Creating a competitive and business-friendly climate in Santa Rosa
Resolving industrial disputes are among the many duties of Mayor Danilo Ramon Fernandez.
As Mayor of Santa Rosa, Fernandez has to ensure that all 102 industrial locators in his city are able to meet their production targets and conduct their business in an atmosphere of industrial peace.
But as Mayor, he likewise has to ensure that the thousands of workers that man Santa Rosa’s industrial estates are afforded decent wages and fair working conditions, as stipulated in the country’s Labor Code.
“Of course, we have to be supportive of our investors, especially on the peace and order situation. The investors are looking forward to a peaceful resolution of the problems they are encountering,” Fernandez said.
Last March 21, one of Santa Rosa’s largest global investors were faced with a ticking-time bomb situation.
Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI) plant in Brgy. Pulong Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Laguna had an on-going face-off with their workers’ union, the Liga ng Pinalakas ng Manggagawa sa Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines (LPMCCFP).
At exactly 5 p.m., some 140 contractual employees had taken over Gates 5 and 6 of the company’s plant. They were ranged against an equal number of security guards and another SWAT team poised to disperse them.
Workers of the Liga ng Pinalakas ng Manggagawa sa Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines (LPMCCFP) told the media they were on strike, adding that it had taken them almost a year to press the management to implement a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Order to regularize the company’s 675 contractual employees.
Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, Inc.—owner of Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. —is among the 10 biggest Coca-Cola bottlers around the world and one of the top 100 Philippine corporations.
A GMA7 report said that according to Coca-Cola FEMSA, the forcible seizure of some of their facility’s gates was the work of certain individuals who were not affiliated with the company.
The report added that Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines earlier announced it was cutting the number of its workforce in light of recent developments in the beverage industry and business landscape.
Mayor Fernandez clearly remembered what became of the stand-off.
“Nag-rally yung mga empleyado nila [Their employees held a rally]. We intervened. No one was harmed. I went to the area once they declared they were on strike. They held their strike at 4 p.m. I was there at 5 p.m. I negotiated with the workers. As much as possible I want to be there and be a part of the negotiation. For as long as the workers feel they have a “kakampi” (ally), and the investors feel that I will protect them, the conflict could be resolved,” he added.
Fernandez knows that “investors are the lifeline” of Santa Rosa, a steady source of jobs and livelihood for his constituents.
“I can see the legality of what they (investors) are fighting for. Like in the Coke strike, the workers barricaded the gates. I made a phone call to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and let the workers hear what was being said. I asked Bello if barricading the gates was a legal act. And he said, I should tell the workers, they cannot barricade the gates. Mali yung ginagawa nila [What they are doing was wrong]. So, I told the workers: ‘You have to step back. Otherwise, you will lose. You already have a fighting chance of having your demands met. If you will not step backward and talk about this in my office with Coke management, I won’t be able to help you. Pag-alis ko dito, papasok na yang mga yan [When I leave, the police will enter. We need to negotiate.’] I offered them the Mayor’s office as a venue for negotiation. Both the workers and Coke management agreed,” he said.
Fernandez said they talked till the wee hours of the morning. Even the Mexican Human Resources (HR) manager of Coca-Cola FEMSA went to be part of the negotiating team.
“We had seven meetings at the Mayor’s office. It took almost a month but we ended up resolving the dispute. Most of the striking workers were accommodated back by Coke, even some of the union leaders,” he said.
Coca-Cola FEMSA told GMA7 that the situation was peacefully managed, citing the contribution of Fernandez in the dispute’s peaceful resolution. “We are grateful for the leadership and guidance of Mayor Dan Fernandez, who worked toward the resolution of this distressing incident.”
Even the workers declared the negotiations between the union and Coke management a success.
In an online statement released through its labor federation Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU), they said the negotiations “resulted in the regularization of 100 contractual employees.”
“Mga friends din natin yang mga yan [They are our friends, too],” Fernandez said, referring to the workers of Coca-Cola, adding, “when they ask for my help, I help. I told Coke management I gave the workers rice, not because I am on their side, but purely because of humanitarian reasons. I’m giving them support for humanitarian reasons because they need food. I even asked Coke to buy food for the workers during our negotiations and they did. So, I told the workers, ‘padala ng Coke yan.’ It helped bring down the tension and enhanced the success of the negotiations.” G
The big picture
On the western section of the crescent-shaped, 922 square kilometer-Laguna de Bay lies the “Lion City” of Santa Rosa, Laguna. It is bounded on the northwest by Biñan City, on the south and southwest by Cabuyao City and on the west by Cavite province.
