Justice

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The Court of Appeals recently upheld with finality its decision on the rightful leadership of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), in effect validating my assumption as TUCP president and affirming all the acts that I performed as chief executive of the national labor center.

It is time to move on and focus on the real things a labor union should focus on. The TUCP should be devoting its resources toward organizing new members, bargaining for good contracts and fighting for ordinary workers’ rights–as any good union should. We should not be wasting time and energy on internal squabbles.

This so-called turf war in the TUCP has gone on too long and has definitely not been good for our workers. Indeed, I find it embarrassing that while millions of Filipinos are struggling with unemployment and underemployment, have poor job security and no union representation, the labor leaders in the biggest labor union in the country are waging a turf war.

I am the first one to say that nobody wins in a nasty union battle and it does not serve the interests of ordinary workers or our members.


I certainly did not want it but we had to fight for who should rightfully represent and serve the best interests of our union members.

After 38 years as TUCP president, Democrito Mendoza, now 91, voluntarily resigned his post on November 1, 2011.

Mendoza’s resignation, conveyed in writing, was accepted by the TUCP’s national executive board. As then general secretary, I automatically succeeded him to become president, based on the TUCP’s own constitution and by-laws.

Mendoza later recalled his resignation at the prodding of his sons who held various positions in the TUCP, thus setting off a dispute that the CA resolved in a ruling first promulgated on October 7, 2013.

In that verdict, the CA upheld my being TUCP president, saying that I validly assumed the post of president when Mendoza effectively quit his post on his own accord.

The new CA ruling merely affirmed its previous decision on my being TUCP president, and denied Mendoza’s motion for reconsideration.

The CA also ordered the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure that I and other duly-designated officers, “shall have full use and access to the TUCP offices including its equipment, facilities, papers, properties in Quezon City and located elsewhere, as may be necessary in the discharge of official duties, without interruption or disruption.”

Referring to the DOLE, the court added: “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 Mendoza previously padlocked TUCP’s Diliman, Quezon City, headquarters, forcing me and other officers and staff to temporarily hold office in Manila.

Everybody knows Mendoza is like a father to me. And it pains me to be at odds with him. Prior to this case, I never challenged Mendoza’s leadership in the TUCP. Nor did I ever seek the TUCP presidency while I was a senator of the republic for 12 years, or even after, despite the controversies surrounding Mendoza’s leadership in TUCP.

When he resigned, I even asked the old man to reconsider. I offered him the post of president emeritus of TUCP, which we created, but he would not accept it. He said he was tired and just wanted to retire. We respected his wishes.

I and many others in the union believe that his sudden turnaround was not of his own accord but was done at the behest of his sons, Raymond and Michael, who want to keep their hold on the union to the detriment of the TUCP members.

Jose Umali Jr., president of the National Union of Bank Employees (Nube), a TUCP affiliate, called it “the undemocratic and family-motivated interests” of Mendoza’s leadership.

TUCP vice president Alex Villaviza summed it succinctly when he said Mendoza’s sons “have illusions of entitlement”; they think TUCP “is like a chunk of family property that they can rightfully acquire by inheritance from their father.”

“The TUCP is not a family-owned corporation. We are not a piece of private real estate that the father can bequeath to his sons. We are a democratic center of various free labor federations,” Villaviza said.

The new CA decision hopefully ends once and for all this unfortunately much publicized intra-union dispute, which should never have happened had everybody just followed the TUCP constitution to begin with. We have always been confident that we will get justice from the Court because we followed the laws of the land and the TUCP’s own constitution and bylaws.

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

Only a democratic union can be depended on to fulfill its purpose effectively. A union controlled by just one family is bound to be self-serving.

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