This Victory Matters

This is the original draft of the essay that appeared on
The news was broken to us around 7:30 pm last night, Thursday, June 25.
My head writer on State of the Nation, and one of the officers of Talents Association of GMA, Edma Remillano, whispered to me while we were writing our scripts: “Nanalo tayo sa NLRC (We won in NLRC).”
We were told that our Association President was just outside our Newsroom with the official papers.
So we ran outside, knowing we could not spare more than a minute because we still had jobs to do.
I counted it. 10 seconds to hug our fellow TAG members, 10 seconds to congratulate them and shake the hands of the 5 people who were there. 10 seconds to snap a photo of the first 3 pages of the decision.
And 30 seconds to compose a short status on our Facebook page:
“TAG wins its regularization case before the NLRC. In a resolution signed by Labor Arbiter Julio Gayaman, TAG members were declared by NLRC Labor Arbiter regular employees of GMA Network.”
It may just be one of the most important news I have ever broken.

We reserved the celebration later that night when we were done airing the newscast.
Why were we celebrating despite the fact that this is just the first round of a battle that may stretch up to five years?
Because all victories start with something.
Let me paint you an example. When Sandiganbayan pressed graft charges against Janet Napoles and Senators Revilla, Estrada and Enrile, we also celebrated.
We celebrated despite the fact that it would still have to be tried and heard at the Regional Trial Court and — like any other case — could reach Supreme Court. Analysts said it would take up to 10 years until we see any of them convicted.
But it was a victory because it proves that there is justice, and that the system works. What Sandiganbayan was to the Filipino people is what NLRC is to the contractual workers who sued the Network.
What happened after Sandiganbayan? We started running after the rest of the crooks. We investigated every other agency, and questioned the wealth of our Vice President in the Senate.
We marched to Luneta and pressured the High Court to declare the corrupt system of Pork Barrel illegal. We also stopped the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and told our President: it doesn’t matter if you have good intentions, follow the law.
Call me crazy, call me disillusioned. Laugh if you want to, and say the victory of the Filipino people insofar as fighting corruption is concerned, cannot be compared to a small victory of 107 Network Talents.
A lightning rally held in front of GMA Network last June.

A lightning rally held in front of GMA Network last June.

But I work in an Industry that preaches there are no small stories, and there are no voice louder than others as long as there are people listening.
Our voice just got louder.
A labor arbiter has just amplified our stance, and a black-and-white paper saying we are employees now exists.
And it’s not just any paper.
It’s a Commission-issued paper that says the other paper — the Talent Agreement that says we are not employees — is not legally binding.
NLRC decision penned by Arbiter Julio Gayaman favoring the Talents Association of GMA (TAG)

NLRC decision penned by Arbiter Julio Gayaman favoring the Talents Association of GMA (TAG)

It sets a precedent. It sends a message to other corporations that its workers are now brave enough to sue.
Just yesterday, June 26, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) declared 397 workers of Tanduay Distillery as regular employees. They have been on strike for almost 2 months and have endured physical assault on top of all other forms of harassment. But lo and behold, there is justice from DOLE.
Together, one by one, we are fighting to abolish contractualization.
With every news agency that airs or publishes this story, this victory is saying that we are seeing the start of the days when even though this is in the interest of the powerful, we are going to give voice to the powerless.
The Labor Arbiter resolution just affirms what is obvious: we are regular employees. We have contracts to prove we are repeatedly contractualized, and documents to support what Article 280 of the Labor Code provides for us — regularization and all benefits and rights that come with it.
GMA Network can appeal up to the Supreme Court. It will be emotionally, mentally and not to mention, financially draining on our part, but when it reaches that stretch, when all hundred of us have grown older, and poorer, and we’re still fighting for our rights and for the rights of others, then that will be our legacy.
And on the opposite side of the fence, when GMA Network continues to throw their weight and spends fortune they can spare denying the rights of people who have worked for them with dignity, compassion and excellence — then that will be their legacy.
So we can fight for years to come, but it will be known in history who fought for the good, and who bullied those who fought for the good.
This is just the first victory.
But when you’re a person who believes in fighting for the common good, then you don’t need any convincing that this is one that matters.
TAG President Bowe Cabaluna in a collaborative anti-contractualization rally joined by other labor groups.

TAG President Bowe Cabaluna in a collaborative anti-contractualization rally joined by other labor groups.

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