Labor groups defend Filipino workers against Ramon Tulfo’s remarks

March 11, 2019 - 4:15 PM
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Ramon Tulfo vs labor groups
Ramon Tulfo, broadcaster turned acting envoy to China, will not back down on his opinion that Chinese workers are better than Filipino workers. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Ramon “Mon” Tulfo stood by his opinion that Chinese workers are better than Filipinos despite drawing criticisms from major labor groups in the country.

Tulfo remarked on Twitter that Filipino workers are hurt because what he said was the truth. Meanwhile, Partido Lakas ng Masa, a socialist party, called on the former broadcaster to stop justifying his insults.

The real issue here is contractualization, according to Sonny Mencio, one of PLM’s members, on the group’s official Facebook page.

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“Wages are at starvation levels, just enough for workers to return the following day to be enslaved all over again. Contractualization remains prevalent and the administration is also actively goading Filipinos to apply for work in other countries instead of generating sustainable jobs locally,” Mencio explained.

A number of labor groups were disappointed over President Rodrigo Duterte’s failure to fulfill one of his main campaign promises that led him to landslide victory in 2016—ending the illegal contractualization of workers.

This led to massive and violent street demonstrations in 2018, particularly by employees of condiments giant NutriAsia.

“Why should this administration complain for the lack of skilled workers when all they have done is strengthen policies that discourage skilled Filipino workers from remaining in the country,” Mencio added.

Leody de Guzman, PLM’s senatorial candidate, emphasized how the Filipino workforce contributed to the growth of the Philippine economy during Duterte’s presidency.

“Kaya nga tinawag na manggagawa, kasi nga gumagawa. Walang ibang dahilan ng pag-unlad ng ekonomiya ng bansa liban sa manggagawang Pilipino. Patunay ng aming kasipagan ay yung mismong pinagmamalaki ng administrasyong ito na Gross Domestic Product at Gross National Product,” said De Guzman, who is also the chair of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino.

De Guzman cited an article from Forbes in 2018 wherein it praised the country’s gross domestic product or GDP reaching an all-time high of $2,891.36 in 2017.

He quipped that Tulfo may have misunderstood his role as a temporary ambassador to China.

The columnist was appointed as President Rodrigo Duterte’s “special envoy for public diplomacy” in 2018 for only six months.

“[K]ung masipag man itong si Tulfo, ito ay kasipagan niyang magsalita at mang-intriga. Malayong malayo sa manggagawa na lumilikha ng produkto at serbisyong may pinakikinabangan ng lahat ng tao,” De Guzman said.

This word war between Tulfo and labor groups started when the former said in a televised interview that Chinese nationals are more efficient at working than Filipinos.

Tulfo was defending Duterte’s softer stance against the sharp increase of Chinese people in the country, specifically illegal workers who mostly work at online gaming hubs.

Reactions

Partido Manggagawa described Tulfo’s earlier statement as mere “gossip” or “hearsay.”

“All Tulfo says is gossip, or hearsay according to lawyers. We challenge him to provide a comparative measure of productivity or a time-and-motion study,” the political party said to Philstar.com.

PLM earlier also pointed out the government’s cheap labor policies and illegal contractualization as the reason skilled Filipinos resort to go abroad than get hired here.

“Low wages and contractual work drives away our skilled labor force, which are not seen by the incompetent past and present administrations that benefit from billions of OFW remittances despite their bungling economic programs,” it said.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III previously expressed his ire against Tulfo’s statement.

“I violently disagree with his opinion on our Filipino workers. He should know that the most sought after workers in the world are the Filipinos,” Bello said.—Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos