In one of Philippine labor’s revealing truths, a regional election officer of the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR-RAB-IVA), a branch of the Department of Labor and Employment, was caught cheating in a certification election held in Laguna today, March 22, 2013.
Election officer Marivic B. Martinez, Supervising Labor Executive Officer of the DoLE Laguna Provincial Office (LPO), was supposedly facilitating a clean and honest union certification election in Philippine Auto Components, Incorporated when workers caught her slip from her pocket a roll of ballots she switched right before vote counting was concluded.
Union poll watchers Omar Legaspi and Roman Dave Gecolea narrated that Martinez made it appear that a ballot dropped on the floor. When Martinez picked it up, she then switched it for a bunch of ballots that contained the “NO” votes. Legaspi and Gecolea immediately exposed the situation. Martinez, in an attempt to cover-up the cheating, threw the ballots, numbering to about 30.
“We felt betrayed by what we saw. We cannot believe that a DoLE officer like Ms. Martinez will commit such kind of dastardly act to defeat our election,” said Legaspi. “We are only fighting for our right to have a union inside our workplace. It is our constitutional right, but why is DoLE preventing us from getting that right?” Legaspi added.
Martinez expectedly denied the cheating and said that the said ballots she was holding were cast by a batch of workers.
“The official ballots cast are folded in three. Surprisingly, those which came from Ms. Martinez are rolled,” added Legaspi.
Legaspi, a union board member, expressed disbelief to have 30 ballots at one instance, when only 8-10 ballots are cast in every batch of voters. He also said that before the incident, Martinez prodded them to leave the area despite them being registered election poll watchers.
The cheating involving DoLE election officer Martinez is the height of election irregularities in PAC.
Meanwhile, the militant regional trade union center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU) condemns the anomalies facilitated by DoLE itself in the PAC certification election.
“Once again, and more blatantly, DoLE has proven its pro-capitalist and anti-worker character. We cannot help but think that such kinds of dirty tactics could have also been done in other certification elections leading to the workers’ loss of their unions in Daiho, Honda Parts, F-Tech, UTT, and many others in Laguna, all of which involving Martinez as election officer,” said Hermenegildo Marasigan, PAMANTIK-KMU spokesperson.
“We have filed cases at DoLE regarding questionable certification election results in the past, but up to now, the DoLE continues to just sit down on the complaints.”
“Martinez’ act proves the countless allegations against DoLE being a cohort of the capitalists in union-busting and instituting a union-free environment. We are demanding that Martinez be impeached or removed from office. This is clearly a conduct unbecoming of a labor official.”
“This kind of dirty tactic is reminiscent of the “dagdag-bawas” (add and shave) happening at the national and local election. Clearly, corruption is rampant even at the lower level of government branches,” Marasigan continued.
PAC supervisor “kidnaps” two workers
In a related incident, the workers said the management employed various tactics to sabotage the union election and dissuade workers from voting for a union inside the company.
Night before the elections, the union reported that a “kidnapping” incident was committed by Quirino Abraham Cruz, a supervisor in PAC.
Cruz forcibly took union members Abby Toledo and Rose Ann Balaaldia to ride on his car instead of boarding the shuttle, after coming out from their work at around 7:30pm. Out of fear from Cruz, the two workers were obliged to follow his orders.
When the union learned of the incident, they immediately dispatched a team to rescue the two workers. They were able to stop the car in Parian, Calamba City, just minutes away from the factory. The workers asked the assistance of a police who happened to be at the vicinity. The police asked Cruz to roll down his window and saw that the two women workers were there. When asked if they are forced to go with Cruz, the workers who were in a state of shock cannot even answer.
Cruz and the two women were brought to the Calamba City Hall. There, a certain SPO1 Reyes brought the two workers inside a room and talked with them in a closed-door session. Prior to this, Jong Arcilla, a head supervisor in PAC talked with Reyes. After the closed-door meeting, the two women refused to talk anymore about the incident.
Outside the station, the two women confided that they were told by SPO1 Reyes that kidnapping is a serious case and that if they pursue it, their work and even their families will be affected. Out of fear, the two women opted not to testify about the incident.
The union filed a police blotter of the incident.
PAC manufactures car parts and supplies it mostly to Toyota. Located at Carmelray 1 Industrial Park in Canlubang, Laguna, it has 1,122 workers, of which 601 belongs to the rank and file workers. The average wage is PhP 340-350 for pioneer workers, just slightly higher of the region’s minimum wage of PhP 337. PAC has operated in the country since 1996. Its mother company, Denso, is located in Japan.###