August 22, 2011

Fellow COMELEC Employees:

Due to the constant barrage of baseless allegations and groundless attacks on our persons, the undersigned rank and file employees of this Honorable Commission and duly elected officers of the Alliance of COMELEC Employees in Service (ACES), wishes to make the following statement in order to shed light on the copious lies being peddled by those who claim to represent the democratic interests of COMELEC employees at the expense of disparaging and maligning our characters and wreaking disunity and confusion among the rank and file.

In the past few days, many employees have been witness to some personalities doing the rounds at some Departments in the Main Office, soliciting signatures from employees asking for their authorization so that the ACES President may appoint “Ad-interim” officials of ourUnion, resulting in the arbitrary removal of the four of us in the ACES leadership. Conspicuously absent on that spurious document they were peddling on August 17, 2011, were the reasons justifying such drastic and utterly dictatorial move from the ACES President Luallah Pama.

Nevertheless, the ACES President and her ilk were not short on lies and libelous insults trained on our characters in their desperate bid to convince the employees to affix their signatures to that piece of worthless document.

Apparently, according to them; we, with Mr. Mark Ramirez acting as our so-called ring leader, are actually involved in “union busting” activities and that we have been trying our hardest to “discredit” some officers of the ACES, who according to them have been working “since 2004” for the benefits of the COMELEC employees.

They said that we have been using the name of the ACES, without consent from the President, in pushing for the salary increase of rank and file employees. The ACES President, were even reportedly seen by many employees at the 8th floor of the Palacio del Gobernador walking frantically, telling everybody that she’s being “framed up” and was “betrayed” (trinaydor).

Aside from this, the known associate of the ACES President and ACES Auditor George Albayda have been busy on Facebook posting ridiculously groundless insinuations, amateurish claims and juvenile tirades specifically targeted against Mr. Ramirez on Friday, August 19, 2011. (Attached PDF)

This self-proclaimed champion of the rank and file and so-called spokesperson of Ms. Pama and the ACES union – while making a complete fool of himself and of those whom he claim to represent –   Mr. Albayda was so desperate to convince the COMELEC employees who are members of the ACES FB group that the name of the ACES are now put in a “steamy and smelly sewer” (mainit at nangangamoy na imburnal) because we have been consistent in calling for a substantial wage increase.

As if forwarding this legitimate call was anti-employee, Mr. Albayda proudly alleged that Ms. Pama was berated and was even cursed at by the COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes because the call for wage increase, according to him, is making “noise”.

There were other impertinent accusations that Mr. Albayda threw, but we deemed it best to not honor them with even a whimper of reply. Who would want to sink to his level, to his skewed concept of “healthy and intelligent exchange of ideas” that are common only to thugs and lumpens in gangland? Certainly, not us.

And so, as elected officers of our union, we brushed aside their baseless diatribe against us and chose to just carry on with our mandate to serve the interest of the rank and file.

As a matter of fact, we have been doing so since March 4, 2011, when the ACES Board, by the vote of 5 to 2, decided to revise the ACES Constitution and By-Laws. Only Mr. Ramirez (Vice-President for Internal Affairs) and Mr. Gel Gerardino (Secretary-General) voted against the move. Messrs Mallorca and Macasu were absent during that Board Meeting, attending to some official duties in the office.

Mr. Ramirez, on that same day, issued an open letter addressed to the ACES Board calling for “principled unity, union democracy and service” (Attached PDF). He believed that changing the CBL at that time would only derail our objective of registering our union before the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) and of finally seeking accreditation from the Civil Service Commission (CSC), paving the way for the institutionalization of our economic and non-economic benefits.

Besides, he stressed, that revising the CBL, by mere action of the Board, constitutes a breech in our CBL which wasduly ratified and approved (Attached PDF) by the general assembly on January 21, 2011. (Common rules of procedure in any organization dictates that only the membership, in a general assembly, have the right to revise a CBL.)

Also Ms. Pama committed another gross disrespect to the membership by adamantly refusing to sign the approved CBL.

