By ALDWIN QUITASOL
“There is a duty that the employer owes to the employee, and that is to give him, by way of compensation, the full value of his labor. The disposition on the part of some rich employers to grind the faces of the poor, taking advantage of their necessities and securing their services at half what they are worth, is a shameful wrong, and it will sooner or later ripen into revolution anywhere.” — Unattributed Author, Southwestern Methodist.
Ligayo is a member of a Cordillera tribe, one of the many tribes in the region still observing much of their indigenous culture. He is a regular miner in a mining firm in Benguet province. He happened to marry a village mate and they were blessed by their tribe elders and chief through a village mass wedding called dunno.
After nine months, Ligayo’s wife Duway gave birth. Duway needs complete rest, which prompted Ligayo to file a paternal leave with pay to assist his wife and look after their newborn child until Duway could recover enough. Paternal leave with pay is not inculcated in the Philippine Labor Code but is a special law for working fathers. Implementation is more assured if it is included in a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the workers and their company. Usually, the leave granted is for a minimum of five days.
The management considered the request for leave, but denied Ligayos’ filing of paternal leave with pay. They said that instead of paternal leave, they will grant Ligayo excusable five-day absences without pay.
Ligayo complained to the union’s grievance committee. The management and Ligayo with representatives from the grievance committee met in a grievance meeting.
The management argued that although Ligayo is actually a father to a child, he was not considered legally married. They said that Ligayo and Duway were not wed in any legal courts or office or church and never signed legal documents and papers. The management concluded that the couple therefore were not covered by the civil code of the Philippines prior to marriage.
The union’s grievance committee representative insisted that Ligayo is entitled to a paternal leave with pay. They reasoned that although Ligayo was not married in a church or in any legal courts or offices, he was married under the cultural practices and beliefs of his people strengthened by a provision of the Philippine constitution, namely:
Section 17. The State shall recognize, respect, and protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions, and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of national plans and policies. The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) also recognized indigenous marriage among members of tribes in the country.
Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
The union furthered their arguments by saying that Ligayo’s case settlement still falls within the provisions of the Labor Code. Article 4 of the Code, entitled “Construction in Favor of Labor,” states: All doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of this Code, including its implementing rules and regulations, shall be resolved in favor of labor.
Ligayo’s defenders told the company that it will be liable of committing violations of the existing CBA and diminution of benefits. They even lectured the management that the mining company should accord all due respect to the culture of the Cordillera peoples where they installed their mining operations.
The management granted Ligayo’s claim. #