GMA, ALU swap endorsements

By Allan I. Varquez, Sun.Star Staff Reporter With Minerva B. Gerodias, Sun.Star, Sunday 18 April 2004

PRESIDENT Arroyo flew to Cebu yesterday for the anniversary of a homegrown federation of trade unions and was rewarded with a pledge of support for the May 10 elections.

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) announced its support for Arroyo's bid for a fresh mandate, citing her administration's work in housing and employment.

Arroyo, for her part, assured support for the moderate labor group's bid to land a seat in Congress through the party-list system.

Kamo gyud ang kauban sa coalition sa K-4 and this year, in your 50th anniversary, (I hope) the golden gift of the people for you is your joining Congress, she said in her speech.

She said she considers TUCP a full partner in the coalition that is supporting her candidacy, and in part credits the creation of one million new jobs every year during her term to ALU's understanding of the world and regional situations and their responsible unionism.

She said ALU was unlike other groups that made excessive demands, but did not comment on the labor group's petition, filed last week in Cebu, to seek a P50 increase in the daily minimum wage.

Kamo sa ALU dili gyod mohimo ug unreasonable demands kay ang inyong gusto madaghan ang trabaho (ALU does not make unreasonable demands because you want to create more jobs), Arroyo said.

At least one battalion of police and military personnel was sent to the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City yesterday afternoon for the President's visit.

Her declaration of K4's alliance with the labor group came after ALU-TUCP national executive vice president Cecilio Seno read to her their manifesto of support for her candidacy.

After the manifesto was read, ALU officials and members stood up, chanting, GMA! GMA!

Arroyo also solicited support for her senatorial slate although only Sen. Robert Jaworski stayed to listen to her speech.

Most of the K4 senatorial candidates made themselves visible in the gathering before Arroyo arrived at the hotel about 6 last night with Cebu City Mayor Tomas OsmeƱa and Reps. Antonio Cuenco and Raul del Mar.

After her speech, Arroyo proceeded to a room on the sixth floor where she had a one-on-one interview with newspaper columnist and TV host Valeriano Avila.

If she gets a full six-year term, Arroyo promised to create one million jobs a year, help the self-employed, provide potable water for all barangays, lower the power rate in 1,500 barangays, cut the price of medicine by half and build 3,000 school buildings, each with a computer center.

She also told Avila that she favors a federal or a parliamentary form of government.

ALU-TUCP national president Democrito Mendoza urged members in a speech to vote only for those who support their cause and Arroyo, who, he said, was always with them.

He said unity, camaraderie, brotherhood and solidarity have been the hallmark of the federation and these will be the same ideals that each member will live by.

Our struggle is a never-ending one. For as long as there are workers, there are rights that need to be upheld and protected. For as long as there are employers who blatantly shut their ears to the demands, there will be a need to raise our voices even higher, and for as long as inequity reigns in our land, ALU will continue to fight, he said, to the applause of the crowd.