Courage refuses to give up on party-list dreamBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In the vast government machinery, the street sweeper or laborer who hauls sacks of rice for the government hardly has the means to fight powerful superiors over his dismal working conditions and to push for rights and benefits due them, said a group of government employees.
Officials of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) said this reality facing rank-and-file public servants prompted it to appeal the decision of the Commission on Elections to disqualify the group.
In barring Courage from running in the party-list elections, the poll body said the sector that it sought to represent was not marginalized and was overrepresented.
At a press conference, Courage vice president Santiago Dasmariñas said the Comelec should reconsider its ruling, pointing out that most state employees were facing problems such as absence of benefits and proper compensation, and lack of job security and opportunities to organize into a union.
Often, these problems are not resolved or addressed by their superiors. Hence, the need for a party-list group in Congress that would fight for their welfare, Dasmariñas said.
“We are not overrepresented in the government. We are the small employees. We are not the bosses,” he said.
He added that unlike other party-list groups such as Akbayan and the Black and White Movement, Courage officials were not holding high-ranking positions in government. He said groups like Akbayan and the Black and White Movement should be barred from the race.
Mar Aguilar, Courage member and Wage Fight convenor, said the heads of government agencies did not always speak for the workers and may sometimes even work against their interests. For instance, some of them disapprove of or prevent the formation of unions, Aguilar said.
Elvira Prudencio of the Department of Labor and Employment’s union, said government employees were finding it difficult to seek redress when the higher-ups in government make decision that affect or diminish their benefits.
“Where will we go then? Do we sue (Budget) Secretary (Florencio) Abad?” Prudencio said.