1 May 2019

Human rights lawyer and senatorial candidate Chel Diokno was endorsed by labor groups in a press conference announcing their slate of ‘Pro-Labor Candidates’ at Intramuros, Manila on Tuesday, the eve of Labor Day.
“Ako po ay nakikiisa sa Labor Vote at sa agenda ng Labor Vote,” Diokno said in his video message for the event.


Various groups led by Defend Job Philippines launched #LaborVote2019 earlier this year. Aside from endorsing the Pro-Labor Slate, the groups also led the signing of the Labor Agenda 2019 covenant, which included issues like ending contractualization; a national minimum wage; affordable and low prices; benefits for workers; occupational health and safety; the right to self-organization; OFW and migrant’s rights; child labor; trade union repression; and ending unfair trade agreements.


In his message for the event, Diokno expressed his commitment to the covenant and outlined his plans for the labor sector if elected to the Senate.
“Unang-una ang pagtatapos dito sa isyu ng kontraktwalisasyon. It’s time to put an ending to endo,” Diokno said. 


“Hindi rin po makatarungan itong nangyayari sa ating minimum wage. Kasi ang pag-set ng minimum wage on a regional basis, e parang nagkakaroon ng diskriminasyon. Yung pagtaas ng mga presyo ng bilihin, yan ay national naman. Pero ang pagtaas naman ng minimum wage, depende sa region,” he added.


Diokno added that the higher prices of goods can be traced to the excise tax imposed by the TRAIN Law, which he vowed to oppose.
Aside from legislation, Diokno also vowed to use Congressional oversight on some key labor issues such as workers’ benefits, especially for women.
“Dapat po mabalikan yan. Hindi lang naman yan issue ng batas, pati ang paggamit ng oversight function ng ating Senado, para makasiguro tayo na ang mga naisasabatas na mga benepisyo ay talagang ipapatupad at darating sa ating mga manggagawa,” he said.


“Isa pang problema na parang napapabayaan ng ating pamahalaan ang issue ng occupational health and safety,” Diokno said, adding that the Senate must review existing laws and regulations to see what needs to be fixed.


Diokno also emphasized respecting the right to self-organization not just in the private sector, but in the public sector as well.


“Ang right to self-organization ay isang napaka-basic na karapatan ng ating mga manggagawa. Kailangan po talaga babantayan natin yung right to self-organization hindi lang sa private sector, pati na rin sa public sector,” he said.


“Pagdating sa mga karapatan naman ng mga OFW natin at mga migrante, alam nyo, matagal nang problema ito e. Sana dumating yung araw na hindi na kinakailangan ng mga kapatid natin, na mga kapwa Pilipino ay lalabas pa sa ating bansa para makahanap lang ng trabaho,” he said, emphasizing the importance of protecting OFW and migrants’ rights.
Diokno also tackled the issue of child labor, which he noted is against both domestic and international law.


“Ang issue ng child labor ay talagang nakakabahala, nakakalungkot, at nakakagalit. Alam naman natin na hindi puwede yan, hindi lang sa ating mga domestic na mga batas, pati na sa international law. Pero tuloy-tuloy pa ring ang pang-aabuso sa ating kabataan. Kailangan itigil na yan,” he said.


The veteran human rights lawyer also vowed to fight trade union repression and unfair trade agreements.
“Ang pagkikitil sa ating mga trade union ay isa pang bagay na para bang pinapabayaan lang ng ating pamahalaan. Hindi lang ito issue ng kalayaan nating magsalita. Ito rin ay isyu ng right natin na nasa ating Saligang Batas to petition the government for redress of grievances, and also the right of association,” Diokno said.


“Ito ay mga basic at fundamental rights sa ating Bill of Rights ng Constitution, at dapat talaga ipaglalaban natin ito. Ako po’y ipagtatanggol ko ang ating trade union rights,” he said.
“I will oppose any kind of unfair trade agreement as I will oppose other types of agreements, both domestic and international, that are not in favor of our interest and the interest of the Filipino people,” he added.
Aside from Diokno, the groups also endorsed Otso Diretso candidates Florin Hilbay,  Samira Gutoc, and Erin Tañada. They also endorsed Neri Colmenares, Leody De Guzman, Sonny Matula, Ernesto Arellano, and Allan Montaño.


Diokno, however, noted that the underlying issue in the labor sector is still poverty, which he vowed to fight.
“Alam po ninyo, ang nagpapailalim talaga sa isyu ng ating mga manggagawa ay ang isyu ng poverty. At yun yung isang nakakabahalang problema dahil yan ang talagang isang di makatarungang nangyayari sa ating bayan,” Diokno said.


“Gagawin ko ang lahat ng kaya kong gawin para maayos itong napakalaking agwat ng ating mahihirap na nakakarami sa ating bayan, at yung kokonting mayayaman na hawak nila halos lahat ng kayamanan ng ating bayan,” he said.


“Panahon na po na magkaroon tayo ng isang makatarungan at makataong bayan, at makakaasa kayo na isusulong ko ito sa Senado,” Diokno said.
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