Decades into the struggle

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Friday, July 25, 2014


HE HAS been with the militant movement for over three decades now but Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)-Mindanao spokesperson and former Anak Pawis representative Joel B. Maglunsod is showing no signs of putting down his fist just yet as he continues to fight for the rights of laborers.

Maglunsod, in an interview with Sun.Star Davao, said he has long been an advocate of laborers’ rights as he started joining militant groups back when he was still a college student in the 70s and he became more immersed with the community and more participative in the movement during the 80s. Since then, he has worked with different organizations in an attempt to change the living conditions of the people in the working class who are among the country’s most marginalized sectors.

But in the course of joining labor groups and conducting pickets, he got arrested in 1984 during the Ferdinand Marcos regime but was later released after two years. His two-year incarceration, however, had not affected his passion to serve the people. It kindled a more fiery passion instead as he became one of the pioneers of KMU when it was formed in 1986.

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His hard work and dedication to his advocacy even earned him a slot in the congress as he became the representative of Anak Pawis during the 14th Congress of the Philippines in 2007.

Maglunsod, however, admitted that it was difficult for him to juggle his time for his active participation in the movement and his family. He also said that he was financially distressed while going to communities. There were no regrets for him, nonetheless, as he said he feels fulfilled whenever he has helped out laborers and unions.

“The mere fact nga akong trabaho is community work, sila na pud ang naga-pangita ug paagi para makatabang sa amoa pero dako na gyud kaayong Consuelo ang makatabang pud sa ila at the same time kung sila pud ang mutabang, (The mere fact that my job is a community work, it is them who find ways to help us but is already a huge comfort for us that we have helped them and at the same time they assist us as well.)” Maglunsod said.

He also said that as a seminarian from the St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary of Mindanao, he has also applied the Christian principles primarily justice in airing out his advocacy for laborers’ rights. But he did not follow the path to priesthood saying that the Christian values could be practiced thoroughly if he is serving the people. His knowledge in labor-related issues was also enriched after acquiring bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Philosophy.

Currently Maglunsod has been going in different parts of Mindanao to conduct information dissemination drives. He is also assisting his fellow KMU members in addressing concerns of aggrieved laborers.

“For decades we have been protesting on the same issues and the only thing that varies is the perpetrators. Apparently, this is a systemic problem that we are facing and until there are no changes in the system, we will not stop until the welfare of our laborers and union members will improve. That is why I am encouraging young people to continue the fight.

After all, it is also for their own welfare,” Maglunsod said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 26, 2014.

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