'No steady income': Ka Leody was fired as factory worker before becoming a labor leader

Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2022 08:43 PM

Presidential aspirant and labor group leader Ka Leody De Guzman leads a protest rally near the Mendiola bridge in Manila, in commemoration of Bonifacio Day on November 30, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Presidential aspirant and labor group leader Ka Leody De Guzman leads a protest rally near the Mendiola bridge in Manila, in commemoration of Bonifacio Day on November 30, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman revealed Tuesday he was once a factory worker in a garments company but was fired, before becoming a full-time labor leader.

De Guzman said he did not have a steady income of his own for 34 years.

"Wala akong sweldo tuwing a-kinse. Wala akong swedo tuwing katapusan. Wala akong 13th month," he said in the Facts First podcast.

(I don't have a salary every 15th of the month. I don't have a salary every last day of the month. I don't have a 13th month pay.)

De Guzman said he was fired after leading a protest inside his company against the "per-piece policy", wherein garment laborers were paid per piece that they produce.

"Sa tingin namin, dinadaya kami kasi doble ang production, pero dagdag-sweldo, kapiranggot lang."

(We think we are being tricked, because the production is double but our additional payment is too small.)

Since then, he said he devoted his time to becoming a full-time labor leader.

Asked where he gets his funds for his daily activities, De Guzman said his wife has been working in a bank, and that they have a small business wherein they sew curtains, bed sheets, and pillowcases.

He added that his three children are all now working. "Yung pamilya ko na ang bumubuhay sa akin."

(My family sustains my life.)

Asked about his net worth, De Guzman estimated it to be more or less at P1 million, mostly owing it to properties of his wife.

De Guzman earlier addressed rumors that he is living a very comfortable life, seemingly inconsistent with his image as someone representing the downtrodden. 

In a Facebook live stream, the labor leader said that his family are all from the labor force, and they all worked hard for what they have right now. 

De Guzman drew flak for a photo showing him with his family and a purebred dog in an apparently comfortable home.

He clarified that his pet corgi is just a gift, and denied allegations that he is selling the fight of workers.

Partido Lakas ng Masa vice-presidential aspirant Walden Bello defended his running mate, saying workers deserve to have a decent life. 

"A Christmas photo in a comfortable setting subjects Leody De Guzman's family to online abuse by those who think they should be living in a hovel. What an ugly display of middle-class prejudice. Working people deserve respect," Bello said in a series of tweets.

Sociologist Herbert Docena, a vocal supporter of De Guzman, explained that people should realize that an activist's life is hard, and support from their families is vital so they can pursue their advocacies. 

—with report from Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

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