PHILIPPINES: Government firm terminates three workers; suspends 36 others for holding protest


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-067-2008
ISSUES: Freedom of expression, Labour rights,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that a government owned firm has unfairly terminated three workers, including a union leader, and suspended 36 others for holding a symbolic protest demanding the provision of benefits due to them. Their demand is part of the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) Incentives which the union and the firm had already agreed upon nearly two years ago but were not implemented.

CASE DETAILS: (According to the information received from the regional office of the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR))

Rodrigo Aranjuez, union president of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Davao City water District (NAMADACWAD) and his two other workers, Gregorio Cagola and Celestino Bondoc, were terminated from their employment on March 19, 2008.

Engineer Rodora Gamboa, general manager of the Davao City Water District (DCWD), a government owned and controlled corporation issued a Memorandum informing the entire department of the termination of these three regular workers. Although it took effect on March 19, they were only informed five days later, March 24. Under the existing laws, they should have been informed at least 30 days before it takes effect.

Apart from the three workers, thirty six other workers were also suspended for two months for supposedly committing administrative offenses. They were charged with administrative cases for wearing T-shirts containing messages demanding the provision of benefits due and the resignation of one of the members of the board and for supposedly posting similar messages on the walls of their office.

Prior to the incident, on December 2005, the union and the DCWD officials came up with a final draft of the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) which they both signed. The agreement was made but the firm did not take action to have it implemented despite the union’s repeated follow up. It was only on May 26, 2006, after a local mayor had intervened that the agreement become final and executory.

In the agreement, it has been agreed that the about Php99 million (USD 2.3 million) savings the firm had accumulated from their productivity and cost cutting measures be divided and given as financial incentives to all the workers of the firms. However, nearly two years after the agreement was signed the workers have not been able to receive their benefits or incentives.

On May 16, 2007, the union leaders and workers began putting pressure on the DCWD officials by holding a picket in front of the DCWD office. However, the implementation of the agreement has continued to drag on despite the peaceful actions the workers had taken to put pressure on the officials.

Once again, on November 9, they held a symbolic protest when the DCWD marked its anniversary. Union leaders and members attending the activity had worn T-shirts containing messages: “CNA incentive ihatag na” (release the CNA incentives); “Dir. Braganza Pahawa Na! (Dir. Braganza resign!). Similar messages were also reported to have been posted at the walls of the office.

Braganza, whose full name is Atty. Eliseo R. Braganza Jr., is the vice chairperson representing the Civic Sector, according to their official website. Braganza allegedly strongly opposes the implementation of the agreement.

About a month after the incident, union president Rodrigo, Gregorio and Celestino and some union officers and members who had taken part in the protest were charged with administrative cases supposedly for violating the Civil Service Laws, to which the workers are governed since they are government employees. The three union leaders denied posting the said messages in the office premises.

On December 13, 2007 the union had to refrain from continuing their daily picket to observe the spirit of Christmas. They, too, sent a letter to the DCWD officials requesting them to resume talks for the implementation of the CNA agreement. However, they have not received any response from the officials.

Instead, the DCWD officials allegedly threatened all the casual or contract based employees that their contracts would not be renewed if they continued their membership with the union. Such threats had forced about 80 union members to resign their membership to ensure they could get their contracts renewed recently.

In January this year, the contracts of nine casual employees were also not renewed for allegedly taking part in the November 2007 protest. Their contracts which was supposedly to be renewed in January 2008, was put on hold because the workers were investigated for having been involved in the protest. However, the possibility of having their contracts renewed is negligible given the actions the firm has since been taking against the union leaders and members.

In a report published by Sun.Star Davao on March 28, a regional newspaper in Mindanao, Roberto delos Reyes, DCWD human resources and training director, has argued that the workers violated the Civil Service Law for holding protests within office hours.

Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below requesting for their appropriate intervention. The termination and suspension imposed on the workers should be revoked without delay. There should be an independent inquiry into allegations of threatening contract workers that their contracts would not be renewed on the basis of their membership to the union.

