Monthly Archives: June 2011

Broad Labor Groups Oppose Supreme Court Associate Justice Carpio-Morales’ Nomination as Ombudsman

In today’s schedule of the public interview of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, labor groups picketed the venue to oppose the inclusion of Associate Justice Carpio-Morales in the list of candidates for the position of Ombudsman.

The broad labor groups* submitted a letter addressed to the Judicial and Bar Council and stressed that the group’s intractable opposition to he nomination as Ombudsman is based on the palpable and consistent anomalies with regard to the case of the 92 Dusit Thani Hotel Workers who are now seeking justice against the decision of the Supreme Court Second Division on G.R. No. 163942 dated November 11, 2008 or commonly known as “The Dusit Case.”

While Justice Presbitero Velasco was the ponente, Carpio-Morales was among the five (5) Associate Justices who rendered the decision on the abovementioned case against the 92 former Dusit Hotel workers. The Velasco ruling is clearly a form of “judicial legislation” because the SC, in effect, amended the statutory definition of “strike” when it deemed the shaving of one’s hair to amount to an “illegal strike”!

More than 20 labor federations and unions intervened in the case and repeatedly filed motions for reconsiderations because of the implications of this solid decision of the Second Division. It is, in fact, expressly stipulated in Article VIII, Section 4 (3) of the 1987 Constitution that when there’s a doctrinal or constitutional issue involved, it must be reviewed or resolved by the Supreme Court en banc.

The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, wherein the Dusit Thani Hotel case was one of the 8 cases investigated by the ILO High Level Mission in September 2009, in its 358th report dated November 2010 found that the Philippine Government violated the ILO Conventions 87 and 98, to wit:

“862. The Committee considers that…generally, a strike is a temporary work stoppage (slowdown) willfully effected by one or more groups of workers. In the present case, while shaving their heads, the employees had not stopped working. The Committee considers that equating the mere expression of discontent, peacefully and lawfully exercised, with a strike per se results in a violation of the freedom of association and expression.”

Justice Carpio-Morales and the rest of the 2nd Division refused to rule on that fundamental issue, even as the same was brought to her attention many times at the risk of the lawyers being held in contempt.

She approved the February 9, 2009 Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration even though the Second Division was not validly constituted for lack of one member. Associate Justice Ruben Reyes retired on January 2, 2009 and his replacement had not been designated as of February 9, 2009.

Division Clerk of Court Ludichi Yasay-Nunag later admitted that Justice Ruben Reyes did not participate in the approval of the Resolution as the latter already retired. There is no doubt then that the said Resolution is NULL AND VOID because there was NO Second Division to speak of. The Constitution requires the Supreme Court to sit in a Division of five.

Despite repeated Motions for Reconsideration and issues raised on the validity of the February 9, 2009 Resolution for lack of a fifth member, again, just like the earlier constitutional issue, the Second Division REFUSED TO DECIDE on the matter.

“Her participation in the assailed resolution casts a shadow of doubt on Associate Justce Conchita Carpio-Morales’ integrity and competence which the position of the Ombudsman requires and demands,” Larry Javier, Vice President of NUWHRAIN-DHNC, said.

Javier further stated that the Justice had countless opportunities to address this issue. Apparently, she saw no reason to address a fundamental constitutional issue, even one which destroyed the livelihoods and threw away the years of service of ordinary workers and one which threatens those of many workers other than those from Dusit Thani Hotel.

A Supreme Court Justice who cannot understand that four (4) is less than five (5) should not be allowed to become an Ombudsman.

A Supreme Court Justice who refused to recognize the fact that January 2, 2009 actually occurred before February 9, 2009 should not be allowed to become an Ombudsman!

* Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL); Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP); Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU); Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN); Partido ng Manggagawa (PM); Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions of the Philippines (ACCUP); League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO); National Alliance of Broadcast Unions (NABU); National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN); Postal Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP); Workers’ Solidarity Network (WSN)

LEARN joins Church-Labor Conference in a forum on security of tenure, unemployment and right to self-organization

Quezon City, Philippines – “The Church has social teachings that reiterate the need for people to value labor or work and everyone, including the government, should respect that,” these are the words that came out of the Forum on Unemployment, Security of Tenure and Right to Self-Organization held Tuesday, 21 June 2011 at the Occupational Health and Safety Center in Diliman, Quezon City.

