MANILA - The Philippines could not afford business closures that could lead to a decline in job opportunities, Malacañang said Friday as it defended President Rodrigo Duterte's rejection of the security of tenure bill.
"The constitutional guarantee of security of tenure does not authorize this government to oppress or cause the self-destruction of our employers," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"While no business can survive without its employees, nor can persons be employed without a business hiring. Labor and management cannot exist without each other."
Panelo added that the measure's passage could "discourage investment and remove the great potential of providing employment to our unemployed."
"PRRD (Duterte) realized that an overreaching prohibition and without identifying exemptions on farming out services, deemed legitimate contracting, will adversely affect businesses, and trigger their closure thereby cause the termination of employment of our workers," he said.
In his veto message, Duterte had said approving the bill widening the prohibition against labor-only contracting would "place capital and management at an impossibly difficult predicament with adverse consequences to the Filipino workers in the long term."
The “delicate balance” between the interests of employers and employees must be maintained, he said.
Despite the veto, Panelo said the President's promise to end contractualization will be pursued within his term.
"The President’s resolve to put a stop to the practice of exploiting the working class is undiminished as exemplified by the regularization of 462,428 workers from August 2016 to May 2019," he said.
He cited Duterte's Executive Order No. 51, issued on Labor Day 2018, which prohibits labor-only contracting.
Duterte had promised during the May 2016 presidential campaign to stop "endo" or the hiring and firing of workers in cycles to avoid granting them a regular employment status and corresponding benefits.
Malacañang said it is confident that lawmakers would come up with a measure that would protect both the rights of the workers and the business sector.
"As we sincerely thank Congress for heeding the President’s call to enact measures which are protective of the rights of our laborers, we also invite them to continue crafting a policy that will uphold both social justice and fair play by giving due consideration on the socio-economic survival of our nation," Panelo said.