But instead of giving due course to Mr. Ramirez’s appeal to the ACES Board, Ms. Pama and Mr. Albayda relentlessly berated and scolded Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Gerardino, claiming that the two were only out to sow disunity in the Alliance and that they are just “too young” to know what’s best for the Union.

When Ramirez and Gerardino asked the proponents of the CBL revision (Ms. Pama and Mr. Albayda) the reasons why they are persistently pushing for such a move, they were only told to “MAGBASA KAYO! MARAMING MALI DIYAN!” Asked what was wrong in the CBL, they shouted back, “BASTA!”

The ACES Board on March 4, decided also to meet after a week to thresh out the supposed revisions to the CBL. But no such meeting transpired.

Several attempts were made by Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Gerardino to convince Ms. Pama to call for a meeting, but they were repeatedly given the cold shoulder treatment and were denied. (Ms. Pama, apparently, was busy at that time doing revision work for her Department).

In fact, come May 5, 2011, the majority of the ACES Board (Ramirez, Mallorca, Gerardino, Macasu, Diaz and Ipo) formally wrote the ACES President (Attached PDF) imploring her to call for a meeting “to resolve pressing organizational matters” and to finally start the process of the CBL revision as resolved during the March 4 meeting.

Needless to say, since that unfortunate meeting of March 4th, the ACES Board has not met again. 

Considering the deliberate silence of Ms. Pama and her associate Albayda on the real reason behind their staunch move to revise our Constitution, we couldn’t help but suspect that they are motivated solely by selfish interests.

In not a few occasions and meetings of the ACES ad hoc committee before the ACES January 21, 2011 General Assembly, Ms. Pama raised her position that ACES Officers should be given salaries, honoraria and medical insurance and insisted even that such specific provisions on the matter be included in the ACES CBL. We vehemently opposed this self-serving motion, every time Ms. Pama raises it. 

Salaries, honoraria and medical insurance for ACES leaders are, of course, NOT found in our Constitution and By-Laws. (And so as in other pro-employee Unions in the public sector.)

Ms. Pama also pronounced that her powers as president in the approved CBL was diluted as one reason why she refused to sign the ratified CBL.

Are these the reason why Ms. Pama and her ilk are so bent on amending our Constitution? If not, then by all means, kindly give us a straight-forward answer to once and for all settle this lingering question.

We would like to note that the ACES President has not affixed her signature in the ACES CBL that was RATIFIED and APPROVED by the General Assembly. This in itself is a clear violation of union democracy and an affront to the ACES members who were present during the ratification of the very important organizational document.

The foregoing said and considered, allow us to clarify some matters being alluded to us by Ms. Pama and Mr. Albayda:

1.              That we are using the ACES without authorization from the President to forward our call for salary increase

–          For the information of all, the signature drive for the substantial increase in our wages is not an initiative of the ACES, but of the COMELEC Wage Fight!Alliance. As already stated above, the ACES have not been functioning since March and that no meeting of the ACES was called by the President since then. This is the reason why some of the members of the ACES Board took it upon themselves to organize the COMELEC Wage Fight!Alliance.
–          It is of no surprise that when the COMELEC Wage Fight! Petition reached their Department (ECAD), they didn’t affix their signatures.
–          It is true that when we forwarded the signed petition paper (signed by hundreds of COMELEC employees nationwide) to the Honorable Commission en banc thru Chairman Brillantes on August 3, 2011 (Attached) – Messrs Ramirez and Mallorca wrote their positions in ACES aside from being COMELEC Wage Fight Convenors.
–          But aren’t they allowed to do so? Were they not duly elected officers of the ACES, who despite the sheer failure of the President to perform her functions, decided to carry out their duties and responsibilities in which they were elected in the first place? In fact we believe that any employee of the Commission, whether part of ACES or not, has the right to campaign for their own well-being.
–                    Besides, if we are to follow the President’s skewed sense of organizational dynamics, were Mr. Mallorca and Ramirez still ACES officers at the time they forwarded the petition paper? “Ad Interim” Officials of the ACES were only magically “appointed” by the President last August 17, 2011, remember?

