (ADBP) continues. In fact, women in manufacturing industries usually earn Php 374.00, whilst men earn Php 406.00.
The participants also shared their experiences and manifestations.
“Now I know about the laws which promote and protect women’s rights. It will be easier for us to protect ourselves against discrimination, harassment, and even assault,” said Bae Lorena Aboy, Workers’ Watch San Carlos Finance Manager.
Datu Rex Laranio, Workers’ Watch San Carlos Vice Chairman and Secretary of their tribal council, urged his fellow participants to put into practice the knowledge they have acquired during GAD Training.
“Nothing will change if we don’t practice what we learned. We can’t also put it into practice unless we have the will to do so. Therefore, we must strive to also raise the awareness of others. We could better promote and protect our rights if the people around us do the same,” Datu Laranio manifested, following his questions on ways to promote equality.
“The key to a better society is loving and respecting one another. Genuine peace and social justice can only be realized if we understood and value the dignity of everyone,” said Olar.
Right after the said training, a medical mission followed. The participants received hygiene kits and vitamins. #
The Workers’ Watch Project held its 1st Mindanao-wide Paralegal Training last September 28 to September 30 that aimed to train and equip workers’ support group on basic knowledge on paralegal and Philippine legal justice system.
Resource persons from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Workers’ Watch partner organizations were invited to give their valuable insights and knowledge on the said training.
CHR XI Special Investigator III Jose Mari Fabiaña elaborated the nature and importance of human rights, while CHR Supervising Training Specialist Melchor Cayabyab highlighted the “dignity” as the root of human rights.
Mr. Cayabyab had also expressed that activism is a form of exercising our rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
Further, NLDFI in-house lawyer Atty. Napoleon Sango and representative from the Office of Councilor Pamela Librado-Morata, Atty. Darwin Tenaja, discussed the Philippine legal systems and labor legislations in the country.
They also shared their experiences in dealing with labor cases and how paralegals helped them won those cases.
Women leaders from Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) Rochelle Porras, NLDFI Executive Director Emma Ricaforte, and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) X Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (RTIPC) member Teresita Hadman, tackled the Philippine workers situation amidst CoViD-19 health hazard, and the significance of paralegal work and metalegal remedies in protecting and promoting workers’ rights.
Cheryl Daytec-Yañgot, The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)-Geneva Labor Attaché, sent a video message of encouragement to all the participants in upholding and valuing human rights.
“The cases of human rights violations in the country have escalated amidst the CoViD-19 pandemic. 10.4 million Filipino people are now either unemployed and underemployed further intensifying the long-drawn-out poverty and hunger. This kind of training helps us understand our constitutional rights, protects the interests of the people. The paralegal training imparts knowledge and skills to ensure that our rights are not violated,” said Jeo Olar, the Workers’ Watch Project Manager.
Moreover, the Workers’ Watch Project is set to hold a symposium on Business and Human Rights this coming October 20 to October 21. This symposium aims to mainstream business and human rights in the enterprise level. #
The Workers’ Watch Project successfully held the 1st Mindanao-wide Labor Standard Training (LST) last September 13 to September 15, 2021 at Bangkal, Davao City.
The said training aimed to discuss and understand the workers’ situation in the Philippines, work and International Labour Organization (ILO) supervisory mechanisms, General Labour Standards (GLS), Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS), issues on termination, and legal remedies in cases of violations and non-compliance.
Jeo Olar, Workers’ Watch Project Manager, emphasized the urgency and significance of the LST in order for the workers to better protect and promote their rights especially amid the CoViD-19 pandemic.
“Even though Mindanao is considered as the country’s food basket, being the source of most of our export agricultural products, the workers’ condition is dire in these so-called critical industries of plantations, mining, and canning. The workers are being illegally terminated, unions are busted, mandatory benefits are not given, and due process is not followed, among others,” said Olar, further highlighting that these violations worsened during the pandemic.
“Despite their years of service yet, they still remain contractual,” she added.
Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, Inc. (NLDFI) Executive Director Emma Ricaforte encouraged the participants and staff to continue participating in these kinds of training and to conduct these in their respective centers.
“Training, such as the labor standard, is crucial for the workers to understand their current working condition and the actions that must be taken in cases of violations, which is why we must also keep on conducting these kinds of training so we could reach far and wide. Hopefully, we could engage more workers in countless plantations, mining corporations, and canning companies,” Ricaforte said.
The participants had shared the training’s relevance as they recalled their own experiences. Most of them were illegally terminated and did not receive any benefits from their company.
In addition, they also stated that they lacked knowledge on wage policies, benefits, safety and health standards, and legal remedies which led to their exploitation.
“We have better understanding of our rights as workers like the benefits that we should receive and the salary computations. It really helped us,” Ryan Illut said, a participant from Region 13.
Further, the speakers stressed out the necessity to use their training’s insights, urging the participants to conduct similar activities, and raise awareness among their fellow workers.
Aside from the LST, the Workers’ Watch Project will conduct a Paralegal Training this September 28 to September 30, 2021 to extend their knowledge on labor policies and legal procedures when dealing with labor cases.
