Ka Leody and his ‘Labor first policy’ that could

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Ka Leody and his âLabor first policyâ that could
Ka Leody De Guzman shows up to the crowd at the start of his miting de avance at the Quezon City Memorial Circle covered court on May 4, Wednesday.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — Labor leader Leodegario De Guzman, known as “Ka Leody,” presented himself to the people as the “true alternative” presidential candidate.

When Ka Leody, chairperson of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, ran for the country’s top post — he knew he would be going against “elite-dominated” political parties, social circles, and dynasties who had machineries and funding to back their election bid. 

But the labor leader said winning the polls was not their main goal.

“Tanda ko na talagang layunin natin talagang i-break na ‘yung exclusivity ng presidential at vice-presidential at ang eleksyong ito na sa mga trapo at dynasty lamang ang nakakatakbo,” De Guzman said in a post-elections briefer with Partido Laban ng Masa on Tuesday evening.

(I remember that our real goal was to break the exclusivity of the presidential and vice-presidential race and the election, where only traditional politicians and those coming from political dynasties can take part in.) 

When De Guzman formally conceded on Tuesday morning, a day after the May polls, he said he will no longer contest the votes credited to him.

He did call on the Commission on Elections to hold themselves accountable for the irregularities voters experienced on election day. “Tingin ko dapat magpaliwanag ‘yung Comelec sa mga inirereklamo ng mga mamamayan,” De Guzman said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News. (I think the Commission on Elections should respond to the complaints of the people.) 

Along with running mate vice-presidential candidate professor Walden Bello, in the past three months they have presented themselves to the public as candidates for the everyday worker.

Labor first policy

De Guzman and Bello pitched to voters an administration with a “Labor first policy” that included increasing the national minimum wage to P750, ending contractualization, impose a wealth tax on the country’s top 500, and holding manpower agencies responsible for the workers they field.

They wanted the country to revive its local industries to provide more opportunities. The tandem hoped for an economy that recognized the plight, needs, and rights of the everyday worker long been exploited. 

Even if they did not have the funding other candidates had during the campaign season, De Guzman, Bello, and their team visited as many provinces and areas as possible.

De Guzman dispelled rumors early on that he will see his campaign through and will not back down from the 2022 elections. However, he was not invited to the first presidential forum held before the May polls, which focused on the top five presidential bets.

Expressing disappointment, the labor leader noted that “those who are famous and rich are still the priority.”

READ: Rich and famous still media's priority, Leody De Guzman says of TV snub 

In a separate interview months later, De Guzman said the government should organize events that would introduce the candidates and their platforms to the people through state-sponsored radio and television stations to somewhat level the playing field among those vying for a government position.

READ: De Guzman: Government media should help bets bring platform to the public

But despite lagging behind in pre-election surveys, the tandem believed that their campaign resonated with a lot of individuals, especially the youth.

“People told us that while they might not, for various reasons, vote for us this time around, they felt Leody and I were the only ones who carried a real program for change,” Bello said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

Real change?

Hours after voting precincts closed on Monday evening, Filipinos already had a clue about who was leading the partial and unofficial tally transmitted through the poll body’s transparency server.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son and namesake of ousted dictator, already had a wide lead against his closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, who was then already trailing by millions of votes. 

Marcos Jr.'s running mate Davao city mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio was also leading the race for the vice presidency.

Bello, who has been the subject of a persona non-grata declaration over his claims about Davao city, said that “the country faces six years of instability under the coming regime.” 

The Marcos-Duterte tandem springs from political families — Marcos hailing from the so-called “Solid North,” while Duterte is in her last months as the “presidential daughter” and Davao city mayor. Bello has repeatedly called out the two in various pre-election debates for their non-attendance. 

For the candidates who see themselves as the “true opposition,” while they both are far from being elected — the De Guzman-Bello tandem said the momentum they gained during their campaign gave birth to a movement, which paved the way for solidarity among Filipinos. 

“Kung ang eleksyon ay ang kahulugan ay paghahangad ng pagbabago, tayo talaga ‘yung nagdadala nun e,” De Guzman said

(If the election is meant to bring about change, our campaign really ushered that in.)




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