Philippine Standard Time:

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has collaborated with the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law and UP Law Center to establish a ground-breaking initiative to provide paralegal training and legal representation for workers. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed at the Malcolm Hall in the University of the Philippines College of Law in Diliman, Quezon City. The MOA, signed on 22 August 2023, solidifies the collaboration between the DOLE and the highly regarded academic institution, signaling a shared commitment to empowering workers through capacity building and legal assistance.

Key figures from the UP Law Center were prominently in attendance at the ceremony. This distinguished lineup included Atty. Theodore Te, Atty. Arnold F. De Vera, and Atty. Solomon F. Lumba, under the leadership of Atty. Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II, the Chancellor of UP Diliman and Dean of the UP College of Law. Officials from NLRC, DOLE-BLR, as well as DOLE Undersecretary Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio Jr. and Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma, also graced the event.

In his message of support, Secretary Laguesma emphasized the importance of the MOA, which will equip our trade unionists with the tools necessary to advocate for the rights and concerns of workers with confidence and comfort.

“It goes beyond training and envisions a comprehensive support system for unionists,” said Sec. Laguesma. As he continued, Sec. Laguesma explained that the two institutions (DOLE and UP) will ensure that trade unionists are able to carry out their responsibilities without fear of legal repercussions and will foster an environment where workers will feel secure and protected in their pursuit of fair treatment and improved working conditions.

Atty. Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II welcomed Secretary Laguesma for his first official visit to the UP College of Law in his official capacity as DOLE Secretary. He also gave an affirming commitment regarding the newly established partnership between the two highly regarded institutions. “Makakaasa po kayo that the UP College of Law and the University of the Philippines will be very active in this partnership and we are very open to getting guidance from the Department (of Labor and Employment) on how we can better serve the country and of course our fellowmen.” Atty. Vistan II ended his message by thanking the DOLE for the partnership that will empower Filipino workers and help them promote their welfare.

The MOA represents a partnership committed to equipping trade unionists with the necessary skills and knowledge to better protect themselves while exercising their rights to freedom of association, self-organization, collective bargaining, and other labor rights. Additionally, it envisions a scenario in which trade unionists have access to legal counsel when needed. This means that trade unionists can receive professional legal representation and counsel if any legal issues involving workers’ rights or labor conflicts arise.