2.              That Chairman Sixto Brillantes berated and even cursed at Ms. Pama because, as alleged by Mr. Albayda, there are people calling for wage increase

–          We find this very hard to believe.
–          As the Champion of COMSTRAT 1116 (COMELEC Strategic Plan 2011-2016) Pillar 6, which calls for “improving the salary and compensation” of COMELEC employees before 2012, Chairman Brillantes’ alleged outburst on Ms. Pama is quite unfathomable.
–          Aside from this, the Honorable Chairman has replied to Messrs Ramirez and Mallorca on August 9, 2011, (attached) assuring us of “appropriate action/steps to immediately address” our appeal for wage increases.
–          Perhaps, the Honorable Chairman could help us shed light on this very serious allegation.

3.              That according to the same peddler of lies, the Honorable Chairman is vehemently “against unions” and that he was even disappointed over the COMELEC Wage Fight! Alliance’s choice of Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan as a speaker during the Wage Forum last August 20, 2011 

–          How could this be? To recall, after the ACES leadership met with the Chairman on early February, the ACES issued a Manifesto (attached PDF) expressing support for the newly appointed COMELEC Chair for he is “more open to act upon the legitimate calls of the COMELEC rank and file employees unlike his predecessor.”
–          Chairman Brillantes is also a veteran lawyer, who certainly knows that forming unions and pushing for the rights and welfare of the employees are well within the purview of the law.
–          Again, perhaps the COMELEC Chairman can help us shed light on this very serious allegation.
–          For all intents and purposes, Atty. Rafanan was chosen as speaker during the Wage forum because of his open support for the calls to increase the rank and file salaries, which was the heart and soul of the said forum.
–          Any individual and personality are most welcome to the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance so long as he or she supports our cause.
–          If there are persons or groups that are unhappy with Atty. Rafanan, it is not the main concern of the rank and file.

4.              That the undersigned were arbitrarily ousted at the ACES leadership by virtue only of a Memo from the ACES President on August 17, 2011 (Attached PDF) seeking authorization from members to carry out the same

–          This is the last straw that finally broke the camel’s back.
–          As elected officials of the ACES, we view this as the President’s greatest act of treachery not only to our persons but, more so, to the thousands of COMELEC rank and file employees nationwide to whom we owe our mandate as ACES officials.
–           The President’s arbitrary and dictatorial act of ousting elected officials without due process is against the principle of union democray and immoral in any book.

Thus in the interest of union democracy, fairness and justice, we the undersigned are calling on ALL COMELEC RANK AND FILE EMPLOYEES to stand up for what is right. Naniniwala kaming alam na ninyo ngayon kung sino ang nasa TAMA at kung sino ang nasa KAMALIAN.

In the meantime, as individuals committed to serve the rank and file employees, we commit to soldier on. Our call for a substantial wage increase is finally gaining ground. We choose to work tirelessly in order to bring this dream of ours into fruition rather than to stress ourselves in engaging those few, who largely on their own doing, have successfully unmasked their characters as selfish and rabidly anti-employee.

Lastly, we are calling for an emergency General Assembly of the ACES as soon as possible if only to give the members a venue to confront, challenge, if not, uproot the creeping dictatorship in our Union.

We end this statement with a quote from Gat Andres Bonifacio:

“Reason tells us that we must not waste our time waiting in vain for promises of felicity that will never come, that will never materialize. Reason tells us that we must rely upon ourselves alone and never entrust our rights and our life to anyone else. Reason teaches us to be united in sentiment, thought and purpose, so that we may acquire the strength necessary to crush the evil that is affecting our people… 

Therefore, o my countrymen! Let us scatter the mist that befogs our intellect, and let us consecrate all our strength to the good cause, with unshakable and absolute faith in its success, and in the ultimate prosperity, so anxiously desired of us, by the land of our birth.”

Yours in service,

(sgd)                                                                             (sgd)

Mark Christopher Ramirez                    Armando M. Mallorca


(sgd)                                                                                      (sgd)

Joselito Gerardino                                                     Edward Macasu