Just 40 kilometers south of Manila, Santa Rosa, with its more than 200 years of history, bears testament to the impact of industrialization on a once sleepy agricultural town, and how an economy can suddenly grow by leaps and bounds through determined planning and the support of its 353,767 people.
FROM P4M TO P3.3B
Plucked from being a barrio of Biñan in 1792, Santa Rosa started out as a town where 96% of its land area was devoted to agriculture; its economy defined by fishing, livestock, and producing rice, corn, vegetables, sugar cane, and fruits of various kinds.
For the next 188 years, Santa Rosa will hold on to its role as food-producing municipality of Laguna, until the 1980s, when industrialization came to Santa Rosa by way of foreign multinational corporations locating in its economic and industrial estates, as identified by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
In 1986, Santa Rosa was a typical fourth class municipality in Laguna, with an average income of P4 million.
Seven years later, in 1993, it jumped to becoming a first class municipality, with an annual income of at least P54.2 million.
Since then, its former mayor, the late Leon Arcillas, lobbied for Santa Rosa to be converted into a city. Finally, on July 10, 2004, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act no, 9264 and declared Santa Rosa as the 101st city of the Philippines.
From P54.2 annual income in 1993, the city of Santa Rosa achieved its P1 billion annual income, in 2007, a mere three years since it converted into a city. This achievement placed Santa Rosa in the “Billionaire’s Club” of Local Government Units (LGUs) in the country.
In 2013, based on figures provided by the Commission on Audit-Annual Financial Reports (COA AFR),Santa Rosa’s annual income reached 2.3 billion pesos, surpassing the incomes of Calamba and Batangas City.
In 2015, based on the latest COA AFR, it posted an annual revenue of P2.7 billion. By 2016, its annual revenue has risen to P3.3 billion.
LOCAL, FOREIGN INVESTORS
The sustained spike in revenues and income of Santa Rosa City is attributed to the support of its people and local government to local and foreign investors.
Accessible to Metro Manila via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the Manila South Road, and the Philippine National Railroad South Line, Santa Rosa is home to the Meridian Industrial Complex in Brgy. Balibago, and to four major PEZA-accredited economic zones, namely: Laguna Technopark, Inc and Greenfield Auto Park, both in Brgy. San Jose; Santa Rosa IT park in Brgy. Santo Domingo; and the Toyota Special Economic Zone in Brgy Pulong Sta. Cruz.
These economic zones have been the foundation of Santa Rosa’s development rise, enabling the city to offer prime location to manufacturing investors in electronics, semi-conductors, automotive and automotive parts, packaging, food processing, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).
In the 80s, some 21 global locators led by Filipinas Synthetic Fiber Corporation (Filsyn), Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Inc., and food conglomerate Monde Nissin established their plants in Santa Rosa. Another 725 commercial enterprises—businesses from the wholesale, retail, banking and finance, insurance and real estate, as well as services sectors—also located in the city.
Operating in Brgy, Pulong Santa Cruz, the largest plant of the Coca-Cola Company in the Philippines is situated right across the Santa Rosa Exit of the South Luzon Expressway.
Monde Nissin Corporation, makers of Lucky Me! instant noodles and Monde biscuits has built a 14-hectare manufacturing facility in Santa Rosa.
By 2010, the number of industrial locators reached 102, providing employment for 100,000 people—mostly from Santa Rosa, and contributing to the country’s export earnings by as much as US$8 billion a year.
Over the years, Santa Rosa has earned the title, “Motor City” or “Detroit City” of the Philippines for hosting four major international car manufacturers and two bus assemblers in its industrial zones. It is also the location for the headquarters of Santarosa Motor Works, Inc.
Santa Rosa-based automotive giants like Nissan Motors Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Corporation, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi contribute 95% of the automotive production in the Philippines.
The nation’s top car dealerships also prefer to locate in Santa Rosa. These include: Chevrolet, Ford (Borromeo), Foton, Honda (ANC), Hyundai, JMC, Kia, Mazda (Borromeo), Mitsubishi (Ancar), and Subaru (ANC).
This 2018, Santa Rosa ushered in HAMBURG Trading Corporation, a trading company that services clients in the food and beverage, steel, glass, cement laboratories, and construction.
HAMBURG has built a 7,000 square meter facility in Santa Rosa that covers its warehouse, administration office, and its top-of-the-line demo kitchen. G