The 200,000-strong Federation of Free Workers (FFW) over the weekend said it is considering to throw its support behind the presidential bid of Vice President Jejomar Binay or Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte because the two officials are “pro-labor.”
Sony Matula, FFW president, said both Binay and Duterte had been lawyers for workers long before they served the government.
Matula added that Binay was a labor lawyer before he became officer-in-charge of Makati City in 1986 and its elected mayor the following year.
Binay’s concern with workers continued when he was appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd as adviser on overseas Filipino workers affairs in 2010, he said.
The FFW president added that Duterte lawyered for workers during the Marcos presidency.
Thus, Matula said, among the presidential wannabes Binay and Duterte could be considered as pro-labor.
He pointed out that while mayors of Davao City and Makati City, Duterte and Binay, respectively, had clear social programs for their respective constituents.
Binay and Duterte being pro-labor, however, was disputed by former congressman Renato Magtubo, saying that lawyering for the workers during specific periods does not automatically mean Binay and Duterte are pro-labor.
Magtubo, now national chairman of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), noted that “being pro-labor [government officials]should be measured by consistent acts of promoting and defending workers’ rights and welfare, [and]not for being a lawyer once for [the]labor[ers].”
When asked if his statement means that PM will not support the presidential bid of Binay or Duterte, Magtubo replied “So far, [we have no]decision [yet].”
The FFW also still has no official position on who to support in the presidential derby.
Matula said while they recognize the experience of both Binay and Duterte as lawyers fr workers in the past, it does mean that the labor group will support any of the two.
According to him, the FFW National Council first has to conduct a thorough study and evaluation on Binay and Duterte specially that both of them are carrying negative issues.
For example, he said, Binay has been accused of graft and corruption by his detractors.
Duterte, according to Matula, is being accused of human rights violations.
“We are still searching. We need a President with executive background that can deliver [the labor sector’s]dream. Not a NATO [no action but talk only leader]executive. A President with fire in his belly, to make a difference for the working people. Trade unionists will look for that character in a leader. If Binay, Duterte or another [contender for President]can project that, he or she will be our preference for President,” Matula explained to The Manila Times.