By Leslie Ann Aquino and Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday confirmed that President Duterte will no longer sign an executive order (EO)addressing the contractualization of workers, saying the fate of the End-of-Contract, popularly known as endo or 5-5-5, scheme is better left to Congress.
In a press briefing, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the President will just certify as “urgent” the Security of Tenure bill that is pending in Congress.
“Yes, that’s correct. We had a meeting last Friday with Executive Secretary (Salvador) Medialdea and after going through the proposed EOs to be signed by the President, the consensus was that instead of the President signing the EO on the issue of contractualization, he will instead certify as a priority measure the bill that is now pending on security of tenure,” he said.
If it will be certified as urgent, Bello said it means it will be given priority by Senate.
“I think it was (already) approved at the House of Representatives, it is now for the Senate, I think Senate is just waiting for some inputs from the executive branch of government,” he said.
“It should be this year. Probably, once Congress resumes after the barangay elections, that would be a priority bill that will be taken up by the Senate,” added Bello.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed this during his press briefing in Malacañang Thursday morning.
Roque, citing Bello, said that it would be better to let the Congress address the matter (contractualization) as legislation would be much more effective than an EO.
With this development, Roque said that the EO, which was expected to be signed by President Duterte anytime soon, may not be needed anymore.
The Palace official also assured that he will find out if the President will certify the “End of Endo” bill in the Senate as urgent, given that the House of
Representatives has already passed their own version of the bill.
Ending contractualization, particularly the 5-5-5 system, was one of the campaign promises of President Duterte in 2016.
The 5-5-5 endo refers to the termination of workers after five months of working for a company to prevent them from becoming a regular employee, which means they will have benefits.
Labor groups have been asking and waiting for the President to issue an EO to address the matter. But Malacañang earlier explained that an EO can only do as much, like implement an existing law, and not amend one.
Roque also said that President Duterte wants to address the issue soon, saying this was one of his campaign promises.
Meanwhile, Roque said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) informed him that the President has already complied with his election promise to do away with the 5-5-5 endo.
“There is a distinction, however, between service contractors who recognize their employees asregular employees, albeit, they perform for another company and that is the position of the DTI,” he said.
“Now, as far as the DTI is concerned, that is not endo. It is contractual work given by a service company, but the employees of the service company are regular employees of the service company. So as far as the relationship between the employee and the service company is concerned, they are regular employees and therefore, they do not fall under 5-5-5 endo,” he added.
In addressing the issue of contracualization of workers, Roque said that DOLE has already intensified its crackdown on those who violate the law.
“DOLE has beefed up the number of its labor inspectors from 200 to 500 and that’s why they have effectively cracked down on those resorting to prohibited endo,” he said.
Labor groups unhappy
But labor groups, such as PartidoManggagawa (PM), criticized President Duterte for failing to follow through on his campaign promise to end contractualization.
“By opting not to issue an EO and instead leaving it to Congress to address widespread contractualization of labor that has gravely affected workers’ security of tenure and their exercise of other fundamental rights to form unions and collectively bargain, the President has effectively reneged with his campaign promise,” Rene Magtubo, PM national chair, said in a statement.
“We call on all labor groups to close rank, launch protest actions and convert the coming Labor Day commemoration as a national day of workers indignation and protest,” said Magtubo.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno, on their part, said that by refusing to sign the labor sector draft EO, Duterte has totally rejected Filipino workers’ demands for regular and decent jobs.
“Instead, he chose to uphold big business interests in promoting contractual employment therefore subjecting more workers to gross labor rights violations and exploitation,” KMU chairman Elmer Labog said.