MANILA, Philippines – Don’t take sides.
This was Interior Secretary Eduardo Año’s advice to Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, who backed the arrested workers of Regent Foods Corporation and bailed them out on Monday. (READ: Arrested workers freed after Vico Sotto helped them post bail)
Año said that it was not the place of local chief executives to take sides in labor disputes.
“Para sa akin dapat ang [local government unit] dito ay magmaintain ng peace and order, but do not take sides, because it is between the [Department of Labor and Employment], and the company, and the workers. Ang DOLE ang sinasabi nating right agency to hear that case and to decide,” he said.
(In my opinion, the local government unit should maintain peace and order, but do not take sides, because it is between the Department of Labor and Employment, and the company, and the workers. The DOLE is the right agency to hear that case and to decide.)
According to Año, it is only when peace and order is disrupted that the local chief executive should intervene, since they act as the chief law enforcer.
Año added that everyone involved in the case has rights that have to be upheld, thus the need to remain neutral. (READ: Regent Foods: We won’t be cowed by Vico’s 'threats')
“Para sa’kin, lahat ng tao may karapatan, whether you’re a business owner [or] you’re a community person. So we accord these equal rights and equal respect to everyone. Hanggang hindi pa tapos 'yung case, dapat we stay neutral on the ground, but protecting the rights of the people is also our concern,” he said.
(For me, everyone has rights, whether you’re a business owner or you’re a community person. So we accord these equal rights and equal respect to everyone. Until the case is resolved, we should stay neutral on the ground, but protecting the rights of the people is also our concern.)
Año said that he cannot yet determine if what Sotto did was wrong, but that he is “keenly observing” what is happening in Pasig. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.