The forum was organized by the members of the Church-Labor Conference, Occupational Health and Safety Center (OSCH), and Department of Labor and Employment – Bureau of Labor Relations (DOLE-BLR). CLC was formed in 2009 after several labor groups, NGOs and church-based labor centers banded together in an effort to address the prevailing labor issues in the Philippines, including the violations of labor rights and occupational health and safety standards in an infamous Korean-owned shipyard, the dismissal of Dusit Hotel workers due to an “illegal” strike, contractualization in the Philippine Airlines and sacking of majority of its union members and officers, “ENDO” or end of contract phenomenon, among others.

In this forum, the foremost topic was tenurial security and the much-awaited passage of a bill on security of tenure and regular employment. LEARN legal counsel, Tony Salvador, discussed the pertinent provisions of the bill that would limit and regulate the employers’ labor-related abuses in terms of subcontracting, contracting out business functions and union-busting. As a member of the CLC, LEARN plays a major role in making sure that the bill is monitored in the House of Representatives and its content is protected from any encroachment by some reluctant employers’ groups and legislators. LEARN has also been instrumental in drafting the text of the bill with the help of other labor groups that Akbayan and the Coalition Against Contractualization (KONTRA) consulted months before the first reading of the bill in Congress. It is left to time when the efforts of the groups will come to fruition.

Other issues tackled in the event were the prospects of exercising workers’ right to self-organization in selected industries and establishments, the employment situation in the Philippines, the Social Teachings of the Church on Labor, the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan for 2011-2016, and the challenges that workers, trade unionists and labor activists face in the context of neoliberal globalization policies and processes for the next twenty (20) years.

The forum was followed by a workshop wherein participating labor leaders and representatives from other CLC member-organizations came up with answers to the following long-standing questions: 1) what do we observe in the job generation program of the government; 2) what are the rules that need to be changed or espoused in order to protect the workers’ right to regular work; 3) how can workers enjoy their basic rights to security of tenure and self-organization; and 4) what can the labor department of the Philippine government do to show that it really protects the rights of workers.

FEDCOWorkers gathers cooperatives from different Mega Manila areas in a forum on cooperative taxation and regulations governing Philippine cooperatives

The Federation of Cooperatives of Workers’ Organizations (FEDCOWorkers), with the support of the Labor Education and Research Network and Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party, organized and hosted this years’ forum on Cooperative Taxation and Government Regulations yesterday, June 2, 2011 at the LEARN Workers’ House in Quezon City, Philippines.

The forum, which gathered more than thirty (30) individuals representing twenty-one (21) workers’ cooperatives, organizations, government agencies and a political party, was held as part of FEDCO’s awareness-raising campaigns and education forums. Some of the cooperatives that took part in the event include the Novaliches Development Cooperative (NOVADECI), BASIDECO, LEARN Coop and ABCEUMPC.

The forum also became a venue for these institutions to gain knowledge on laws and government policies that guide the conduct of cooperativism as a representative from the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) discussed the pertinent rules under the Amended Cooperative Code of the Philippines or Republic Act 9520 and CDA Memorandum Circulars concerning cooperatives. He highlighted the importance of maintaining strong and sustainable cooperatives that can withstand even the closure of companies wherein the members of the cooperatives are working.

A representative from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) also imparted her knowledge on government regulations and processes that guide and affect, respectively, the conduct of cooperatives as company- and community-based agents of people’s financial stability and socio-economic development. She put emphasis on the importance of applying for and securing a Certificate of Tax Exemption under the amended Cooperative Code. She also stated that even though the laws’ stringent measures concerning the application for BIR certificates seem to hinder the operation and expansion of cooperatives, these guidelines nevertheless allow the proliferation of legitimate and legal cooperative entities and prevent others from deviating from government standards.

Kit Melgar, Akbayan Representative Walden Bello’s Chief of Staff, also showed her support for the forum and the cooperatives that were present, saying that they serve as instruments of change by uplifting not only their members’ lives but also the society’s economic condition. She also said that Akbayan is willing to espouse any policy changes such as amendatory bills on the Cooperative Code of the Philippines in the areas of small-scale in house insurance provision by cooperatives, requirements that need to be accomplished in applying for certificates of registration and tax exemption, maximizing the benefits that cooperatives get from the new code and strengthening the CDA’s role in order for it to perform properly side by side with workers’ cooperatives.

