Duterte 'somewhat' shelves bill vs endo, new department for OFWs top priority: adviser

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2021 05:26 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2021 05:47 PM

Duterte 'somewhat' shelves bill vs endo, new department for OFWs top priority: adviser 1
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech in Antipolo City, Rizal on July 1, 2021. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA — In President Rodrigo Duterte's last year in office, ending labor contractualization is "somewhat" no longer a legislative priority, which is now topped by the proposed creation of a new government agency that would focus on overseas Filipino workers, one of his advisers said on Thursday. 

Duterte in 2016 promised to stop "endo" or "end of contract", a practice in which some employers end contracts on the fifth month and renew it for 5 months at a time to avoid granting workers regular employee status. 

In 2019, Duterte vetoed an anti-endo bill to achieve a "delicate balance" between the interests of employers and employees. 

Following the veto, "all the sectors have not been voicing out their opinions on this, even the Department of Labor," said newly appointed Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Jacinto Paras. 

"So, medyo hindi naging priority ito ngayon," he said in a Malacañang press briefing. 

(This is somewhat not a priority now.)

"If you look at the reason, why the President has vetoed it, it does— because it was not able to resolve the conflict between the labor and the management... Maybe in due time, I think, that’s still an important proposed legislation." 

Duterte in the lead-up to the 2016 elections said he would stop endo because laborers "deserve no less than [a] comfortable life."

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WHAT ARE DUTERTE'S PRIORITIES 

"As far as the number one priority of the President, he is pushing the approval by the Senate of the Department of OFWs," said Paras. 

Duterte has certified as urgent the bills seeking to create this agency. 

Supporters of the measure say it would address the perennial problems of migrant workers, whose remittances boost the economy. But critics say a new department for OFWs balloon the bureaucracy without addressing the social costs of labor migration. 

Duterte is "also pushing for the resolution of the BARMM because there are conflicts between certain governors and the transition commission," said Paras. 

Some leaders of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have pushed for an extension of its transition authority beyond 2022 when the public would elect new leaders. 

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan is among those who oppose the extension, which he said would leave Bangsamoro leaders without a mandate to rule. 

Duterte has decided to be "neutral" on the issue and leave it up to Congress, his spokesman said in late June. 

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Other "important bills" for Duterte include those concerned with the military pension reform, and the amendment of the Public Service Act and the Foreign Investments Act, Paras said. 

Duterte on July 26 will deliver his last State of the Nation Address, which would tackle his remaining legislative agenda and accomplishments.