A Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) offical believes that the Duterte administration will be able to squeak out the enactment of the much-sought Security of Tenure (SOT) Bill before the end of its term.
DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Santos Benavidez likened the current status of the measure, which seeks to end the practice of contractualization or “Endo”, to a tightly contested basketball game.
“Ang mensahe ko po [sa mga labor groups] ay…kanina may NBA game, panalo ‘yung Milwaukee Bucks. Alam niyo po ‘yung game ay nananalo or natatalo sa last two minutes, sa endgame po nito (My message to labor groups is…earlier there was an NBA game, the Milwaukee Bucks. You know, the outcome of the game is usually decided in the last two minutes, in the endgame),” Benavidez said during a virtual press briefing Wednesday afternoon, July 21.
“Ako po ay naniniwala that in the last two minutes of this administration ay kaya pa po natin na maipasa ‘yung bill on security of tenure, ending Endo (I believe that the bill on security of tenure can still be passed in the last two minutes of this administration),” he said.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) game that Benavidez was referring to was the tightly contested Game 6 of the finals between the Bucks and the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday morning. The Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee won 105-98, clinching the title.
Getting rid of the abusive Endo scheme was a campaign promise to then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. His six-year term as president will end on June 30, 2022.
President Duterte vetoed a version of the SOT Bill during the previous 17th Congress in 2019, despite certifying it as an urgent piece of legislation. The Palace has said that the particular SOT Bill needed to balance the interests of employers and workers.
Earlier Wednesday, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III revealed that he had signed the letter asking the Chief Executive to declare as urgent the refiled measure, Senate Bill (SB) No.1826, which is still pending in the Senate in the current 18th Congress.
Labor groups worry that there might not be enough time for the senators to tackle the bill since the legislature’s work rate typically slows down as the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) nears. The next national elections, which will determine Duterte’s successor, will take place in May 2022.
Benavidez was earlier asked in the press briefing what he thought about the labor groups’ criticism on DOLE’s supposed late-minute move of asking for a re-certification of the pending Endo measure.
“‘Yung pangangailangan po kasing i-certify, ‘yung timing po noon, may mga consideration din katulad nang naipasa na ba? (The need or timing to certify must be based on certain considerations, like has it been passed by the legislature?)
“Naipasa lang po ng Kongreso [House of Representatives] ‘yung version noong December 2020, not to mention na nasa pandemya po tayo. Since sa Kongreso po ay naaprubahan na on third reading noong Disyembre pa, sa tinign po namin ay pwede na rin po kaming magrekomenda ulit ng certification as urgent sa atin pong Presidente (The House of Representatives was only able to pass their version of the bill in December 2020, not to mention we are in a pandemic. Since the House was able to approve the bill on third and final reading last December, we deemed that we could again recommend to the President its certification as urgent),” he explained.
Benavidez recalled that DOLE also backed the certification of the vetoed bill, SB No.806, as urgent.
A bill may only be enacted into law by the President if both legislative chambers (House and Senate) approve it.