In a letter signed by 59 endorsers—39 organizations and 20 individuals—and sent to Aquino, these people recommended Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo, former Dean of the University of the Philippines’ School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP-SOLAIR), for the post of labor secretary, one of the toughest jobs in government and an often aspired-for position by politicians.
Citing Aquino’s Social Contract with the Filipino People, which underscored the primacy of “integrity, humility and trust-worthiness in public leadership,” the groups said these are the qualities that the 60-year old Ofreneo has exhibited throughout his eight years of service as SOLAIR dean, as a recognized leading scholar in the Philippines and Asia on labor and industrial relations, as advocate of a pro-poor development agenda and as volunteer arbitrator for the labor department, among other functions he performed.
“He is dedicated not only to labor concerns but also to industry growth, affording him a holistic approach to labor justice and economic vision, which was shaped by direct knowledge of and interaction with unionized industrial and service sector employees, SME workers, migrant workers, informal workers, and farm workers. He also has valuable experience in arbitration and labor relations and strong commitment to tripartite industrial processes and industrial harmony, enabling him to work well with different constituencies and to communicate effectively to various audiences. With him at the helm of DOLE, we are certain that he will be able to inspire cooperation and help from various sectors of civil society and the business sector,” said the groups and individuals supporting Ofreneo in the letter they sent to the President-elect on June 14.
Corinna Lopa of the South East Asian Committee for Advocacy, who signed as individual, said that she endorsed the former dean because of his expertise on labor and industrial relations not only in the Philippines but in the Asian context as well.
Ofreneo served as a research-education consultant (2000-2009) of the Asia-Pacific Regional
Organization of the Union Network International (UNI-Apro) headquartered in Singapore, and as Regional Trustee (2001-2008) of the Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), an Asia-Pacific labor research-advocacy group based in Hong Kong. He also chaired the economic workshops in the regional consultation-dialogues (2006-2007) with the NGOs organized by the ASEAN
Secretariat for the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) and the High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on the
“He more than qualifies for the post. We badly need a qualified and progressive secretary in DOLE. He is the only labor leader-academician who has thought out a plan for the incorporation of environmental concerns into worker education initiatives” says Dr. Buenaventura Dargantes of Ofreneo. Dr. Dargantes is with the Institute for Social Research and Development Studies Visayas State University; he signed in an individual capacity.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who signed as member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines –National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA), called on Aquino to regard the Filipinos, especially those from the basic sectors such as the workers, as “partners in nation-building” and for the new administration “to work towards the expansion of political and economic spaces for poor and marginalized Filipinos.”
“Count on us to dream big for our country and to contribute positively to the rebuilding of national institutions that have been damaged by years of failed governance and lack of concern for the public good,” the bishop assured the country’s new leader.
The national organizations that signed the endorsement letter are labor groups and informal workers’ associations; farm workers, farmers and fishers’ groups; industry and business groups; Catholic Church-based organization; trade and development advocacy networks; research, analysis and advocacy groups, and; development NGOs. - FOP
• After the letter was sent to the President-Elect through various channels, more supporters have signified their support of Dean Rene Ofreneo. Click here to read the letter, and here for the list of additional signatories after June 14.
• Please address inquiries to Jenina Joy Chavez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 4330899.