By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that President Duterte may sign the promised Executive Order (EO) addressing contractualization of workers on or before Labor Day this year.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement following reports that the meeting between President Duterte and labor groups were cancelled.
According to Roque, the cancellation may be because the EO has not yet been finalized.
“I can only surmise that the final version of the EO has not been agreed upon by both labor management and government. It’s a tripartite document which has to be agreed upon. Possibly, they don’t have a final version yet,” he said during the Palace Monday press briefing.
Roque, however, assured that President Duterte is also willing to give in to the request of the labor sector to issue an EO, also citing that this was one of Duterte’s campaign promises two years ago.
Despite not knowing when the EO would be issued, the Palace official also assured that the labor sector can expect that the EO would favor workers.
“I know that the President is rather restive about this EO. He has mentioned this to me personally that this is a campaign promise that he wants to deliver to the people very soon,” he said.
“I would suppose because it is a promise given by the President to labor groups that it would be an EO that will side with the labor forces,” he added.
“The President wants this as soon as possible. We all know that Labor Day is May 1 so I would think that it will come out on or before May 1,” he continued.
It was reported that President Duterte would be signing the EO on contractualization, more commonly as the End-of-Contract, or Endo, practice, Monday. However, Roque said that he does not find it in his calendar.
“I was looking at my own calendar, I did not find it in my own calendar. Unless the meeting was denominated as a ‘private meeting,’ which it should not be, it was not in my own calendar,” Roque said.
“Anyway, I would think that they would want a significant EO like this to be issued in connection with another commemoration recognizing the value of the labor sector in our society,” he added.
Malacañang earlier said that President Duterte has not forgotten his campaign promise to end contractualization. However, the Palace pointed out an EO can only do as much.
Former Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra and now Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier explained 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 na ng President ang kanyang pangako tungkol sa pagtigil at paghinto ng 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 earlier said.
According to Guevarra, the President can always still initiate coordination with the Congress as there are things that an EO cannot do regarding the issue.
“Ang magagawa ng ehekutibo roon ay pagtulungan at i-pursue ang legislative action na yon sa pamamagitan ng proper liaison and coordination (What the executive branch can do is to coordinate and pursue the legislative action through proper liaison and coordination),” he added.
According to the former Palace official, Guevarra said that an EO is meant only to supplement or to give the implementing details of what the law provides.
“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 earlier said.
Labor groups have 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.
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 work place.