Who is the Labor Win Alliance? 

Ryan Macasero - Philstar.com
Who is the Labor Win Alliance? 
Laborers protest 'endo' or the practice of labor contracting in this 2018 file photo
Edd Gumban / The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — While the Hugpong ng Pagbabago and Otso Diretso senatorial slates dominated the media’s coverage of the proclamation rallies held in February, another slate — the Labor Win alliance — also held their own proclamation rally on February 14 for candidates they believe will advocate for the rights of laborers. 

READ: KAYA O HINDI? | Senatorial bets nangakong tatapusin ang 'endo'

The slate — which got far less media attention the Hugpong or Otso's rally — is comprised of only five candidates: lawyer and Federation of Free Workers President Sonny Matula; Lawyer and National Confederation of Labor President Ernesto Arellano; Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chairman Leody de Guzman, ex-Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares; and International Secretary of the Federation of Free Workers and lawyer Allan Montaño.

Arellano said during the slate's proclamation rally that he believes workers' struggle to become a “force for social change” because they are “not voting as a class in the periodic and common political exercise, which is no other than the elections. 

“They troop to voting precincts as separate individual voters not based on a collective will and a common platform to advance their interest," he added. 

The slate hopes to unite the country’s laborers through the endorsement of these candidates. 

The slate explained their platform in a statement that they would advocate for creation of decent jobs, stricter laws against employment abuse, agrarian reform, and ending contractualization, among other issues. 

While the slate is vocal against what they believe are anti-labor policies of the current administration, they also do not see themselves allied with the opposition slate Otso Diretso.

"A choice for the lesser evil between elite-dominated parties such as the Hugpong and the Liberal Party is to choose for death by hanging or by arsenic,” De Guzman said in February.

His labor party, the Partido Lakas ng Masa, said that the slate’s win was necessary as a “third pole to the tyrannical Duterte regime and the ‘yellow’ elite opposition.” 

"A choice for the lesser evil between elite dominated parties such as the Hugpong and the LP is to choose for death by hanging or by arsenic,” De Guzman said. 

He said that it was time workers learn “through political experience” should rely on themselves and “not on fake messiahs such as Duterte to win demands for a living wage, regular jobs, rights to self-organization and collective action, and civil and political rights.”

“The coming elections, participated in by millions of ordinary workers, provides the opportunity for the sweeping mass education of the exploited,” the labor leader added.

The slate is aware, however, of the uphill climb they face against the more moneyed candidates. 

He said during ABS-CBN’s Harapan senatorial forum on Sunday evening: “Isang hindi magandang palatandaan dahil ginagawa ang eleksyon para sa mga milyonaryo lamang (This is not a good sign because the elections are being tailored for millionaires only).”

According to a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, candidates had already spent P2.4 billion on pre-campaign ads from January 2018 to January 2019. 

READ: P2.4-B pre-campaign ads: Bong Go, Marcos, Roxas, Roque top spenders

The biggest spender at P422.5 million was former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, who has yet to explain his campaign platform aside from promising to be a "bridge" to the president. Nor has he appeared in any of the scheduled debates. 

In February, Go jumped into the so-called "Magic 12" in Pulse Asia's January 2019 reaching the 6th - 12th spot from previously placing at 14th-16th.

The next top spender after Go is Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, spending a total of P413 million, followed by opposition candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas at P401 million.

It was also noted in the report that the top three candidates’ ad spend were also significantly higher than their actual net worths. 

While Go, Marcos and Roxas have all penetrated the top 12 in the senatorial preference surveys at some point, none of the labor candidates have made it even near the top 12. 

But despite the uphill battle to make it in the top 12, the slate is not going to go down without a fight. 

When the Otso Diretso slated publicly challenged Hugpong ng Pagbabago to debates several times last week, the Labor Win alliance jumped into the discussion saying that the debate should be a “three-way fight.” 

According to Labor Win's statement, the debate would then represent the elite and the marginalized, with the “two dominant parties” representing the former, while they believe their side represents the latter. 

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