Bad luck streak

ROSALINDA BALDOZ  will go down in history as the labor secretary who mangled the labor –management relations in the country. She legitimized labor contractualization, which practically encouraged outsourcing of manpower needs of industries under the guise of being competitive to global demands.

But organized labor claims she had subverted “constitutionally-guaranteed rights to security of tenure and freedom of self-organization.”

Let’s say that Baldoz really wants reforms in the country’s industrial relations system. That’s the reason why she has been calling for “self-regulation,” particularly in the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

She even attended the signing of the so-called voluntary code of good practices by the BPO industry. As she put it, the Aquino administration really wants to move away from overdependence on government to self-governance in dealing with industry issues.

But again, she was warned that if reforms in the BPO industry were not implemented, the country could
become a” modern-day sweatshop for the services sector.”

It seems that Baldoz has been struck with a streak of bad luck. She’s losing popularity in the labor sector, although her Department is supposed to be in charge of protecting their rights.

Now, the decision of President Aquino not to submit her name for confirmation in the Commission on Appointments was lauded at least by a group of employees in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

These restive workers alleged that Baldoz was helpless in fighting corruption and irregularities in her own department.

Just recently, the group calling themselves Crusade against Corrupt and Licentious Employees in the Government reportedly circulated in DOLE offices a white paper exposing alleged irregularities and immorality cases involving DOLE apparatchiks.

We can ignore this as a simple case of a smear campaign by disgruntled employees.  They never really presented evidence to validate their charges. But I suggest that Baldoz should not have just ignored the
charges.  It may be a Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened.

There is the case of a middle-level official who allegedly connived with her lover to control and manipulate the registration of safety practitioners for DOLE accreditation.

Then there is another director who allegedly managed to modify a position of a ranking official from a co-terminus to a regular item. Still, another lady director allegedly made money by making it appear that a seminar was conducted in a five-star hotel when in fact it was conducted only in one of the function rooms of the Department.

Officers of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices were also accused by the so-called “Crusade” to be generating   extra money through illegal and highly questionable transactions with recruiters. Three of them were even accused of immorality for having an illicit affair with married men.

But I found out that these alleged exposé were not really new. They have been there for a long time. Yet Baldoz, like her predecessors, has not done anything to put a stop these anomalous practices.

Actually, the labor secretary reportedly urged employees in one of her inspirational talks to write their suggestions, complaints and other concerns. This encouraged the Crusade to present a white paper, but decided to hide their identity for fear of reprisal.

It was gathered that Baldoz immediately ignored the Crusade’s complaint, instead of conducting an investigation and ask those officials named in the paper to go on voluntary leave of absence.

As a result, one official who was named in the white paper later threatened to go after suspected Crusade members and file criminal charges against every one in the DOLE whom he believed to have authored the white paper. He even wanted that the cases will be filed in Mindanao.

In the meantime, those officials who were linked to alleged irregularities still enjoy their nefarious activities, and unless Baldoz acts on it, they remain untouchables in the service.

Alas, Secretary Baldoz could hardly make things work out right. Joel Paredes

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