PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte signed an Executive Order imposing a ban on abusive forms of contract work on Labor Day, making good his campaign promise to get rid of the unfair practice of short-term employment and to protect workers’ right to security of tenure.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the EO prohibits contracting and subcontracting when undertaken to circumvent the workers’ right to security of tenure, self-organization and collective bargaining and peaceful concerted activities.
“I remain firm in my commitment to end ‘endo’ and illegal contractualization,” Duterte said in his Labor Day speech in Cebu City.
The EO is applied “to all parties, including cooperatives engaged in any contracting and subcontracting arrangements.”
In his Labor Day speech, the President said that more than a century that has passed since the very first Labor Day was celebrated and yet, the struggle for a better life for workers continues.
“Endo” or “555” refers to the abusive practice of companies to let go of employees before they complete six months of service so that they do not get regular employment benefits required by law.
Duterte said he would urge Congress to prioritize in amending the Labor Code, because “an executive order is not enough.”
Articles 106 to 109 of Presidential Decree 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines permits companies to enter into contractual arrangements with their employees.
“To those who march, [the EO] is not enough. I’m not a legislator. There are provisions that need to be amended. I am not allowed [to change], I can only implement. This executive order that I signed will help a lot in alleviating the problem,” the President said.
“I believe, in order to implement an effective and lasting solution to the problems brought about by contractualization, Congress needs to enact a law amending the Labor Code,” he said.
“It’s outdated. I think, Congress should come up with a new Labor Code to keep it attuned to the realities of our time. I could only do so much and a mere executive order can only do so much because you have to change or modify or entirely aggregate some of the provisions,” he said.
The President instructed Bello to go after companies that continue to practice labor-only contracting.
“To all non-compliant and abusive employers who are engaged in labor contracting, your days are numbered. I will see to it that our laws are strictly enforced. The government will not rest until we end the shameful labor practice,” the President warned.
Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod said the EO would guide the drafting of a bill to revise the Labor Code.
He added that the EO signed by the President was neither based on drafts submitted by employers or labor groups.
“It is the version of President Duterte,” he said.
Maglungsod said the President is standing pat on his earlier statement that he will certify as urgent the security of tenure measure pending before the Senate.
The Federation of Free Workers said they will use the EO signed by Duterte to advance their advocacy in the Senate.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he supports Duterte’s call to amend the Labor Code to further strengthen workers’ security of tenure.
Senatr JV Ejercito said the Senate would push through with a law that will end labor abuses and promote workers’ right to security of tenure.
“Let me emphasize that addressing the abuses and ensuring compliance by businesses with labor standards and occupational safety and health standards through clear and fair legislation is not anti-business,” said Ejercito.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said he wants stronger protection and enhanced welfare mechanisms for Filipino workers both here and abroad as a way of recognizing their valuable contribution to the country’s economic growth.
“Let us balance economic activity and development with the protection of workers’ rights as they are the hands and feet that move our country towards progress,” Angara said in his Labor Day message.
Senator Loren Legarda stressed the need to strengthen the protection of Filipino workers both here and overseas.
“The celebration of Labor Day is a recognition of the important role that our workers play in the development of our country. I salute our workforce for their significant contribution to our economy. Our country would not function without them. Thus, it is the duty of government to address their concerns and protect their fundamental rights,” Legarda said.
Legarda, who chairs the Senate committee on finance, also called on concerned government agencies to ensure that programs for livelihood and employment are efficiently implemented and reach individuals and communities that greatly need government interventions. With PNA