NUWHRAIN-Dusit Hotel Nikko Chapter Opposes Supreme Court Associate Justice Carpio Morales’ nomination as Ombudsman

In a letter to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the Dusit Nikko Chapter of the APL- and IUF-affiliated National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN) vehemently opposed the inclusion of Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales in the list of candidates for the position of Ombudsman.

The group’s intractable opposition to her nomination as Ombudsman is based on the palpable and consistent anomalies with regard to the case of the 92DusitThani Hotel Workers, who are now seeking justice against the decision of the Supreme Court Second Division on G.R. No. 163942 dated November 11, 2008 or commonly known as “The Dusit Case”.

While Justice Presbitero Velasco was the ponente, Morales was among the five (5) Associate Justices who rendered the decision on the abovementioned case against the 92 former Dusit Hotel workers. The decisionof the 2nd Division, has in fact turned topsy-turvy the customary concepts of a strike, which – as any new union member who had undergone a basic labor seminar knows and as any law student who attended labor law class knows – is very much different from a picket. The Velasco ruling is clearly a form of “judicial legislation,” because the SC in effect, amended the statutory definition of “strike” when it deemed the shaving of one’s hair to amount to an “illegal strike”!

More than 20 labor federations and unions intervened in the case and repeatedly filed motions for reconsiderations because of the implications of this sordid decision of the Second Division. It is, in fact, expressly stipulated in Article VIII, Section 4 (3) of the 1987 Constitution, which says that when there’s a doctrinal or constitutional issues involved, it must be reviewed or resolved by the Supreme Court en banc.

The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association wherein the DusitThani Hotel case was one of the 8 cases investigated by the ILO High Level Mission in September 2009, in its 358th report dated November 2010, found that the Philippine Government violated ILO Conventions 87 and 98, to wit:

“862. The Committee considers that…generally, a strike is a temporary work stoppage (slowdown) willfully effected by one or more groups of workers. In the present case, while shaving their heads, the employees had not stopped working. The Committee considers that equating the mere expression of discontent, peacefully and lawfully exercised, with a strike per se results in a violation of the freedom of association and expression.”

Justice Carpio-Morales and the rest of the 2nd Division refused to rule on that fundamental issue, even as the same was brought to her attention many times-at the risk of the lawyers being held in contempt.

She approved the February 9, 2009 Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration even though the Second Division was not validly constituted for lack of one member. Associate Justice Ruben Reyes retired on January 2, 2009 and his replacement had not been designated as of February 9, 2009.

The Minute Resolution dated February 9, 2009 included Associate Justice Ruben Reyes as one of the justices who decided on the Motion for Reconsideration even if he retired a month earlier on January 02, 2009. Division Clerk of Court Ludichi Yasay-Nunag later admitted that Justice Ruben Reyes did not participate in the approval of the Resolution as the latter already retired. There is no doubt then that said Resolution is null and void because there was no Second Division to speak of. The Constitution requires the Supreme Court to sit in a Division of five.

Despite repeated Motion for Reconsideration and raised in issue the validity of the February 9, 2009 Resolution for lack of a fifth member, again just like the earlier constitutional issue, the Second Division REFUSED TO DECIDE on the issue.

Her participation in the assailed resolution casts a shadow of doubt on Associate Justice ConchitaCarpio Morales integrity and competence which the position of the Ombudsman requires and demands! said Larry Javier the Vice President of NUWHRAIN-DHNC.

Javier further stated she had countless opportunities to address this issue. Apparently, she saw no reason to address a fundamental constitutional issue, even one which destroyed the livelihoods and throw away the years of service by ordinary workers and one which threatens that of many workers other than those from DusitThani Hotel.

A Supreme Court Justice who cannot understand that four (4) is less than five (5) should not be allowed to become an Ombudsman.

A Supreme Court Justice who refused to recognize the fact that January 2, 2009 actually occurred before February 9, 2009 should not be allowed to become an Ombudsman!