By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Leslie Ann Aquino
Malacañang on Wednesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte (PRRD) has not forgotten his campaign promise to stop contractualization of laborers, or more colloquially known as the “end-of-contract” (“endo”) practice.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra made the statement after some labor groups slammed the Palace for supposedly not having the political will to support Duterte’s move to end contractualization.
The criticism stemmed from Guevarra’s earlier statement that an executive order (EO) alone cannot end contractualization and that legislation is required to amend provisions of the Labor Code that allows the practice.
“Hindi naman ibig sabihin na kung hindi magagawa sa pamamagitan ng isang Executive Order ang total ban on contractualization, ay ibig sabihin noon ay tinatalikuran nang President ang kanyang pangako tungkol sa pagtigil at paghintong contractualization (Just because an EO cannot enforce a total ban on contractualization, it does not mean that the
President has already turned his back on his promise to put an end to it),” Guevarra said during the Wednesday Palace press briefing.
According to Guevarra, the President can always initiate coordination with the Congress as there are things that an EO cannot do regarding the issue.
“Kasinga may mgabagay-bagaynaang Kongreso mismo ang pwedeng gumawa kamukhang mga probisyon sa labor code (Because as I said, there are things that only the Congress can act on, like the provisions of the Labor Code),” he said.
“Batas ‘yun, e. So kung kailangang baguhin doon, ang Kongreso rin mismo ang dapat na magbago noon (That’s a law. So if there are amendments that need to be amended, it’s the Congress that should do that),” he explained.
“Ang magagawang ehekutibo roon ay pagtulungan at i-pursue ang legislative action na yon sa pamamagitan ng proper liaison and coordination (What the Executive Department can do is to coordinate and pursue the legislative action through proper liaison and coordination),” he added.
On Monday, Guevarra explained that the promised EO on contractualization 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.
“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,” he added.
According to Guevarra, they are in the process of harmonizing the three different draft EOs from the labor groups, the Department of Labor and Employment (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.
He, however, assured that the Executive Branch is trying to come up with the best EO that can be acceptable to all.
Labor groups had earlier called on the President to end contractualization through the issuance of an EO 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.
But the President admitted that it is difficult to end contractualization as there will be laws to amend, and companies should be given time to make adjustments. He also asked the public to be more patient as he assured them that he is also against endo.
As this developed, more than 6,000 workers of Jollibee are set to be regularized.
In a report to Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) National Capital Region Director Henry John Jalbuena said his office has already ordered Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) to regularize 6,482 workers deployed by its two contractors.
The DOLE said JFC was also directed to refund illegally collected payments to 426 affected workers in the amount of P15,432,305 for Coop Share, Coop Christmas Party Paluwagan Fund, and Coop Savings Fund.
“In addition, five of its contractors were also ordered to return unlawful wage deductions, bonds, donations, shares, and other illegal payment collections to 412 affected workers with a total amount of P4,137,158.15,”the DOLE said in a statement.
The list of liable contractors identified by the Labor department are the following: Citiwide Basic Commodities and Manpower Services, Inc., which was ordered refund to 40 workers a total of P1,853,578 in cash bond for motorcycle rentals and unpaid service incentive leaves and holiday pay; Generation One Resource Service and Multi-Purpose
Cooperative, which was ordered to refund a total amount of P1,180,363.15 in share capital, cooperative shares, membership fees, damayan fund, and unpaid holiday pay earnings of 287 workers; Integral Care Formation Service Cooperative, whichwas directed to return to 24 workers a total amount of P440,300 collected as Coop Shares and uniform costs; Toptrend Service Corporation, which was ordered to refund to 47 workers a total of P464,012.00 for motorcycle rentals; MetroGuards Security Agency Corporation, which was ordered to return donations and reimburse unpaid holiday pay earnings of 14 workers amounting to P199,905.00.
Earlier, the DOLE also issued a compliance order to Perf Restaurant, also known as Burger King, directing it to regularize 704 workers deployed by its three contractors.
The continuing inspection of popular food chains is part of the government’s relentless campaign to stop illegal work contractualization practices being pursued by the Labor department.
Malacañang had earlier explained that the Duterte administration continues to work hard in promoting more “humane conditions” and fair and just treatment of workers in the work place.