‘Auto workers don’t represent industry’

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    Hearings ongoing. The TC says the DTI may have seen there is a need to investigate the surge in imports as it affects workers in terms of job losses.

    Automotive makers and importers yesterday questioned the legal personality of the Philippine Metalworkers Association (PMA) in filing a petition for the imposition of safeguard duties on imported vehicles saying they are not representing the domestic manufacturing industry.

    At the preliminary hearing of the Tariff Commission, counsel of Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corp. (MMPC) Eric Ricalde also doubted the ability of PMA to present data, or if it has access to or personal knowledge on sensitive information” since they are not the domestic industry.”

    Lawyer Rodolfo Britanico, representing the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronics Products remarked that PMA is a national union of automotive, iron and steel, electronics, and electrical and electrical sectors and therefore does not represent the domestic automotive manufacturing industry.

    He cited Section 6 of the Safeguard Measures Act which states the petitioner for safeguards refers to a domestic producer.

    Jacqueline Tan, also counsel of MMPC agreed with Britanico’s observation that the issue is jurisdictional “It seems they (PMA) are not authorized, the investigation in DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) should not have happened,” Britanico said.

    Commissioner Ernesto Albano, however, said there was assumption of regularity for the DTI to look at PMA’s petition and bring it up to investigation.

    “I’m sure the DTI looked at the issue of representation. The DTI can in fact motu proprio initiate a safeguard investigation… so perhaps they thought from the petition from the labor unions there is a need for investigation as it really affects (the workers) because of loss of employment DTI must have felt there is need investigate issue of representation not an issue,” Albano said.

    Officials and counsels of other automotive companies were present at the hearing Toyota Motor Philippines Corp., Isuzu Philippines Corp., Mazda Philippines and Sojitz-Fuso Corp. — Irma Isip