2022 PRESIDENTIABLES | Leody de Guzman: The Labor Leader

by Mark Angelo Ching
May 3, 2022
Leody de Guzman
Labor rights activist Leody De Guzman says he will champion the "masang Pilipino" in contrast to what he calls traditional elitist leaders who only favor the affluent.
PHOTO/S: Leody De Guzman Facebook

Name: Leody de Guzman

Full Name: Leodegario Quitain de Guzman

Age: 73

Current Occupation: Labor rights activist

Spouse: Marieza Tolentino

Running Under: Partido Lakas ng Masa

Running Mate: Walden Bello

Leody de Guzman is running for President, but he cannot campaign full-time.

Daily, he wakes before 5 A.M. to prepare breakfast for his family. After breakfast, he goes to his sewing shop to do some work before starting his day campaigning.

The humble labor leader is not a politician. He is running for the presidency for a cause.

To begin with, he does not have deep pockets or generous donors to fund his campaign.

"Wala akong perang puwedeng pang-paid ad. Walang pang-billboard," he told ABS-CBN News, during the Kampanya Serye interview that featured his daily routine.

With only less than one week before the elections, can de Guzman succeed even without the campaign machinery?


De Guzman is the 7th of the 13 children of Lorenzo and Dolores de Guzman, two farmers who lived in Oriental Mindoro.

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Two days after finishing high school in 1976, De Guzman immediately sought employment to help his family, and to earn money to fund his college education.

He worked at a gloves factory in Pasig at the same time that he was enrolled at a college in Manila for his degree in Customs Administration.

In 1983, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino rocked the consciousness of De Guzman and turned him into an activist one month after he finished college.

He joined protest marches that called for the ouster of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

De Guzman recollected in his profile on his website: "Minsan pa nga, tumakas ako sa trabaho kasama ang isa pang kamanggagawa at sinalubong namin ang makasaysayang martsang 'Tarlac to Tarmac' nina Butch Aquino na tumatahak noon sa kahabaan ng EDSA.

"Iyon ang umpisa at pangunahing dahilan ng pagbababago ng direksiyon ng aking buhay."

De Guzman also started his journey to become a labor leader.

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He eschewed his dreams of getting a higher-paying job, opting to stay in the gloves factory and help organize its workers.

He became an organizer for the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Pasig (ALMAPAS) in 1984. Then he became a delegate, and eventually a Regional Executive Council member in the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

In 1993, he joined the newly founded Bukluran ng Manggagawa para sa Pagbabago (BMP), where he was appoined as the Deputy General Secretary.

He served in different roles in the organization over the years, until he became its president in 2018.

POLITICAL Aspirations

De Guzman had previously tried to enter politics twice. In 2016, he ran as the first nominee for Sanlakas, but the partylist wasn’t able to get enough votes to get a seat in Congress.

In 2019, he ran for senator under Partido Lakas ng Masa. He ended at 38th place, getting only less than 900,000 votes. He is now running for President in 2022.

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And while the surveys are not predicting a win, his name is still out there, and he could use the national recognition for a more successful race in the future.

But this recognition has come with a trade-off because now he has been the target of massive criticism.

One such criticism thrown at him was when he posted a family photo for Christmas last year.

Bashers cited a disconnect between De Guzman’s identity as a labor leader and his expensive-looking home. De Guzman chose not to comment on this issue.

His running mate Walden Bello took up the cudgels instead and tweeted, “A Christmas photo in a comfortable setting subjects Leody De Guzman's family to online abuse by those who think they should be living in a hovel. What an ugly display of middle class prejudice. Working people deserve respect.”

Later, De Guzman talked about the house in the "Kampanya Serye" interview. He said he got the funds from a case he won against an employer that illegally terminated him after 12 years of employment.

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He said, "Noong matanggal ako sa trabaho, nanalo yung kaso ko. Naka-claim ako dun, binili ko ng lupa rito."

De Guzman’s main platform is to help ordinary workers get the same decent life that he enjoys.

The list of his platforms include the abolition of contractualization, a livable national wage, and giving all laborers the right to assemblies, unions, and strikes.

He also hopes to solve hunger and malnutrition by developing rural areas.

He said in an interview with Rappler, "Ang program namin talaga ay resolbahin 'yong kagutuman sa ating bansa. 'Yong malnutrisyon sa ating bansa, kaya magpo-focus kami ni Walden sa pagpapaunlad ng ating kanayunan."

With less than one week before the elections, De Guzman will still make an effort to campaign. He doesn’t want to think of his low place in the surveys.

But he said in another interview, "Hindi kami apektado ng resulta ng mga surveys.

"Pero asahan ng publiko na dodoblehin o tritriplehin pa namin sa PLM - Partido Lakas ng Masa ang aming pagsisikap na abutin ang pinakamalaking bilang ng mga manggagawa’t masa na sawang-sawa na sa isang kahig, isang tukang buhay habang nagtatampisaw sa pinagpagurang buwis ng mamamayan ang mga elitistang pulitiko.”

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Labor rights activist Leody De Guzman says he will champion the "masang Pilipino" in contrast to what he calls traditional elitist leaders who only favor the affluent.
PHOTO/S: Leody De Guzman Facebook
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