• Doing what should be done

    Ernesto F. Herrera

    Ernesto F. Herrera

    Now that the Court of Appeals has ruled on the rightful leadership of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), perhaps it is time to move on and focus on the real things a labor union should focus on.

    I always keep saying that any turf war, whether it is within a union or between two rival unions, is not good for workers.

    I hope that the 32-page decision issued on 07 October 2013 by the Court of Appeals ruling that I as secretary general validly assumed the TUCP presidency after former TUCP president Democrito Mendoza’s tendered his resignation on November 1, 2011 ends the unfortunately much publicized intra-union dispute, which should never have happened had everybody just followed the TUCP constitution to begin with.

    It is time to end the Mendoza family controlled TUCP and start a new dynamic leadership that could build the ranks of organized workers.

    The 90-year-old Mendoza has been president of the TUCP for the past 32 years, until he tendered his resignation to the TUCP Executive Board effective November 1, 2011. Indeed, when I was a two-term senator or even after my service in the Senate, I never challenged his leadership, despite the many controversies surrounding it, because Kito Mendoza is like a father to me.

    I even tried to convince him not to resign when he first told me of his intentions. I felt though that he was simply tired, old and ailing. He just wanted to rest.

    But after he tendered his resignation the rules and bylaws of the TUCP constitution had to be followed. He couldn’t simply take it back as his sons wanted. And by no means certainly could he pass on his leadership to his sons and favored cronies.

    “There is simply no evidence that the resignation of Mendoza was whimsical, arbitrary, capricious or uncertain. Hence, on such date, the TUCP Presidency became vacant,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam of the CA’s Seventh Division.

    Section 9 of the TUCP Constitution stipulates that “in the event of vacancy in the office of the President by reason of death, permanent disability, resignation or removal from office, the General Secretary shall succeed the latter and shall serve for the unexpired term.”

    The CA orders “Mendoza and/or his representatives to desist or refrain from doing any act” that would go against the court’s ruling.

    The appellate court voided all actions of Mr. Mendoza after his resignation. “Thus, any act performed by Mendoza after his resignation has no legal effect and is not binding, for lack of authority,” the CA said.

    The CA also ordered the “Public Respondents [BLR-DOLE] to supervise, monitor and insure that for the period of his incumbency as President of TUCP in a hold-over capacity, President Herrera, as well as the other Petitioners shall have full use and access to the TUCP offices including its equipments, facilities, papers and properties in Quezon City and located elsewhere, as maybe necessary in the discharge of official duties, without interruption or disruption from Private Respondent Mendoza, his representatives or agents; Public Respondents are also ordered to sanction, in accordance with existing laws and applicable regulations, any TUCP member or agent who obstructs, delays or defeats the enforcement of this decision.”

    This is because on January 25, 2012, Mendoza and his allies forcibly took over the TUCP building, preventing legitimate TUCP officials and staff from performing their everyday duties. Goons were hired to prevent us from entering the TUCP compound in Quezon City.

    We welcome the CA decision. We have always been confident that we will get justice from the Court because we abided by the laws of the land and the TUCP’s own constitution and bylaws.

    A labor union is a pillar of democratic society so it should also be democratic. It shouldn’t be treated like family property or like a family owned corporation that you could rule over as you will and even bequeath to your sons. The TUCP is the largest democratic center of various free labor federations, and now, under our new leadership, it could be run as such.

    Even prior to the CA decision, the TUCP’s two parent organizations, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Asia Pacific in Singapore and the ITUC in Brussels, have already recognized my succession as TUCP president. The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 156 countries and territories and has 315 national affiliates.

    The American Center for International Labor Solidarity (Solidarity Center), the Union Network International—Asia Pacific and consultant of the Danish Trade Union Council (LO-FTF) also expressed the same support for our leadership.

    The TUCP has over a million members. It represents workers in 17 regional wage boards, except in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Twelve of the 20 labor representatives in the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council are leaders of TUCP affiliate federations.

    It is a partner organization of the International Labor Organization and the Solidarity Center of the mammoth and very influential American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).


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