TUCP rejects calls for resignation of Labor Secretary

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) today rejected calls for the resignation of Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas as it called for a sober and impartial investigation into the violent clash between striking workers and elements of the police in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac two weeks ago.

TUCP issued the statement in response to calls made by a number of legislators for Sto. Tomas to owe up the responsibility for the deaths of seven persons killed in the clash by resigning from her post.

The statement comes in as the House of Representatives and Senate committees on labor and human rights conduct separate inquiries into the incident.

TUCP opined that such calls are baseless and will not help in unearthing the facts behind the tragic incident.

The clash erupted after Tarlac police backed up by military personnel tried to enforce a return-to-work and assumption order issued by Sto. Tomas on the workers. The striking workers were joined by thousands of supporters reportedly brought in by leftist organizations.

“We appeal to legislators not to yield to populist calls and rise above the emotionalism of the moment by refraining from calling for the ouster of officials who have been dutifully executing the functions of their offices,” TUCP said.

“Let us give justice to the seven people who lost their lives by concluding an impartial investigation on the tragedy. The inquiries should ensure that all sides are able to present their cases and make those who are to be found responsible for the senseless deaths account for their actions,” TUCP added.

TUCP also stressed that the assumption and return-to-work orders issued by Sto. Tomas were based on existing laws on labor relations and are generally accepted practice.

“Sto. Tomas is well-versed with labor relations having been with the labor department for the last 30 years. She also went under the tutelage the late Secretary Blas P. Ople, a known labor affairs expert” TUCP said.

Since Sto. Tomas assumed the labor portfolio in 2001 the country experienced the lowest number of strikes. In 2003 there were only 30 strikes that were registered.

The TUCP also called on legislators to allow investigative agencies, including the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP), as well as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conclude their separate investigations before drawing any judgment.

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