12 January 2011
“We want justice for Sarah and for all aviation workers who have suffered abuse from customers, especially politicians and government officials!”
This is the demand of Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) in response to Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE) Party-List Representative Eulogio Magsaysay’s “sorry” after members of PALEA and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) picketed his residence in Greenhills, San Juan.
PALEA plans to file cases against Magsaysay at the Ombudsman and House Ethics Committee next week. The Philippine Airlines (PAL) ground crew union is insisting that Magsaysay has liabilities under the law that cannot be simply dismissed through an apology. “Magsaysay must face the consequences of his abusive action and sexist remarks,” argued Ginalyn Licayan, head of PALEA’s Women Committee which is assisting fellow member Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo.
Judy Ann Miranda, secretary-general of PM which is supporting Ocampo’s fight for justice, claimed that “Sarah’s case is just the tip of the iceberg. Frontline service workers in the airline industry and call centers among others suffer indignities in the workplace through no fault of their own but receive no protection from their employers or the government. Sarah’s fight is a fight for the dignity of workers.”
Licayan quoted from Republic Act No. 6713 or the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees”, which in the Declaration of Policy found in Section 2 states that: “It is the policy of the State to promote a high standard of ethics in public service. Public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest.”
Licayan also pointed out that according to the Women’s Crisis Centre (WCC), a non-government organization with expertise in assisting violated women and children and which is handling Ocampo’s psychological needs, the verbal abuse that Ocampo was subjected to was tantamount to physical abuse, thus damaging to the dignity and self-confidence of the victim. “Hence, sorry is not enough,” she reiterated.
PALEA also lambasted PAL management’s lack of support for Ocampo. “PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna’s effort to play ‘Pontius Pilate’ smacks of PAL’s callous insensitivity to its workers. During peak season, despite the rush and stress, PAL employees stood their ground and did what management expected from hardworking and loyal employees. But now PAL is shirking from its responsibility to its employees by distancing itself from a workplace issue,” Licayan asserted.
PALEA is demanding that PAL draft a manual of operations instituting protection for employees in situations similar to Ocampo’s case.