By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang today revealed the issue on contractualization cannot be solved with President Duterte issuing an Executive Order (EO) alone as it requires legislative action.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra made the statement following reports that Duterte was supposed to meet with labor groups before the Holy Week.
Guevarra, in a press briefing, said the EO has been under study in the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) for quite some time now but the problem still remains–the Executive Department cannot resolve it with just an EO.
“The main problem there is ‘yung mga gustong mangyari ay (what they want to happen is) something the Executive Department is not empowered to do. Kailangan legislative action talaga. Because labor code yan, e. Nandoon yung mga provisions against contractualization but allowing in some areas (It really requires legislative action because that is the labor code. It contains provisions against contractualization on provisions that allows it in some areas),” Guevarra explained.
“So if you want something like a total ban on contractualization, you need a law to repeal or amend that particular provision of the labor code,” he added.
“‘Yung (The) total ban itself is something we cannot do by EO,” he continued.
According to the Palace official, an EO can only support or further enforce provisions of an already existing law.
“An Executive Order is meant only to supplement or to give the implementing details of what the law provides. But it cannot add or subtract, or substantially alter what the law provides. That’s really more for Congress to do. So I hope you will understand the limitations of an Executive Order,” Guevarra said.
“So what the law provides, strictly, i-implement under that EO. Kung merong (will be strictly implemented under that EO. If there are) more safeguards that need to be put in place, ‘yun ang gagawin (that will be done) under an EO,” he added.
But for now, Guevarra said what the Executive Branch can do is to strictly monitor if employers are complying with the labor code, especially with the provisions pertaining to contractualization.
“But for now, what the Executive Department is doing is really to make compliance with the existing regulations–very strict yung monitoring ng compliance (monitoring if employers are complying with the labor code),” he said.
“For now that’s what I can see. But on substantial amendments, that’s legislative. That’s congressional,” he added.
According to Guevarra, they are in the process of harmonizing the three different draft EOs from the labor groups, the DOLE, and from the Office of the President. However, he said it will not be much different from DOLE’s department orders pertaining to contractualization.
“We are trying to harmonize all of this, putting all useful proposals together in one,” he said.
“Honestly, not much [difference]. Kasi nga ‘yung sa (Because of the) substantial provision, they can’t do much about it. All you can do is something like strict implementation of what we already have,” he added.
Guevarra said that what the Executive Branch can do is have an initiative to make a proposal to the Congress to make a new law. He assured that they are trying to come up with an acceptable EO.
“(T)he Executive can make can make an initiative in making that proposal and pushing for it in Congress. As of this time, wala pa namang ganun talagang (there’s no) liaison or coordination with the Legislative Department,” he said.
“We’re still trying to do our best to come up with an Executive Order that can be acceptable to the labor sector. So nandoon muna ang aming priority (That is the priority for now),” he added.
“Kung talagang unhappy pa rin ang labor sector (But if the labor sector would still be unhappy) with the best EO that we can come up with, then that’s the time that we’ll probably do our consultations with Congress,” he continued.
President Duterte has promised to end contractualization during his presidential campaign in 2016.
Labor groups have earlier called on the President to end contractualization, more colloquially known as ‘ENDO,’ through the issuance of an executive order to give workers security of tenure, self-organization, collective bargaining and peaceful concerted activities as mandated by the Constitution.
On Labor Day last year, Duterte promised that he will sign an EO for the strict enforcement of anti-contractualization policies.
However, the President admitted that it is difficult to end contractualization as there will be laws to amend, and to give time to companies to make adjustments. He also asked the public to be more patient as he assured them that he is also against ENDO.
“I stand firm in my conviction to end ENDO. Give us time. This promise of [ending] contractualization, I’ll find a way,” Duterte had said.
ENDO is where some companies routinely end the contracts of workers on the fifth month to avoid the regularization of employees.
Malacañang earlier explained that the Duterte administration continues to work hard in promoting more “humane conditions” and fair and just treatment of workers in the workplace.