By Ellson Quismorio
Real talk, or just a slip of the tongue?
Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP) Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza said in a press conference Thursday that the workers’ sector was practically “duped” with President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto of the much-sought Security of Tenure Bill.
“Naisahan talaga (We were really duped), with due respect to the President,” Mendoza said when asked by a reporter whether or not Filipino workers had been duped in connection with the issue.
“As we’ve already mentioned, 19 years na trabaho…The mother of all bills talaga is yung security of tenure na talagang hinihintay ng lahat because it was a campaign promise. And then…,” the second-term solon said, before suddenly changing his tone.
(It’s worth 19 years of work…the security of tenure is really the mother of all bills because everyone’s been waiting for it and it was a campaign promise. And then…)
“Well, hindi naman kami naisahan ni Presidente, naisahan [kami] sa mga ibang sector na other interests (We weren’t duped by the President, we were duped by other sectors that had other interests),” continued Mendoza.
It was on July 26 when Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that Duterte had in fact vetoed or rejected the legislation on the security of tenure–the one bill that was supposed to end “endo” or the practice of contractualization by abusive employers in the Philippines.
Duterte delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives four days prior, and inconspicuously left out the topic in his speech.
Despite walking back on his statement, Mendoza still aired his frustrations over the persisting regime of contractualization or the cyclical hiring and firing of workers.
“Whether we like it or not, there are actual workers in all industries na hindi regular (who aren’t regular). Walang (They have no) SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, social benefits. Hopefully, we’re trying again in the 18th Congress, that bill will be refiled. I’m hoping for the support of the Party-List [Coalition] Foundation.”
The argument against the Security of Tenure Bill has been the financial stress that it would supposedly place on industries, thereby causing them to close down. It would also allegedly discourage the entry of investors since it raises the cost of labor in the country.
Then-Davao City mayor Duterte won the 2016 presidential race via landslide, garnering 16 million votes.
If Mendoza is to be believed, the estimated nine million contractual workers in the country have a lot to do with this victory.
“Duterte sila (They we are with Duterte). Yes, I can say it with strong conviction, they voted for him because of all the presidential candidates, he was the one who spoke about issues close to the manggagawang Pilipino (Filipino workers), which is, ‘Hindi kami regular. Kami ay kontraktuwal lang (We’re not regular. We’re merely contractual workers).”