We stand with the Davao United Delivery Riders Association Inc. (DUDRAI) members, who held a mass protest yesterday, 16th of July 2021, at the Freedom Park, Davao City, calling for the accountability of the Food Panda Management on unjust labor practices of the said company.
According to the DUDRAI, the Food Panda Management has deducted their earnings for about 280 pesos for their supposed health insurance benefit. However, some members testified that they could not avail of the said benefits because the management did not pay for their health insurance contribution. Apart from this explicit anomaly, food riders are also outraging for the miscomputation of their earnings. With a long-distance ride, they only receive a minimal amount.
Moreover, members who joined the protest received messages from the management for a 10-year suspension in violation of their Freelance Agreement.
The move of the Food Panda Management constitutes significant violations of the labor rights of its employees:
1. The prevalent contractualization within the company through its Freelance Agreement hinders employees from being regularized.
2. The suspension of the protesting employees violates their constitutional rights to self-organize, peaceful assembly, and freedom of speech.
3. Unlawful deductions of their earnings.
With all these violations, Food Panda Management remained calloused to the call of its workers.
As an institution that advocates labor rights, we are greatly dismayed with Food Panda Management. We are calling the management to strictly abide by the labor laws. We likewise call on the local government unit of Davao City, Department of Labor and Employment, and Congress to act on this oppressive and exploitative scheme of the involved company and other businesses employing the same scheme. We maintain that workers’ rights must always be upheld, without them we have nothing. #
Last April 11, the Workers Watch- Northern Mindanao has established its second Workers’ Watch Formation in Aposkahoy, Claveria, Misamis Oriental.
The formation consists of 25 members, including four elected officers of the Workers’ Watch, the chairperson, the vice-chairperson, the secretary, and the treasurer. First, Ms. Geneza V. Cuevas, a purok leader, is elected as the chairperson of the formation. Followed by, Mr. Abellion H. Sagabal, a Higaonon leader, is selected as vice-chairperson. Finally, the elected secretary and treasurer are Ms. ReyMabel Banda and Ms. Violeta Silawan, both women leaders. Thus, most of the attendees and members of the formation are women who are members of the Higaonon tribe.
Barangay Aposkahoy is one of the remote areas of Claveria, the locations of the Del Monte pineapple and DOLE banana plantations. Workers of these plantations are mostly community members of Aposkahoy.
The formation has tied with their Constitution and By-Laws which the general mandate is to protect and serve the interest of their community, especially when labor-related violations and abuses happen in their jurisdictions.
According to Ms. Tita Hadman, the area coordinator of the WWP-NMR, medical missions and labor clinics will be conducted in the area soon as the community restriction eases. The labor clinic is a free-legal consultation on labor-related matters provided by the Workers’ Watch Project.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 13 favor the establishment of workers’ watch formations in the region.
Last March 23, the Workers’ Watch Project (WWP) Team had paid a courtesy meeting with the regional offices of CHR 13 and DOLE 13. During dialogues, both offices had shared their constructive intentions in supporting the project. According to the CHR 13, this project would help them mainstream the importance of respecting and valuing human rights at the enterprise level, wherein mostly workers’ rights violations happen. Atty. Ralphmar Oñez, the lawyer of CHR 13, utters that they have difficulties with information dissemination especially in far-flung areas. Collaborating with the Workers’ Watch, they could build an alliance that would help them publicize the essence of human rights, especially in mining communities. With the help of the formation, the CHR could now easily collate data of human rights violations and immediately respond to all the alleged reports of human rights abuses in the region. The agency offers its services to the project to serve its mandate as a protector and advocate of human rights. The CHR 13 also expressed their gratitude towards the WWP for having them as a partner agency.
The DOLE 13 expresses their positive opinions on the project; however, they could not immediately call for a meeting to the business industry in the region. Primarily, the business sector barely responds to the call, especially when labour rights issues are on the topic. According to Ma’am Chona Mantilla, the regional director of DOLE 13, they are the mediator of the workers and the employers. They provide avenues for the complaints of both sectors that no side is compromised. For DOLE 13, the project would help them serve their principle and mandate as the principal agency dealing with labour rights. The director also provided list of areas in the region that they could hardly reach for services. These areas are also mostly mining communities. With the help of the formation, they could also gather data and reports on labour issues and complaints within these communities.
The Workers’ Watch Region 13 targeted workers’ communities in mining and palm oil plants areas wherein records of labour rights violations are high. The CARAGA (13) region is the mining and palm oil capital of Mindanao. It is a fact that the region has been facing environmental dilemmas due to excessive and unsustainable mining and palm oil productions. Also, numerous labour rights violations are drastically increasing based on the collected data of the WWP 13.
On the following day, March 24, the WWP team visited the targeted barangays for the project implementation- barangays of Taganito and Urbiztondo, Claver, Surigao del Norte. Officials of these barangays were welcoming on the said project. However, they were seeking the official memorandum from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) endorsing the project to their community. As for them, they are still under the DILG. However, the WWP team had explained that the primary partner agencies of this project are the DOLE and CHR as this project aims to mainstream human rights in the business industry.
