Senate bet Matula seeks higher penalties for illegal labor contracting

It is no secret that senatorial candidate Sonny Matula will push for the protection of the labor sector if he wins, but he also explained that a strategy to end labor-only contractualization in the country is to raise employer penalty to a higher range from P30,000 to P50,000 per violation.

Labor leader Sonny Matula is the guest during Vice President Leni Robredo’s radio show on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (BISErbisyong Leni/Facebook)

Currently, Article 303 of the Labor Code imposes a penalty of P5,000 to P10,000 per employee.

“So, mabuti pa sa kanila na i-violate ang Labor Code kasi magaan lamang ang penalty (it is better for them to violate the Labor Code because of the light penalty),” Matula said on Sunday, Feb. 27, over dzXL.

The senatorial candidate, who is running under the ticket of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, is the guest of Robredo’s weekly radio show.

The Vice President has been unable to show up personally in her weekly radio program since the start of the campaign period on Feb. 8.

Matula said that if he wins, he will review Article 303 and impose harsher penalties on employers engaging on labor-only contractualization since even the Supreme Court said this is in violation of Department Order 174 of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

By raising monetary penalties, Matula said employers would think twice before violating the Labor Code and would respect the laws more.

The labor leader and lawyer plans to push for the end of contractualization (Endo) in the Senate, which was earlier vetoed by President Duterte.

“Very frustrated ang mga manggagawa lalong lalo na ‘yung kasapi ng trade unions dahil sa pag-veto ni (Our laborers are very frustrated especially the members of the trade unions because of the veto by) Pangulong Duterte)...We are disappointed with the action of the president to veto the bill,” he said.

Endo will provide security of tenure to employees who become victims of short-term contractualization, wherein employers simply renew job contracts to avoid paying benefits.

Matula cited the International Labor Organization (ILO) which said that around seven to 10 million are under “precarious working arrangements” such as “abusive contractualization and illegal contractual arrangements.”

Meanwhile, the lawyer also plans to review the Rice Tarrification Law and propose for the restructuring of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

He lamented the need for the country to import rice and other agricultural products when the Philippines should not be doing this because it is an agricultural country.

“May problema talaga tayo sa administrasyon (We really have a problem with the administration),” Matula said.

His other proposal is to merge the DA and DAR since the country is about to end its Agrarian Reform Program.

Doing so will allow the agencies to focus on the country’s agricultural sector while BFAR should be a separate agency because of the Philippines’ vast maritime resources.