Please be informed that the AHRC has written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________,

PHILIPPINES: Government firm terminates three workers; suspends 36 other for holding protest

Name of workers terminated:
1. Rodrigo Aranjuez, union president of the Mamumuo sa Davao City Water District (NAMADACWAD)
2. Gregorio Cagula 
3. Celestino Bondoc, both is union members
Name of the firm: Davao City Water District (DCWD), a government-owned-and controlled corporation, in Bajada, Davao City
Names of workers whose contract not renewed:
1.  Trisebal Q. Aguilar, Operation and Maintenance Department
2.  Arman N. Lorenzo, Sr, Operation and Maintenance Department
3.  Pedro C. Gunting, Operation and Maintenance Department
4.  Alejandrito M. Alo, General Service Department
5.  Wilfredo L. Torreon, Finance and Property Department
6.  Edwin A. Dela Pena, General Services Department
7.  Jimmy A. Trocio, General Services Department
8.  Raul S.  Saga, Operation and Maintenance Department
9.  Joselito P. Riconalla Operation and Maintenance Department
List of other workers imposed with two months suspension: (Name, position in the union and name of department assigned)
1. Florante A. Ferraren, vice president of the union, Engineering and Construction Department
2. Elsa A. Elorde, secretary, Electronic and Data Processing Department
3. Carlos P. Morre, treasurer, Accounting and Budget Department
4. James Aquilino M. Coloma, auditor, Human Resource Department
5. Joaquin O. Cadorna, board of director, Production Department
6. Lorna M. Maximo, board of director, Community Relations and External Affairs Department
7. Romulo A. Reyes, board of director, Commercial Department
8. Noel G. Legaspi, board of director, Commercial Department
9. Eleonor R. Lamoste, board of director, Finance and Property Department
10. Welmer E. Crasco, board of director, Operation and Maintenance Department
11. Delio T. Olaer, board of director, Operation and Maintenance Department
12. Vicente R. Masucol, board of director, General Services Department
13. Ireneo A. Cubal, shoppe steward, Operation and Maintenance Department
14. Socrates V. Corcuera, General Services Department
15. Felixberto Q. Obenza, General Services Department
16. Alejandro C. Pichon, Operation and Maintenance Department
17. Graciano A. Moncada, General Services Department
18. Arthur C. Bachiller, Production Department
19. Romeorico A. Llanos, Operation and Maintenance Department
20. Manuel B. Libang, General Service Department
21. Reneboy U. Esteban, General Services Department
22. Joseph A. Artajo, Commercial Department
23. Rolando L. Largo, General Services Department
24. Antero M. Ymas, General Services Department
25. Joemarie B. Alba, Operation and Maintenance Department
26. Pedro A. Alcala, General Services Department
27. Danio L. Buhay, General Services Department
28. Gualberto S. Pagatpat, General Services Department
29. Joseph A. Valdez, Operation and Maintenance Department
30. Tito V. Sabangan, Production Department
31. Marcelino B. Anino, Operation and Maintenance Department
32. Juanito C. Pansacala, Operation and Maintenance Department
33. Rolando K. Escorial, Operation and Maintenance Department
34. Noel A. Dagale, Operation and Maintenance Department
35. Emilio S. Molina, Commercial Department
36. Sherwin S. Solamo, Finance and Property Department

I am writing to raise my grave concern that three government employees, including a union president, had been unfairly terminated and 36 others were imposed with suspension for two months for holding symbolic protest which demands for the provision of the benefit due them. The workers, whose names are listed above, are leaders and members of the Mamumuo sa Davao City Water District (NAMADACWAD).

The termination order imposed on union president, Rodrigo Aranjuez and two other workers, Gregorio Cagula and Celestino Bondoc, had taken effect on March 19; however, it was not until five days later that they came to know about it. I am aware that workers subject to termination should have been informed at least 30 days before it takes effect. Also, 36 other workers also learn of their suspensions on March 24.

