KMU hits back at Duterte on unionism: Honor ‘supremacy of Constitution’
DAVAO CITY — The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Southern Mindanao here chastised Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for a statement the presidential aspirant made in Tondo, telling the militant labor group to “stop organizing unions or face extermination.”
The militant group, who earlier considered Duterte an ally for Duterte’s expressed support to end contractualization of labor, said that its ranks will defend themselves from whatever form of repression Duterte or any other president may unleash on the militant trade union movement.
Joel Maglunsod, KMU vice president for Mindanao, called Duterte’s statement offhand and unwarranted.
READ: Duterte: Labor contractualization ‘will kill the Filipino skill’
“Knowing Duterte’s penchant for hyperbole, the statement on ‘killing’ is prone to be construed literally but that particular threat is irresponsible and disrespectful to the workers, urban poor, and drivers, sectors represented under the labor center,” Maglunsod said.
“We need to remind Mayor Duterte of the supremacy of the Constitution, as he has repeatedly invoked earlier to defend, particularly Article 13, Sec. 3, that the State shall afford protection to labor, including the right to organize and freedom of association,” Maglunsod said, adding workers will defend this right “vigorously, even to the death.”
A statement from Duterte’s camp said the Davao City Mayor was merely misquoted and that Duterte has “no beef” with KMU.
“Presidential candidate Duterte said he regrets his statement was taken out of context,” Duterte’s media bureau head Peter Laviña said in a statement.
“The mayor was merely asking to be given the chance to invite capital and help develop economic zones that will create jobs,” Laviña said, recalling how Duterte launched the ‘Invest in Davao’ in 1992, setting the parameters for businesses to invest in Davao City for as long as the companies “do not exploit children, women, labor and environment.”
“May we remind Mayor Duterte that as far as history goes, even the brutality of Martial Law under the Marcos dictatorship and repressions during subsequent regimes failed to quell KMU,” Maglunsod said.
KMU also asked why Duterte, who repeatedly claimed he is with the Left, “seemed to toe the capitalist line that vilifies unionism as a stumbling block to national development.”
“This is an extremely disappointing stand following Duterte’s earlier pronouncement to end contractualization,” Maglunsod said.
He cautioned Duterte’s plan of “establishing special economic zones to boost employment and fuel economic growth,” saying that the continuation of existing economic zones, which are “exploitative neoliberal projects” will only devastate the working class.
Instead, KMU urged Duterte to focus on national industrialization through a genuine agrarian reform program, two crucial steps towards a people-centered development. CDG
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