ALL4LENI seeks labor leader's inclusion in Robredo's Senate slate
MANILA — A coalition of labor leaders on Tuesday expressed unconditional support for Vice President Leni Robredo’s bid for the presidency even if she won’t choose the bloc's own senatorial bet as part of her slate.
The Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni (ALL4LENI), in an online forum, campaigned for the inclusion of labor leader Sonny Matula in Robredo’s Senate slate.
Matula, a lawyer, is the president of the Federation of Free Workers and chairperson of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition.
He is seeking the 12th spot in Robredo’s ticket against 4 other candidates, including Makabayan bloc chair Neri Colmenares.
Asked about the prospect of Matula’s exclusion from the list of 12, ALL4LENI’S Nice Coronacion said they will continue supporting the Vice President.
“Malulungkot pero magpapatuloy na suportahan si VP Leni sa pagkandidatura pagka-pangulo sapagkat merong mas malawakan na layunin at ‘yan ay ang talunin ang mga Duterte at Marcoses at di na natin papayagan at ayaw na natin sa diktaturya at autoritaryanismo,” she said.
Robredo said Friday she wants the 12th spot to represent the marginalized sector.
Her current slate includes 5 returning and incumbent senators and a former vice president who are also guest candidates in the senatorial slates of senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson, leaving one more slot left.
Matula himself said that should he be excluded from Robredo’s ticket, he will continue supporting her while pushing for his own candidacy.
“Siyempre ‘yung ating mga kasama rito ay humihingi ng representasyon ng mga manggagawa. Siguro may dismasyado sa kanila pero ‘yun naman ay di sagabal para ituloy ang laban sa pagka-Presidente ni Leni Robredo at ‘yung ating alyansa naman ay di naman aatras dahil d’yan. So tuloy ang laban,” he said.
A former newsboy, Matula’s father was a farmer while her mother worked as a tailor.
A scholarship allowed him to finish college and he eventually earned his law degree from the Manuel L. Quezon University.
“Si Ka Sonny Matula ay kilala bilang isa sa mga kampeon ng agenda ng manggagawa at matibay na paninindigan laban sa diktadura at otoritaryanismo sa bansa,” ALL4LENI said in its statement read during the briefing.
It cited Matula’s five-point agenda:
- ending contractualization;
- increasing the minimum wage, removing the distinction between rates in Metro Manila and those in the provinces, and removing any form of discrimination on the basis of gender, kind of work, race, beliefs, among others;
- ending impunity by seeking justice for slain labor leaders and organizers while pushing for the abolition of the anti-insurgency task force NTF-ELCAC and the rescission of Executive Order 70;
- strengthening the public health care system including widespread vaccination, free testing and treatment, COVID assistance and paid quarantine leaves; and
- providing for a 10,000-peso a month income guarantee for at least 3 months to the unemployed
The group said representing the laborers is enough reason for Matula to be included in Robredo’s Senate slate although it wished more candidates could have been accommodated.
“Subalit inuunawa rin namin ang kapasyahan ni VP Leni na iangat ang layunin ng pakikipagkaisa sa ibang pwersa para matiyak ang tagumpay sa darating na halalalan. Ganunpaman, kami’y nanininiwala na higit na lalakas ang tsansa ng tagumpay kung higit na lalawak ang representasyon ng batayang sektor sa kanyang koalisyon,” it added.
The group unveiled its own list of senatorial bets it will support in a billboard in Sucat-Bicutan, paid for by funds donated by various labor groups within and outside the country.
Aside from Matula, they include senators Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima, lawyer Chel Diokno, ex-Rep. Teddy Baguilat and ex-Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
The group vowed to raise money to support Robredo’s candidacy, even going as far as launching a “Piso Para Kay VP Leni” campaign that aims to collect 1 peso from every member, who are also encouraged to actively campaign for the vice president.
With 350,000 members, ALL4LENI claimed it could possibly generate 2 million votes for Robredo in the May 2022 polls.
LEODY DE GUZMAN
But what about fellow-labor leader Leody de Guzman who also filed his certificate of candidacy for president?
The group said they had finished their deliberation process before De Guzman decided to launch his candidacy, calling De Guzman a “Johnny-come-lately” but whose contributions to the labor sector and his bid for presidency they respect.
They also pointed out other considerations in mind — Robredo as the most fit to run for President, her track record of promoting labor’s rights and her willingness to sit down and accept the labor agenda.
“Sa lahat ng anggulo, sa prinsipyo, sa kasaysayan, sa winnability at sa sama-samang pagkilos, sinusuportahan po ng mga manggagawa si VP Leni,” Ago Pedalizo of the Filipino-American Human Rights Alliance said.
Rene Magtubo of Partido ng Manggagawa also lamented the group’s differences in terms of goal and tactics with De Guzman’s campaign.
“Ang ating layunin ay dapat huwag nang manumbalik ang dating uri ng gobyerno na pinahirapan tayo…pinapatay tayo, walang demokrasya. Ang ating layunin din ay dapat huwag manumbalik ang pulitika ng mandarambongat diktador na si Marcos,” he said.
“Ang ating taktika ay dapat nakikipag-unite sa malakas na pwersa ng oposisyon na tatalo doon sa kanilang kandidato, para, kung tayo’y magtagumpay, meron tayong espasyo na maisulong nating muli at ating mga demokratikong kahilingan,” he added.
APPEAL TO FIGHT COMMON ENEMY
Magtubo meanwhile appealed to supporters of Robredo as well as anti-Duterte and anti-Marcos forces to stop bickering, especially on social media.
Makabayan supporters on Friday criticized Colmenares’ exclusion from the Senate slate, blaming Trillanes for it, while supporters of Robredo criticized the Makabayan bloc supposedly for supporting another candidate and for its previous stand of supporting
Trillanes himself admitted blocking Colmenares’ inclusion in Robredo’s Senate slate but blamed the Makabayan bloc for not voting for Robredo in opposition coalition 1Sambayan’s internal survey.
Makabayan bloc clarified it has not endorsed any presidential candidate.
“Huwag magbangayan. Eyes to the main goal. Ibig sabihin, ang main goal natin ay talunin ang manok ni Duterte, talunin ang mga Marcoses at ang pulitika ng pandarambong, pananakot at panloloko ay matigilan na, matuldukan na. That’s the main goal,” he said.
Matula himself made an appeal to respect Robredo’s decision.
“Normal lang, palagay ko, na merong mga iba’t ibang opinyon sa isang demokratikong espasyo. Pero ang panawagan namin, anuman ang desisyon ng ating Bise Presidente, para sa pangkalahatang kapakanan, ay ating susuportahan,” he said.