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Free Workers continue fight for party-list accreditation
January 20, 2010

Members of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) continued to keep watch at the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to compel the poll body to act on its petition for accreditation in the party-list elections this May.

“For as long as our voices are not heard we shall continue to make loud cries,” said Allan Montano, national president of the FFW.

The FFW filed with the COMELEC’s Second Division on Monday a “Respectful Urgent Motion to Resolve the Petition for Registration and Accreditation” of the labor group.

“We are exhausting all legal remedies to save our participation in the party-list elections that’s why we filed this urgent motion,” said Montaño.

Labor official in disbelief

Members of the FFW are not the only ones in disbelief over the continued inaction on the party-list accreditation petition of the labor group.

A high ranking official of the Department of Labor and Employment commented that “it is unbelievable that a trade union which is smaller in number compared to the FFW got an accreditation ahead of it.”

Atty. Sonny Matula, national vice president of the FFW said that “COMELEC lawyers and Commissioners very well know FFW because they studied jurisprudence on FFW landmark cases since 1950.

The FFW, which has historical ties with the Catholic church is running under a pro-labor platform that advocates decent work.

FFW did its homework

Through Resolution No. 8744 released last Friday, the Comelec en banc gave the go-signal to 144 out of the more than 300 party-list groups that filed their manifestations of intent to participate in the coming elections.The FFW maintains that its 150,000 members across the nation has the capacity to wage a grass roots-based national campaign.

COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez said last Friday that they believe that they already have the final list of candidates. “We have already done our part, and we would not sacrifice the conduct of orderly elections just for one or two groups who did not do theirs… Remember, the right to be elected is not an absolute right," he said.

The FFW took offense on this statement since it believes it did its homework by “filing its petition for accreditation ahead of time, completing the requirements, attending the hearing on the petition and satisfactorily answering the questions raised by the COMELEC.”

National and international recognition

Montaño said that the FFW is not lacking in recognition, even by government agencies. “The Philippine government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has continually recognized the FFW since 1950, as a responsible trade union and tripartite partner,” he said.

He also highlighted that the FFW has garnered recognition in the international arena. “The International Labour Organization (ILO) and other UN agencies have recognized the FFW as workers’ representative,” he asserted. Leaders of the FFW have consistently joined the Philippine delegation to the International Labour Conference held each year in Geneva.

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