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Free Workers to file petition for resolution of party-list accreditation
January 17, 2010

Party-list hopeful Federation of Free Workers (FFW) will file with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on Monday, a petition for the poll body’s immediate resolution of its application for party-list accreditation.

“We will file today our Urgent Motion to Resolve the Petition for Registration and Accreditation of the FFW in the forthcoming national elections,” said Atty. Allan S. Montaño, FFW National President.

“Our members were outraged after finding out that the FFW was excluded in the Comelec’s list of party-list organizations allowed to participate in this year’s elections despite having timely filed said petition,” added Montaño.

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.

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

“We will be back on Tuesday with our members and supporters in a show of force and in exercise of our democratic rights which is in danger because of this exclusion,” added Montaño, who heads a labor group composed of 150,000 members.

The FFW, a Christian inspired trade union, hopes to run under a pro-labor platform that espouses decent work.

Pending petition for accreditation

While the COMELEC resolution provides that the decision is “without prejudice to the approval of the petitions for registration now pending for resolution with the Commission” as in the case of the FFW, the tenor of the public declarations of COMELEC officials is alarming for the labor group.

"With this, we now have the list of candidates of national positions and party-list organizations for May 10, 2010… We already have all the names we will print on the front side of the ballot," Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal told reporters last Friday.

Not doing its part

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 time and again since 1950, as a responsible trade union and tripartite partner,” he said.

He also highlighted that the FFW has also 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.

“While we have represented workers in various forums at various levels, we lack participation in law making processes. Thus, the pressing need to participate in the party-list elections,” Montaño concluded.

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