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Son defends Herrera legacy as labor leader

/ 02:30 AM November 05, 2015

Senate colleagues paid tribute to the late Ernesto Herrera in necrological services at the chamber Wednesday, in which  they celebrated the life and work of the labor leader and former senator, comparing him to one of the country’s foremost national heroes, Apolinario Mabini.

Herrera’s son, Ernesto II, defended his father’s legacy as a labor leader, and sought to correct a misimpression that he was responsible for the so-called contractualization law.

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He lamented that a lie, repeated often enough, has taken on the appearance of truth.

Herrera never strayed from his beliefs, his son said. “My dad remained faithful to his advocacies, to represent the workers who trusted and believed in him,” he said.

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To begin with, there is no contractualization law, and the Senate records would bear this out, Ernesto II said.

According to Ernesto II, what Herrera authored was a bill providing for the mandatory regularization of employees who have rendered six months of continuous service, a provision later included in the Revised Labor Code.

This bill actually strengthens security of tenure, his son pointed out.

What paved the way for contractualization were department orders from the Department of Labor and Employment that allowed companies to circumvent the measure by using labor-only contracting agencies that imposed five-month contracts, he said.

“In fact, the record shows that my dad was very critical and fought against these department orders favoring labor-only contracting,” Ernesto II said.

“It’s unfair to blame contractualization on my dad. It was a totally misguided opinion, twisted truth and it’s downright unfair,” he added.

Ernesto II also recalled how his father and his closest colleagues led modest lives while they were in the Senate, which Herrera first served during the 8th Congress, the first elected legislature after the 1987 Constitution was ratified.

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Herrera and his Senate seatmate Sen. Rene Saguisag, as well as Sen. Orly Mercado, drove secondhand cars. Herrera also took taxis when his car broke down or his driver was late, his son said.

“Special plates bodyguards and wang-wang [car sirens] were basically unheard of back then,” he said.

Senators at the time also turned down the chance to have vehicles purchased for then, Ernesto II noted.

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TAGS: Apolinario Mabini, Ernesto Herrera, Labor, Nation, news
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