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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Workers extolled for selflessness, hard work

Catholic bishops pay tribute to frontline workers, laborers and migrant works

MANILA – With the celebration of International Labor Day today, Catholic bishops paid tribute to workers worldwide for their selfless dedication to their work, their families and society in general.

In separate statements today, Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, chair of the CBCP – National Secretariat of Social Action, Justice and Peace, he said Filipino workers need to be recognized and exulted in time for the national consecration to St. Joseph, the Worker.

“We celebrate with the whole world the bravery, courage, selflessness especially of the Filipino frontline workers, who devoted even their lives in the service of those in need,” he said. He added the country owns it to the workers and frontliners “even the minimum thread of comfort and safety that we have at a time of pandemic.” They all deserve the Filipino people’s salutation and gratitude.

Meanwhile, at the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos said he and the Commission members “prayerfully greet and wish our labourers especially migrants and seafarers who works manifest their expertise and excellence.”

“They have shown especially to the world their dedication and determination. Amidst separation from our country and amidst this troubling and trying time of COVID-19 pandemic, they continue to effectively and efficiently perform their duties in their work places,” he said in a statement.

He added they country appreciates and express its gratitude for their “resiliency, courage, and strength to labor harder and honestly for the country and their families.”

To add more meaning to the celebration today, Bishop Santos said it is incumbent upon people in authority to implement and enact laws for the workers’ benefit and prevent their exploitation from unscrupulous agencies, and employers.

He also called for the investigation and prosecution of people who victimized and abused workers.

“Today, we at the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People and Stella Maris and our diocesan migrant ministries and chaplaincies will pray and offer Holy Masses for them, invoking St. Joseph to keep them safe, strong and successful in their line of work,” Bishop Santos concluded.

There are about 400,000 Filipino seafarers worldwide to date.

Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., Caritas Philippines executive secretary said the country owns workers a “huge debt of gratitude” for their dedication to service.” He assured the workers that Caritas Philippines will be the voice of the labor sector and to everyone in need of protection from oppression and injustice.

Yesterday, the Commission launched its Alay Kapwa sa Caritas Philippines a two-hour, monthly virtual legal counseling through Facebook at WeAreCaritas page.

Atty. Jen Louie W. Velendrez, Caritas Philippines legal officer said a lot of workers need legal assistance and counseling support.

“We hope the online program will be accessible to everyone,” he said. He added this is one way of expressing gratitude to dedicated workers, here and abroad.

Conflicting figures from different agencies estimate some 7.3 million Filipinos lost their work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bishop Bagaforo has called for periodic dialogue between DOLE and other government agencies “to tap state resources and technical support aside from job generation but create community-based social enterprises which he believes are more sustainable and empowering.

In a span to ten years, Caritas Philippines, in collaboration with the Social Action Network, established and supported more than 200 community social enterprises nationwide utilizing self-help group approach to community organizing and saving mobilization which now has a combined income and savings worth P40 million.

Caritas Philippines is the country’s representative to the global confederation of Catholic charities, Caritas Internationalis. (Melo M. Acuña)

Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforoand CBCP-NASSA chair (left) and Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos, CBCP-ECMI Chair, paid tribute to the dedicated Filipino workers in time for the National Consecration to St. Joseph, the Worker and International Labor Day. (CBCP Photos)

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