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Labatt fires back at internet critics

24 May 2017

Labatt dela Torre 
Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre has fired back at detractors who apparently have been bashing him on social media, threatening to take them to court.

In a Facebook post on Apr 28, Labatt dela Torre said: “Tamad daw ako? Tamad ba ako? Ilang buwan na kaming walang weekends at walang holidays sa trabaho, tamad pa rin? Hindi ko na papatulan yang mga comments sa Facebook. Kasi alam ng marami na halos wala na kaming panahon sa sarili namin. Pero pag naubos pasensiya ko, defamation ang aabutin ninyo.”

He followed it up the next day with this post: “How far can you take scurrilous attack on your reputation for the sake of government service? Don’t government officials have honor to protect, too?”

“When do you say enough is enough, and just bring them all to the court of justice?”.

He did not refer directly to whoever accused him of being lazy, but the country’s labor chief in Hong Kong had been at odds earlier with people who tried to brush aside his warnings against illegal recruitment to countries like Turkey, Russia and Brazil.

In a subsequent talk with The SUN, he hinted that his outburst was over a remark made over an article written about the planned move by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to another building later this month.

Still, Labatt dela Torre is at a loss on what his detractors’ motive is.

“I have no idea who these people are, but I guess this is part of public service,” he said in an email to The SUN sent from Jakarta on May 5 in reply to a query regarding his post.

He was in Indonesia to serve as a panelist in an event that showcased the award-winning documentary about OFWs in Hong Kong, “Sunday Beauty Queen,” along with three other films from the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.

His posts revealed a minefield of intrigues that he as head of the country’s labor office in Hong Kong has had to tread on as he goes about with his daily work. And daily means seven days of overstretched hours serving some 190,000 OFWs earning a living in Hong Kong.

Anyone who visits his office practically any day of the week would often see him and his team being swamped by OFWs who go there for various services, from securing OECs to renewing contracts and getting labor advice.

Labatt dela Torre is often seen not just directing work but sitting behind the service counters or at a computer to help workers register for the BMOnline service.

His frustrated posts immediately drew sympathetic reactions from various people, from past and present OFWs to his colleagues in the Labor Department.

Former OFW and now successful entrepreneur Myrna Padilla commented: “Kilala kita since 1999. Alam ko kung paano ka magtrabaho…Noong akoy nasa Hong Kong pa nagtatrabaho kahit hatinggabi puwede kitang tawagan at hingan ng tulong kung may kababayan tayong nangangailangan ng tulong at responde ka kaagad. Alam ko personally na ang puso mo ay nasa aming mga OFWs. May kasabihan...”Ang puno na (hitik) sa bunga ay laging binabato.” Go go go Sir Jalilo Dela Torre, all out suport ako at ang OFWWatch sa iyo. More power to you!”

Bebs Cobilla Leonardo, an OFW who is still in Hong Kong also rushed to his defense: “Almost two months akong walang trabaho dahil nag change employer ako at sa mga oras na yon araw araw ako sa consulate bilang volunteer kaya ako mismo nakakita kung gaano kayo kasipag Sir Jalilo Dela Torre. Friday, Saturday dapat holiday na pero nagtatrabaho pa rin kayo sa POLO office. Salute sa yo, sir, more power”.

Also coming out to support him was OWWA administrator Hans Cacdac who commented: Keep doing what you do best, Labatt. The best basketball teams win amid jeers and boos on the road”.

A fellow labor attaché, Merriam C. Cuasay said: “You are one of the best and brightest! They cannot put you down! Continue with what you do best in the interest of the service and for our OFWs. God bless you, Labatt Jolly.”

Others urged him to sue, with one, Victoriano Orocio, apparently a lawyer, going a step farther by offering help in filing a lawsuit

But another former labor attaché, Elizabeth Recio, urged caution: “I think they are happy when you feel bad about it. It simply means they are winning...

"Ignore and just do your best and eventually they will find it futile to do such nasty moves. Get dressed, smile, stay focused on your mission and pray. He takes care of the rest,” Recio advised.

Amid the outpouring of support, Labatt dela Torre was mum, perhaps still weighing his options. – Vir B. Lumicao

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