LAST Monday’s nine-hour-long hostage drama at a shopping center in San Juan City has once more focused on the problems of unjust and illegal labor practices in impoverished Philippines.
And if there is one good lesson that can be learned from the hostage drama, it is the importance of encouraging labor and management to settle their disputes through peaceful means.
While castigating the actions of the hostage taker, neophyte Senator Joel Villanueva said the claims of Alchie Paray, a former security guard, should not be shrugged off “outright.”
Villanueva is chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development.
“While we lament that the suspect had to resort to taking hostages to call the attention against his former employer, it seems his grievances went unaddressed which led to the incident,” he said.
He urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to look into the labor practices of security agencies, notably their compliance to general labor and occupational and health standards.
Among the general labor standards that DOLE inspectors check include: payment of correct wages, including overtime, night shift differential and holiday pay; weekly rest day; provision of welfare facilities; and assurance of safe working conditions.
Villanueva asked the labor department, headed by Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, to look into the matter because “we cannot afford another similar incident that will affect innocent people.”
The government, through DOLE, should act now – and fast – considering the fact that the country’s security guards, many of them former military and police officers and men, are armed.