Sabado, Marso 19, 2011

Soft Launching of Lagman Workers' Foundation held March 17

Soft Launching of Lagman Workers' Foundation held March 17

The soft launching of the Atty. Hermon and Filemon “Ka Popoy” Lagman Workers' Foundation was held at UP SOLAIR on March 17, coincided with 58th birthday of Ka Popoy. The foundation's formal launching will be on Labor Day, which coincided with the birthday of elder brother Edcel Lagman.

The following is the details of the soft launch that can be found on the foundations' website:

March 17, 2011 was a red-letter day for labor and human rights advocates and other progressive-minded individuals and groups who gathered at the auditorium of the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations for the soft launch of the Atty. Hermon and Filemon “Ka Popoy” Lagman Workers' Foundation.

House Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman, who is the elder brother of Atty. Lagman and Ka Popoy, welcomed the guests in a very filial tone even as he paid tribute to his brothers.

“As Hermon's and Popoy's kuya, taking the helm of the foundation is the least that I can do for my dear brothers. They who dedicated the most productive years of their lives, unmindful of the risks to their personal safety and security, to defending the rights of workers, deserve far more than this,” Lagman said.

“What is due them is genuine societal change--nothing less than the realization of their common aspirations for the working class,” he underscored.

Atty. Hermon C. Lagman, a desaparecido since May 11, 1977, was a labor and human rights lawyer during martial law. Among the unions he counseled, taught and guided were those at the AG&P, Gelmart, La Tondeña, Elizalde Rope and Tondo brush factory. These were half of the ten unions that formed the core of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) on May 01, 1975. Less than five months later, on October 24, the Kaisahan ng Malayang Manggagawa sa La Tondeña, Inc. boldly went on strike marking the first and most widely hailed open defiance of the martial law strike ban. The historic two-day strike was preceded by concerted protest actions staged by the workers at Gelmart Industrial Philippines, Inc. and by the batilyos (fish haulers) at the Navotas Fish Landing and Market Authority who also had Atty. Lagman as their legal counsel.

Ka Popoy, who was assassinated on February 06, 2001, was elected National Chairman of BMP in February 1996. Immediately following his assumption of the BMP Chairmanship, Ka Popoy spearheaded the formation of the Kapatiran ng mga Pangulo ng Union sa Pilipinas (KPUP) which sought to forge unity not only among union presidents but down to the rank and file workers. He was an indefatigable leader and organizer who would help negotiate collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) but would not hesitate to call for a strike as a last resort to protect workers' rights and benefits. In a statement on Ka Popoy's death, then Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said: “Popoy Lagman was a controversial figure, but his work and his activities for which he earned the ire of many lent vigor, valor and added meaning to the Philippine labor movement. Under Lagman's tutelage, the BMP has proven to be the most militant labor movement. It is obvious that Mr. Lagman wielded strength because his methods were effective, and because many downtrodden people, specially workers found validity in his cause and a champion in his person.”

There was nostalgia as Atty. Byron Bocar, an associate of Atty. Lagman in the labor movement during martial law, reminisced how they worked together as legal counsels to various labor unions.

Mr. Sonny Melencio, President of Partido Lakas ng Masa, and Ms. Evelyn Balais-Serrano, Asia Pacific Coordinator for the International Criminal Court, who were fellow youth activists of Ka Popoy, gave the audience a deeper insight into the character of Ka Popoy which only those close to him knew and understood.

BMP President, Mr. Leody De Guzman, explained the rationale for setting up the foundation, while Ms. Nilda Lagman-Sevilla, sister of Atty. Lagman and Ka Popoy, who also chairs the human rights NGO Families of Victims of Involuntary Disapperance (FIND), presented the foundation's vision, mission, goal, objectives, programs and services, and the officers and members of the board of trustees.

Also on hand to lend support to the foundation were Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, former U.P. President Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. and former Marikina Representative Romeo Candazo.

Before Dr. Rene Ofreneo, former dean of U.P. SOLAIR closed the program with a message that gave a historical context to the foundation, separate declaration of commitment/pledges and thank you cards were distributed to the guests.

The formal launch of the foundation will be on May 01, 2011, Labor Day.

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