Today, the WWP 13 is still working and coordinating with its partner government agencies and workers’ communities to establish workers’ watch formations in the region.
Last 21st February 2021, the Northern Mindanao Centre of the Workers’ Watch Project has established its first Workers’ Watch Formation at San Nicolas, Don Carlos, Bukidnon.
28 individuals, including workers of Davao Agriventures Corporation (DAVCO), community leaders of San Nicolas, youth leaders, and barangay health workers, instituted their first Workers’ Watch Formation. Women in the community and their children were also present during the establishment following the necessary health protocols in conducting meetings. The Formation will be the forefront in defending their rights as labourers when, for an instance, labour violations within their community persist.
Prior to the launch of the formation, several meetings and discussions about the project were held in the community. Kolokabildos or social dialogues with the workers and community leaders of Don Carlos, as part of the activities of the project, made the importance of the formation of the Workers’ Watch to be realized by the community. Hence, the formation was finally established.
The San Nicolas’ Workers’ Watch Formation was legalized and banded with Constitution and By-Laws as their fundamental principles. As stated to their constitution Article 1 (Name and Purpose), the formation shall be named as Workers’ Watch Don Carlos Chapter with a purpose of helping workers’ communities respond effectively and sustainably to human rights and labor rights situation in the area. It aims to capacitate its members in extending legal, psychosocial, and health services to its beneficiaries.
The formation has also elected their first set of officers which Mr. Vladimier Gulmatico was elected as the Chairman, Mr. Romeo Galera as Vice-Chairman, Ms. Aida Destacamento as Secretary General, and Ms. Lorena Aboy as their Finance Officer.
“With this formation, it is only now that we encounter such project that extends such assistance and services to our community” Mr. Vladimier Gulmatico, the chairman of the newly established workers’ watch formation, said.
In the past weeks, the Workers’ Watch Project executives had visited its different centers in Mindanao to consolidate its area coordinators regarding the progress of their regional actions for the implementation of the program. As local community quarantine has been eased, they have also had courtesy meetings with the Regional and Provincial Directors of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Last September 1, the Project Manager of WWP- Ms. May Ann Artil, the executive Director of the Nonoy Librado Development Foundation- Ms. Emma Ricaforte, and with the Area Coordinator of Northern Mindanao Center had a chance to talk with Region 10 DOLE Director Atty. Joffrey Suyao on the possible coordination of the said project. Director Suyao had a positive response to the project. He also gave suggestions on how the project will be implemented in the said region.
Also last September 18 and 22, the WWP executives paid a visit to its centers in SOCCKSARGEN and Davao de Oro. They also met the Provincial Director of DOLE Davo de Oro Neil Allan Baban and Region 12 DOLE Director Raymundo Agravante. The meeting with the DOLE directors ended with positive coordination on the implementation of the project. The launching of all planned activities in the different area centers was postponed due to the COVID19 pandemic scare. It is expected that the full launch of the program will be conducted in 2021.
No matter what tragedies or struggles affect our family, this day always reminds us that there is always a reason to unite. In the midst of a global pandemic, and of a more precarious environment to those espousing the beliefs of our deceased father, Erasto ‘Nonoy’ Librado, we who are loyal to his legacy will continue to plod on.
I know that it will always be Papa’s fervent wish to see reforms in our government… to see workers doing their jobs with dignity and their rights protected…. to see the underprivileged have more in the law because they have less in life. While still alive, my father would take me to picket lines, attending rallies with a throng of people I barely know. Back then, I did not understand why a union leader would choose to serve people when he also has problems of his own. I did not understand then why the sentiments of many workers would embolden him to actually take into heart a cause that would make him risk life and limb.
It took years for me to understand why he chose that less travelled path. For the people’s welfare is ultimately greater than the sum of all his personal aspirations. He became a councilor of this City (even for a short while prior to his death) because he believed laws could actually work for the people and that pushing for reforms in the economy and labor sector can spell out a huge difference in the lives of our ordinary citizens.
Nonoy not only taught all his three children the rudiments of living a life of service; he showed us further how to stand firm in our principles. A martial law survivor, he went through incarceration knowing fully well what he is standing up to. In that collective fight against tyranny and the abusive Marcos regime, he would remain a hero to us and to those who believed in hus cause.
We honor his death today and remember the man who was all a father, husband, labor leader, comrade, Filipino citizen and one worthy of emulation for his legacy and dedication to public service. May the Nonoy Librado Development Foundation continue his work— let us work in synergy to contribute to its growth and success, bearing in mind the sacrifices of a man who wished for the emancipation of workers through fair labor practices and decent working conditions.
As we also rise towards the challenge of battling this Covid-19 despite all the odds, let us all look forward to more better days and better conditions for work in the days to come.
Once again, my greatest salute to Ka Nonoy, who even in death keeps alive the fervor of compassionate service to the people. #