THE plight of the some 112 regular workers of San Miguel Corporation's Magnolia Products Division can serve as an acid test for the supposedly pro-workers party-list group Association of Laborers and Employees (ALE).

Acid test is a test used to determine whether a metal is real gold or not.

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ALE is founded and led by former Sasmuan Mayor and Second District Board Member Catalina Bagasina, who is neither a laborer nor an employee and who has never been involved in any crusade or struggle for workers' right to have decent salaries and wages and be free from any form of anti-workers policies like contractualization.

Bagasina, though serving many years as member of the Provincial Board, is not the chairperson of the legislative body's human resources or labor committee, apparently because she has not been recognized by his colleagues as having track record as active campaigner of laborers' and employees' rights.

As I cited in my column last Nov. 17, the Party-List System Act (Republic Act 7941) seeks "to enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives."

Does Bagasina belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector? No. She is a multi-millionaire businesswoman.

Does she lack well-defined political constituencies? No. She's a three-term town mayor and a three-term board member representing the people of the second district.

Is she a laborer or a member of a known laborers' group? No. She is an entrepreneur, an employer.

Some opinion writers who reacted to my column on ALE last year cited Bagasina's younger years when she was not yet a multi-millionaire, saying she understands the daily struggles of laborers, as she used to be one of them.

However, the law on party-list system does not make one who has "understanding" or "compassion" for the workers eligible to become a member of the Congress representing the laborers.

But ALE's application as a party-list group was approved by the Commission on Elections, right? Right. That's why we always hear and read the "Onli in the Pilipins" phrase.

Yesterday (Wednesday), this paper reported that the PB will look into the plight of Magnolia's regular workers who were given terminal leave by the company in favor of casual employees in a bid to minimize labor costs.

I'm sure with the alleged vast network of ALE, it has already learned about the predicaments of Magnolia workers even before this paper published their plight several days ago. The question is: Did ALE lift a finger to help or assist the 112 Magnolia employees and their families since they were given terminal leave last January 4?

If the answer is no, how can we expect ALE to fight for the welfare of employees and laborers in the country if it cannot even fight for the well-being of workers in a firm situated in the heart of Pampanga, the home province of the party-list group's leader?

An acid test will reveal what kind of element ALE is.