RECIEVING the letter of the Association of Laborers and Employees (ALE) Monday was timely. I was experiencing a writer's block and did not know what topic to write about.
The last paragraph of ALE's letter was amusing. It says that I'm apparently misguided, if not stonehearted as regards the party-list group led by Second District Board Member Catalina Bagasina, the former three-term mayor of Sasmuan.
Let me start by stressing once more that the "life and struggles" - or even the passion - of BM Bagasina who worked as an "ambulant fish vendor, a housemaid a clerk and all sorts of a worker who suffered a hard and trying life" before she became a multi-millionaire entrepreneur and local official is neither a reason nor an excuse to become a congresswoman through a party-list group that invokes employees and laborers as the marginalized sector it represents.
Repeatedly citing the hardships experienced in younger life by the multi-millionaire former town mayor and present-day board member is aimed only at attracting voters' sympathy. Nothing else.
Perhaps the one who wrote the letter to the editor defending BM Bagasina from criticism must read again my column last January 28. I never said that the law requires a founder of a laborer's party-list group to be a chair of a local legislature's human resources or labor committee.
What I stated was: "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."
If the Party-List System Act does not require those who want to become members of the Congress to be among the marginalized and underrepresented sectors - or at least have real (not just imagined) and clear track records of fighting for the said sectors' rights and welfare - then anybody can organize party-list groups to "represent" any marginalized sector of the society.
Don't just look at the words of the law. Laws like statutes, executive acts, and jurisprudence are not just about the words per se but also about their sense and intents.
I don't know why the writer of BM Bagasina's defense misinterpreted the simply written 7th paragraph of my January 28 column. I did not say BM Bagasina lacked well-defined political constituencies. Here's what I said: "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."
BM Bagasina's defense writer also said "ALEng Lina is not ALE perse" but "the mere founder and its national chair" - while he/she kept on referring to BM Bagasina as ALEng Lina, which obviously highlights ALE party-list. Ironic, isn't it?
Let's assume that the party-list law is not violated when a multi-millionaire former mayor and incumbent board member had chosen to "represent" laborers in her ambition to become an honorable congresswoman. But what about good traits and our society's mores? The "silence" of the law on something - that can be "heard" only through its sense and intent - does not justify things that common sense itself says as wrong.
Did BM Bagasina organize ALE because she truly wants to fight for the good of the laborers or she just wants to become a congresswoman? Both? Yeah, right!
Yes, the party-list law does not prohibit those who claim to have understanding and compassion for laborers to become party-list congressmen. But alleged understanding and compassion without notable past pro-laborer actions does not make one a true representative of the laborers.
If BM Bagasina and ALE did lift a finger to assist the 112 Magnolia employees and their respective families upon the imposition of their terminal leave last January 4, perhaps ALE should cite concrete instances, including the date and circumstances involved in the "assistance."
ALE's claim "to fight for the welfare of employees and laborers in the country" is nothing but words, if not campaign statement to attract votes for the May 10 polls. And words are nothing without recorded past and present actions.
BM Bagasina's defense writer wants me to "assess, re-assess and be informed" about the true nature of ALE. He/she also accused me of being "apparently misguided, if not stonehearted."
Fascinating suggestion and accusation. But it's okay. Politicians and political groups normally describe anything adversarial to their interests as wrong or misguided. Perhaps I'm guilty of being stonehearted, as I usually find myself relentless, sometimes even coldhearted, when speaking about or fighting for something I believe is fair and right.