MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order stopping illegal contractualization, warning firms involved in the practice that their days were “numbered.”
Duterte said his government would "never cease in its effort to provide Filipino workers with dignified and meaningful employment."
"To all non-compliant and abusive employers who are engaged in labor contracting, your days are numbered," he said, addressing those engaged in illegal labor contracting.
The President added that he has ordered the labor department to “submit to my office a list of all the companies engaged in or suspected to be engaged in labor-only contracting.”
“I have warned you before and I warn you again… stop ‘endo’ (end of contract) and illegal contractualization. I will see to it that our laws are strictly enforced. The government will not rest until we end this shameful labor practice,” he said.
Duterte, who promised during the campaign to stop "endo", said laborers "deserve no less than decent and comfortable lives.”
Before Duterte signed the EO, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in April that the President might not issue an EO and would instead support a "security of tenure" bill pending in the Senate.
Bello read portions of the EO before he introduced the President at a job fair in Cebu City. An official copy of the order was not immediately available.
Under Section 2 of the signed EO, contracting or subcontracting is strictly prohibited “when undertaken to circumvent the worker’s rights to security of tenure, self-organization, and collective bargaining and peaceful concerted activities pursuant to the 1987 Philippine Constitution.”
Labor groups, in their proposed EO, had wanted the inclusion of a provision stating that “direct hiring of the employee by the principal employer shall be the general norm in employment relations.”
This portion, however, was not in the EO that Bello read Tuesday. Labor groups complained that the version of the EO that prevailed was the one submitted by the employers’ groups and the Department of Trade and Industry.
The President said while the EO will help “alleviate” the plight of workers, it is not enough. He said an amendment of the Labor Code is needed to keep it “attuned to the realities of our times.”
“I remain firm in my commitment to put an end to ‘endo’ and illegal contractualization. However, I believe that in order to implement an effective and lasting solution to the problems brought about by contractualization, Congress needs to enact a law amending the Labor Code,” he said.
“I could only do so much and a mere Executive Order is not enough because you have to change or modify or entirely abrogate some of the provisions.”
LABOR GROUPS NOT IMPRESSED
Labor groups and militant lawmakers were not impressed with the EO, while an employers group said the order managed to balanced the interest of laborers and their employers.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines said the EO was "well-crafted" and "balances" workers' welfare with legal contractual employment.
"Endo" or "5-5-5" is an "illegal practice" that must be stopped by government, labor and employers, ECOP said.
"To a great extent, under the government of President Duterte, we can safely say 'endo' is fast-dying if it is not dead in the water yet," it said.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the EO is "useless (walang silbi)" since prohibitions on labor-only contracting are already found in the Labor Code.
"Ang kailangan ngayon ay maglabas ng policy na ipagbawal ang lahat na forms of job contracting. Gusto lang ng EO na ito ay pahupain ang galit ng mga manggagawa sa pagtalikod ni Pangulong Duterte sa pangako niyang wakasan ang 'endo' at kontraktuwalisasyon," Zarate said.
(What is needed now is a policy that bans all forms of job contracting. This EO only serves to appease workers who are angry at President Duterte for turning his back on his promise to stop 'endo' and contractualization.)
Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis party-list said there was nothing new offered in Duterte’s EO.
“That was just a reiteration of existing labor laws that have been proven anti-worker. Prohibiting labor-only contraction is already there but employers continue to circumvent and abuse,” Casilao said.
“What the workers demanded is total prohibition of contractualization by virtue of direct hiring.”
Casilao said permissible and allowable contractualization should only be limited to seasonal and project-based work “with a strict provision of prohibiting repeated hiring of project-based [workers] with the same principal employer.”
Labor leaders Elmer Labog of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and Renato Magtubo of Nagkaisa said the EO appeared to favor employers. Regularization should be the norm, they said.
“Malinaw sa inintrega naming EO ay nagtatakda na ang main mode of employment ay regularization at exemption na lamang ang kontraktuwalisasyon,” Labog said.
(It was clear in the EO we proposed that the main mode of employment should be regularization and that contractualization should only be an exemption.)
As Duterte announced his issuance of the EO, labor groups held mass protests across the country. KMU said about 150,000 workers will participate in various protest actions around the country.
Other critics of the government were also not impressed by the EO.
“What [the] President did is reaffirm ‘endo’ bans already in law, which will impact government hires, threw endo hot potato to Congress where nothing will happen, announced a shame campaign to hit companies that can now be shaken down for endo-accusations (w/out due process to validate),” said former Palace communications official Manuel Quezon III.
Senators, meanwhile, reaffirmed their commitment to uphold workers rights as the nation observed Labor Day.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said he would work to curb abuse in the workplace and enforce safety standards in the workplace.
Sen. Sonny Angara called on government to address concerns of workers, especially those in the Middle East. Workers in Kuwait have no representation after a diplomatic row led to the expulsion of the Philippine Ambassador, Renato Villa.
"The economic contribution of OFWs cannot be overstated. It is but proper that the government address their concerns and ensure their well-being before they could even leave the country and especially during their stay abroad,” Angara said.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said workers should be provided with avenues to "further enhance their skills and competencies."
-- with reports from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News