Palace on 'endo' backlash: Some labor groups hard to please

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2018 02:13 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the 102nd Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Mason in the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City on April 26, 2018.Joey Dalumpines, Malacanang Photo

MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday said there seems to be no way to satisfy labor groups who criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order on contractualization.

Duterte on May 1, Labor Day, signed the EO enforcing the prohibition against illegal contracting and subcontracting, but labor groups were not satisfied, saying the order merely reiterated what the labor code states and did not address their demand of completely eradicating job contractualization.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque however said labor groups seem bent on criticizing the President despite not having seen the EO itself.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III read almost the entire portion of the EO, including its crucial and most contentious portion, during Tuesday’s Labor Day celebration. The copy of the EO, however, was only released on Wednesday.

“Hindi pa nga lumalabas 'yung text ng EO, binabanatan na po ng labor groups ‘no. So ibig sabihin, kahit ano pong lamanin niyan eh talagang babanatan nila. At talagang ngayon po, ang ninanais nila ay maging illegal ang lahat ng klase ng kontraktuwalisasyon,” Roque told radio DZMM.

(The EO’s text has not even been released yet they were already criticizing the government. That means whatever the EO contains, they will still criticize the government. What they want is for all forms of job contracting to be outlawed.)

“Kaya tuloy sabi ko, baka naman kahit anong pirmahan ni Presidente na EO, babatikusin pa rin kasi parang tradisyon na iyan sa May 1, na talagang gagalaw ang hanay ng mga organized labor groups. Pero tanggap naman po natin lahat iyan.”

(Whatever EO the President signs, they will oppose because it has been their tradition to hold protest actions every May 1. But we have accepted that.)

Roque added that as far as the executive branch is concerned, the President already fulfilled his campaign promise of eradicating “endo” or end of contract scheme, where employees will be terminated before the end of their probationary period and then rehired for the same job, still without the benefits being given to a regular employee.

“Pinapatupad ng Pangulo ang batas laban sa endo. Iyan po ang pangako niya noong nakalipas na eleksyon - iyan pong nakasaad sa EO,” Roque said in a separate interview on radio DWFM.

(The President was implementing the law against endo. That was his campaign promise and that is stated in the EO.)

Roque said while he agrees that the EO offered nothing completely new in addressing the contractualization issue, this should not come as a surprise as the executive branch is only the implementor of laws that the Congress makes.

“Totoo po, ito po ay reiteration lang ng batas, pero ganiyan po talaga ang katungkulan ng ehekutibo. Hindi po talaga taga-gawa ng polisiya ang ehekutibo, tagapagpatupad lamang at ang tingin ko, ang bago diyan iyong political will ni Presidente na talagang ipatutupad niya ang pagtatapos ng endo,” he told DZMM.

(While it’s true that this is just a reiteration of what is in the law, that’s how the executive branch works. The executive branch does not make policies; it just implements them. But what is remarkable here is the political will of the President to implement the policy against endo.)

Roque said this limitation is the reason the President is pushing for the passage of the security of tenure bill.

In his Labor Day speech, Duterte said he had certified as urgent the passage of the bill on security of tenure pending in Congress “to once and for all address the issue and provide long-term solutions that would further strengthen the workers’ right to security of tenure.”

Labor groups had earlier submitted their own draft EO to the President. They sought to include in the EO a provision stating that “direct hiring of the employee by the principal employer shall be the general norm in employment relations.” 

This stipulation, however, was not included in the EO.

Labor groups alleged that the version of the EO that prevailed was the one submitted by the employers’ groups and the Department of Trade and Industry.

While labor groups said the EO seemed to favor employers, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines said it still had reservations about the order.

ECOP said it found "worrisome" the definition of “security of tenure” in the EO and the possible “loose or absurd” rules of engagement in the order’s enforcement.

In the EO, security of tenure is defined as the “right of employees not to be dismissed or removed without just or authorized cause and observance of procedural due process consistent with the Constitution, Labor Code, as amended, and prevailing jurisprudence.“