by Gillian Jalosjos and Joellie Belle Badon | March 20, 2022
Representatives of the Silliman University Faculty Association (SUFA) and the Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) attended the Laban ng Masa consultation last February 10 that was organized by the Laban ng Masa for its #KasamaTayo program.
The Partido Lakas ng Masa Partylist and Alternatiba Partylist invited Silliman University (SU) because they wanted to know the situation of the institution. SUFA was also consulted because of their negotiations with the SU administration.
Karl James Villarmea, the Vice President of SUFA, said during the consultation, “Unresolved labor issues are too many and we felt that future presidents or the next president should be able to address this labor issue, tension, and the situation in a lot of our universities. In fact, all over the Philippines, [we] experience this kind of situation where there’s always deadlock when the faculty and admins negotiate. That’s also the case here in Silliman.”
Villarmea also mentioned the concern regarding the miscellaneous fees that are being paid by students and administrators not being transparent enough in terms of reporting expenses and sources of revenues.
SUFA is active in helping unions in other schools like the University of San Carlos. They raise concerns such as how universities and the educational systems, especially private institutions, are more concerned about profits and expense for members of the faculty instead of quality education.
Through this consultation, Sillimanians are contributing to the national dialogue and conversation about what everyone should do to strengthen the country and its democracy.
According to Villarmea, the party’s idea, intent, and commitment when it comes to these issues are admirable because they listen to sectors they believe should have a place in their platform.
Meanwhile, SUSG President Myka G. Reambonanza emphasized the importance of consultations as it is ideal for it to occur, not just for the student government or students but even for other sectors of society.
“It is important for running candidates to have a dialogue with the people firsthand to know their grievances and experiences so that whatever platform they present is not based on assumptions or opinions from a few people,” she added.
In an online forum on Peace and the Presidentiable regarding labor issues, presidential aspirant Leodegario “Ka Leody” De Guzman answered one of the participants’ questions: “As a candidate protesting for the laborers, what will he take as an urgent step to get rid of it? The contractualization and policy of the regional wage board regarding the minimum wage; how will he enforce the existence of the living wage law?”
He then replied, “Sa simula, ang immediate diyan ay iyong pagbuwag doon sa mga manpower agency para mawala na ang contractualization kase sa ngayon, ang mukha ng contractualization talaga ay yung third party o yung mga manpower agency. Hindi na ito yung endo.” [First off, the immediate step to take is the abolition of manpower agencies so that there will be no more contractualization because right now, the face of this system is really the third party — these manpower agencies.]
End-of-contract, or endo, is a form of contractualization wherein companies give temporary employment to workers that last for six months at most. These contractual workers get little to no labor benefits enjoyed by core or regularized workers like Social Security System, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG fund contribution, to name a few.
De Guzman added that several companies are already deviating from the endo system. One of the moves that are being done by these companies is the integration of employees in their core labor force, providing training for their employees to ensure their labor security.
De Guzman concluded that the executive branch of the government has the power to restrict or prohibit contractualization. “Kaya pwede yang i-prohibit ng Secretary of Labor [and Employment] ko or ako mismo kung ako’y nakapwesto,” he said. [So, that (contractualization) can be prohibited by the Secretary of Labor (and Employment) or I’ll do it myself should I win the presidential seat.]
De Guzman, together with fellow presidential aspirant Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, also confronted peace advocates in the inaugural town hall meeting of the “Peace and the Presidentiables” webinar series on February 15 and February 28, respectively, at 3 p.m. via Zoom and Facebook (FB) Live.
The two presidentiables support the reopening of the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (GRP-NDFP) peace talks, which was one of the main questions, and they both articulated why it is necessary to address the primary roots of the Philippines’ armed conflict.
Pacquiao stressed that the communist insurgency is rooted in widespread poverty, a lack of economic opportunity, and systematic corruption, contributing to socioeconomic disparities.
De Guzman also shared similar thoughts, further stressing out his fight to defend the rights of the people, especially in the labor sector.
SU is one of the schools that partnered with the Citizen’s Alliance for Just Peace (CAJP), which organized the episodes of Peace and the Presidentiables together with other schools such as the Lasallian Justice and Peace Commission of the De La Salle University system, Father Saturnino Urios University, St. Scholastica’s College Manila, and the University of the Philippines.
The CAJP comprises the Philippine Ecumenica Peace Platform (PEPP), Pilgrims for Peace, Sulong Peace, and Waging Peace Philippines.
“Peace and the Presidentiables” is a nationwide online forum on each presidentiable and was started to raise awareness of Peace as an electoral issue in the impending 2022 elections.
According to PEPP’s FB page, similar activities with other presidential candidates will be held in the weeks ahead.