Labor group calls on President Marcos to intervene in the impending Duty-Free Philippines massive retrenchment

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) is calling on President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., anew to stop the massive retrenchment at the Duty-Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC) and consider the welfare of its employees in the midst of high unemployment and underemployment rates.

In a statement, FFW said it supports the government being steadfast and more active in strengthening its policy interventions geared toward generating more productive and higher-quality employment in the public and private sectors.

With unemployment high, the FFW strongly urges the Marcos administration to intervene to avert job losses in the public sector.


Putting a stop the DFPC’s right-sizing plan, the FFW said, would avert a loss of jobs in the next few days for more than half of the firm’s workforce.

“The President has the authority to stop this ill-prepared plan as he has the power to do so under Section 5 (a) (6) (i) of RA 10149, also known as the GOCC Governance Act of 2011,” Atty. Sonny Matula, FFW president said.

The FFW also recommended that “the Marcos administration clean the top echelon of DFPC management first and that new leadership be installed, as a number of complaints, including rampant smuggling, are pending before the office of the President regarding the present leadership of DFPC.”

According to Matula, “the present management even deprived the union of its union office and union dues, in violation of the fundamental right of freedom of association at work.”

“While management has several lawyers at its beck and call, it does not allow the union counsel to represent or be present with the union panel in the collective negotiation meetings, delaying further the conclusion of the ongoing-CNA negotiation,” he further said.

The DFPC, a Government-Owned-and-Controlled Corporation (GOCC) attached to the Department of Tourism, recently adopted new implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for its reorganization plan.


As stated by Matula, the new implementing rules and regulation (IRR) were done without consulting the DFPC union, the United Workers of Duty-Free Philippines (UWDFP-FFW)—the certified bargaining negotiation agent of the rank-and-file employees.  

The decision of management to adopt new implementing rules and regulations affects the rights, benefits, and interests of the workers and violates their constitutional right to participate in decision-making, the FFW said.

“Despite our effort to be involved,  we were informed that the management of Duty-Free Philippines has already adopted an implementing rules for the reorganization without the union or employees participation and without waiting for the resolution of our motion for reconsideration before the Governance Commission for GOCC. This is preposterous,” protested Ernesto Mangalindan, union president of the UWDFP-FFW.

“Additionally, the IRR violates the equal protection clause of the constitution. It has provision which is discriminatory as it penalizes employees who have been impacted by the massive termination by preventing them from being re-employed in the public service for five years.” Mangalindan said.

This is particularly unfair for workers who were involuntarily separated from service and received meager separation pay, which is insufficient to provide them with a safety net. Depriving them of the opportunity to be re-employed in the government for five years, only adds insult to injury, he added.

“To cite an example, employees who worked for 20 years will receive P250,000 each  as separation pay. They may survive for one year but after that, their families will have difficulties surviving, with no more money for sustenance. They need to work and the private sector has less or no job opportunities for them. In the IRR, Duty-Free management punishes them by barring their re-employment in the government or its branches and instrumentalities for five years,” opined UWDF Board Chairman Romeo Silva, Jr.. “Thus, those who have less in life are given less opportunities contrary to the principle of equity and social justice.”

Added Silva: “The union is also concerned that no due process and due diligence were followed in this reorganization plan. The employees were not fully aware of or did not understand the plans, policies, and programs related to this plan, as there were no significant or meaningful consultations or discussions in the past with the union or employees who will be affected by such a poorly prepared plan during the Duterte administration.”

“The DFPC’s reorganization plan and its IRR deprived employees of their constitutional right to security of tenure, as their actual length of service was not considered,” said Maricor  Geslani, union Board Member/Spokesperson.


The rank-and-file employees of Duty-Free Philippines are unique employees of the government. They were former private manpower agency workers contracted by the predecessor of Duty-Free Philippines Corporation but the Supreme Court declared their agency as a “labor-only contractor” and they were considered regular employees of the government service in several cases in 1999, 2005, and 2016.

 They all will lose their security of tenure won in those landmark cases as they will be required to reapply to the approved plantilla jobs, which are less than half of the existing jobs.

“The union president, who was part of the Change Management Team (CMT), but was not invited or notified to participate in the process of the adoption of said plan and its IRR. They rendered nugatory the constitutional mandate for workers’ participation in decision-making,” added Geslani.

The suggestion of the DOT for an “active/inclusive participation” was blatantly ignored by the DFPC management despite the observation that “the composition of the CMT is overly top-heavy.”



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