It is extremely disappointing that these workers have been charged for supposedly violating the Civil Service Law even as they merely exercise their lawful rights to petition the government for grievances. I am aware that prior to the incident, the workers and the DCWD have already agreed upon with finality the distribution of about Php99 million as financial incentives to all workers under the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) in May 26, 2006. The money is said to have been accumulated by the firm from its productivity and cost cutting measures.

In fact, the draft was first agreed upon in December 2005. Had it not been the intervention by local chief executive in Davao City, the agreement would have not been signed with finality on May 26. However, despite the repeated follow ups by union leaders and workers for the implementation of the agreement, the DCWD officials have failed to take action on the matter.

This prompted the union leaders and members to commence a picket in front of the DCWD’s office on May 16, 2007 to put pressure on them for them to take action. Once again, despite repeated demands and follow-up, the workers have remained not been successful since their demands were continuously ignored.

As a result of the alleged inaction by the DCWD officials, the workers held their symbolic protest on November 9, 2007 by wearing shirt demanding for the implementation of the agreement and the resignation of one of the members of the board, lawyer Eliseo R. Braganza Jr. This peaceful protest by the workers in petitioning the government of their grievance have instead been used against them. They have also accused the three terminated workers of posting messages at the office’s wall premises to which they denied.

A month after the said protest, administrative charges were filed against the workers for supposedly violating the Civil Service Law for holding protest during office hours. It therefore resulted to the termination of three regular workers, including their union president; and suspension of 36 others. Apart from that, the contracts of nine casual workers which are supposed to be renewed in January this year were not renewed on the basis of their involvement in the protest. About 80 casual workers also had to cease membership with the union after having been allegedly warned that their contact will not be renewed unless they cease involvement with the union.

It is extremely disappointing how the DCWD have systematically targeted the union leaders, their members and casual workers as they exercise their lawful rights. To file charges and subsequently imposed punishments on them as they petition the government for their grievance–for the implementation of the provisions of financial benefits in the agreement–is completely unacceptable. The DCWD’s justification of the workers’ use of office hours in holding protest as grounds to take legal actions against them itself is tantamount to depriving their freedom to express their grievances.

The allegations that the DCWD’s had use threats and intimidation towards the casual workers by warning them their contract would not be renewed unless they cease membership with the union is an outright violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of association. For a state to be allowed to continuously arbitrarily violate these Constitutional rights of the labour workers effectively endorses and legitimizes these illegal acts of busting unions.

I therefore urge you to use your authority to ensure that those workers who are terminated and imposed with suspension are reinstated to their work without further delay. The decision and punishment imposed on them must be reviewed by an independent body. A credible inquiry must also be conducted to determine whether or not the concerned officials at the DCWD have exploited and abused their authority in imposing punishments on these workers.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Mrs. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188

3. Mr. Marianito Roque
Acting Secretary
Department of Labor and Employment (Dole)
7/F DOLE Building, Intramuros
Manila NCR 1002
Tel No: +63 2 527 2131

4. Engr. Rodora N. Gamboa
General Manager
Davao City Water District
Km. 5, Jose P. Laurel Avenue, Bajada, 
Davao City 8000
Fax: +63 82 226 4881
Tel: +63 82 221 9400

5. Mr. Alberto Sipaco Jr.
Regional Director
Commission on Human Rights, Region XI
Trinity Bldg., Quimpo Boulevard
8000 Davao City
Tel:  +63 82 298 3749 / 298 2233
Fax: +63 82 298 3749 / 298 2233

6. Mr. Ponciano M. Ligutom
Regional Director
Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), Region XI
R. & T. Yap Building
Corner Bangoy and Monteverde Streets
Davao City
Fax: +63 82 226 2671
Tel: +63 82 227 8772

7. Mr. Peter Favila
Department of Trade and Industry
4/F BOI Building
385 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue
Fax: +63 2 896 1166
Tel: +63 2 899 7450

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-067-2008
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Freedom of expression, Labour rights,