MANILA (UCAN): Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila has expressed regret over the decision of the president, Rodrigo Duterte, to dismiss a top labour official for allegedly failing to put a stop to workers’ strikes.
Bishop Pabillo said the president’s decision to fire Joel Maglunsod, which was announced on October 2, was “very unfortunate” because the official understood the plight of workers.
The archbishop, who heads the Commission on the Laity of the bishops’ conference, said Duterte had distanced himself even more from the cause of ordinary workers.
“Joel Maglunsod is really pro labour,” Bishop Pabillo said. “He is the hope of many organised labour groups to defend their cause.”
The presidential palace said in a statement that the decision to fire Maglunsod, who served as undersecretary in the Department of Labour, was due to workers’ strikes.
“[Duterte] thinks that strikes are unproductive and of course it was the context why he said he wanted [Maglunsod] out,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Maglunsod, who used to head the labour centre May First Movement, said he was surprised by the president’s decision.
“This is part of (Duterte’s) crackdown against the labour movement that leads to growing strikes and protests against [his] failed promise to end contractualisation,” said labour leader Elmer Labog.
Labog said the more than 130 notices of strikes filed before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board are “reflections of the worsening state of Filipino workers under Duterte.”
Other labour groups expressed indignation over the president’s decision. Josua Mata of Sentro said Maglunsod is the “closest ally” of workers in the government.
Renato Magtubo of Nagkaisa Labour Coalition said Maglunsod “has bridged the gap of trust” between the Labour department the workers.