Age is not just a number

Posted by Admin | Posted in Employee Rights and Benefits, Employment, Labor Law, Thoughts | Posted on 02-10-2010

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For Gretchen Barreto, “40 is just a number”. But for PAL’s cabin crew, 40 is a crucial point of their lives, because when they reach this age, they will have to find another job and say goodbye to PAL. Under the existing CBA, male and female flight attendants who were hired from November 2000 will be retired at the age of 40. Recently, flight attendants have expressed resentment over this provision and attempted to negotiate with the PAL management, through their bargaining agent – the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP). However, negotiations failed and the employees have already filed a notice of strike last August 9, 2010. Attempts at conciliation and mediation having failed, the employees are expected to hold their strike sometime during the first week of November after the requisite strike vote has been conducted and the DOLE is notified of the vote results.  Asia’s pioneer airlines could be facing a major setback in its operations during the later part of this year, if the intended strike pushes through.

Earlier in 2004, some female flight attendants of PAL filed a special civil action for declaratory relief before the Makati RTC, assailing the constitutionality and legality of the CBA provision which provides that the retirement age for flight attendants who were hired before 1996 is 55 for females and 60 for males. The female attendants alleged that this was gender-discriminatory. As of this date, I am not aware of any recent decision on this case.  If this case is decided against PAL, this will be another problem for its management.

Age is, indeed, not just a number.  From it springs controversies that affect people’s livelihood.  It may even affect the operation of important public services such as air transportation.

“Give chance to others” (Political Dynasties in the Philippines)

Posted by Admin | Posted in Elections, Philippine Constitution, Thoughts | Posted on 19-06-2010

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By the end of this month, another Aquino will officially become President of our republic. And in many parts of the country, local officials who happen to be members of political families or dynasties will assume their posts. We are not surprised because this culture has been around since the Spanish colonial era where the mestizos or the ilustrados dominate the political scene. These clans have been controlling local governments for so long that elections have become meaningless. The results are almost always predictable.

A study of the elites in Philippine politics by Dante Simbulan showed that from 1946 to 1963, there were 169 families that dominated our political arena.[1] These families have produced 584 public officials, including seven Presidents, two Vice Presidents, 42 Senators, and 147 Representatives.[2] With the span of more than forty years, the figures have surely skyrocketed by now.

We have seen and heard of these names and faces.  We have complained so much about how a select few have controlled and corrupted our country.  We cry afoul when they steal government funds or when they oppress us in any way.  But we have only done so little or nothing at all to reduce, if not eliminate, this perennial problem. It has long become obvious to us that the political elite generally desire to promote only their own benefit. But we still willingly send them to the city hall or capitol building while we watch them grow richer and us poorer.

Our Constitution (Section 26, Article II) [3] wanted to prohibit political dynasties. I said it “wanted to” because it did not expressly and simply state that political dynasties are prohibited. It gave our lawmakers the prerogative to define what a political dynasty is and the scope and limitations of the law that will prohibit it. And since Section 26, Article II of our present Constitution is not a self-executing provision[4] we can only wait in vain before our senators or congressmen/women could finally have the graciousness and altruism to finally end their overdue occupancy of government offices.

Now since an Anti-Political Dynasty Law seems too remote in the minds of our dear politicians, the best way we can end this elite dominance is to select “brand new” leaders.  It should be new not only in terms of family affiliation but also in terms of leadership and governance. We failed to do this in the recent national elections. But we still have another chance in the coming barangay elections. After all, it is our barangay officials who are nearer to us. They are the ones whom we can directly talk to and who can feel and understand our needs and aspirations for our community.


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[3] Section 26, Article II, 1987 Constitution: The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law. (emphasis mine)

[4] A self-executing provision is one that does not require any law for it to be enforceable. It can be invoked directly by the proper party (or person affected) in any court or proper forum or tribunal.