'Balakayojan!': Sotto hits Roque on call to pass 'anti-endo' bill

Published July 20, 2021, 5:02 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III could not help but call out Presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s “inaccuracy” in asking Congress to pass the bill addressing the abusive practice of contractualization in businesses.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines)

While he did not specifically mention the Palace official, the Senate leader on Tuesday, July 20, corrected Roque for insinuating that lawmakers failed to act on the Security of Tenure Bill, or so-called “anti-endo (end-of-contract)” bill, despite President Duterte’s certification.

“Inaccuracy galore! A certain exec[utive] is asking Congress to pass Anti-Endo bill! Huh? We did! President vetoed it July 26, 2019!” Sotto said Twitter.

“Balakayojan (Whatever)!” he further wrote.

Senator Joel Villanueva also recalled pushing for the anti-endo bill during the 17th Congress, only to end up in vain with Duterte’s rejection of the measure.

“Right after the Ending Endo bill was vetoed in 2019, we filed it immediately because it was never made clear to us the reason of the veto on a legislation certified as urgent and was deliberated extensively and comprehensively in Congress,” said Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on labor.

“Until today, we are waiting for the executive to present to us their proposed bill, so we can start the deliberations in the committee level,” he clarified.

In maintaining that the Security of Tenure Bill is still part of the Duterte administration’s priority legislation, Roque called on Congress to act to measure before the President’s term ends in 2022.

“Unfortunately, no amount of certification can lead the enactment of the law if the wisdom of the Congress is otherwise,” the Chief Executive’s spokesman said in his Monday briefing.

Last July 8, however, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Undersecretary said the bill to address the end-of-contract scheme “is not a priority anymore” since it was not being talked about.

“Times change, and leaders too, if not their minds. Great legislative battles take years to be won. Some encompass many Congresses, as in the case of our Ending Endo bill,” Villanueva said.

“In the meantime, much work remains to be done to protect workers from the ravages of the pandemic. COVID[-19] is the greatest endo maker. Sana po ay dumating na dagsa-dagsang bakuna para mabakunahan na ang ating mga manggagawa at makabalik na sa trabaho ng walang alinlangan o pangamba (I hope that more vaccines will be delivered to the country so that workers can be vaccinated and can return to work without fear or uncertainty),” he added.

During the 17th Congress, the Senate, on May 22, 2019, passed on third and final reading the Security of Tenure bill, while the House of Representatives approved on final reading its counterpart bill in 2018.

Despite previously certifying the measure as urgent, Duterte vetoed the Congress-ratified bill, saying: “Businesses should be allowed to determine whether they should outsource certain activities or not, especially when job-contracting will result in economy and efficiency in their operations.”

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it will again ask Duterte to certify the anti-endo bill as urgent.