MANILA – Senators on Friday hit President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to veto a bill that sought to end labor contractualization, one of his campaign promises.
Duterte on Friday vetoed the Security of Tenure Bill, saying it "unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting.”
The President said he vetoed the proposed measure because he wanted to maintain the “delicate balance” between the interests of employers and employees.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, principal author of the bill, said that while there is always concern for loss of profit, stakeholders must also put the welfare of contractual employees in mind.
“We are always concerned of how much of our profit will be eroded by the SOT bill. Ang hiling po sana natin sa usapin ng security of tenure ay makiisa sa mga mangaggawa na ang iniisip lagi ay pangtustos sa kanilang pamilya tuwing ma e-ENDO,” Villanueva said in a statement.
(We wish that in the discussions on the security of tenure, we become one with employees who always worry every time their contract ends.)
“Unfortunately, profit wins again with the veto of the SOT bill,” he said.
The senator said government officials must always think of ways to alleviate the suffering of those who have the least in life.
“Ngunit ang katotohanan, minsan ay mas matimbang ang mga makapangyarihan at naghaharing-uri. Ang pagka veto ng ENDO ay isa sa mga manipistasyon ng mga ganitong pagkakataon,” he said.
(But the truth is, the will of the powerful bears more weight. And the veto of the anti-endo bill is one manifestation of this.)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he was “crestfallen” after the veto of the bill, but noted “that’s how democracy works.” He said the measure could be refiled in the current Congress.
Sotto said procedurally, the current Congress could override Duterte’s veto by two-thirds vote and enact the bill into law.
‘GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER’
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said it made no sense that Malacañang declared the bill as urgent only to veto it after its passage in Congress.
"I’m totally bewildered [by] this new development. Does that mean that a certification [of urgency] from the Palace no longer means that it is a priority?" Zubiri said in a statement.
"The Cabinet should get their act together as it would make us legislators look stupid and embarrass the President as well as he mentions these measures during the SONA (State of the Nation Address)," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said the vetoing of the bill was regrettable, since the Senate “worked hard to pass a balanced bill that would protect the welfare of the workers while maintaining the stability of businesses.”
“Our workers have waited for two decades to finally have legislation that would prohibit illegal company practices of contractualization and provide them with security of tenure,” Drilon said in a statement.
“They came into 2016 with very high hopes that the practice would be prohibited. Now, we are back to square one.”
Drilon said the current Congress could refile a similar measure but that the labor department and the National Economic and Development Authority must be on the same page about the proposed measure.
He noted that the bill passed by Congress “essentially mirrors” DOLE's position but the NEDA had a different take on the matter.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said the bill needs to be “tweaked” so that “it would benefit not only the employers but also the workers.”
‘DUTERTE VETOED WEAK BILL’
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, noted that Duterte vetoed a version of the bill “that was not even at full strength” as it did not include a provision against fixed-term employment, which she said would have been the heart and soul of the bill.
“The bill would not even have tilted the balance between labor and management. All major labor groups rejected it,” she said in a statement.
“It would have been acceptable if the President had vetoed the measure because it is insufficient in defending workers from labor contractualization and asked Congress to pass a better version of the law. Yet, he quashed it because he thought it was remarkably biased to the workers.”
In vetoing the bill, Duterte explained that while labor-only contracting must be prohibited, legitimate job-contracting should be allowed, provided that the contractor is well capitalized, has sufficient investments, and affords its employees all the benefits provided under labor laws.
Businesses should be allowed to determine whether they should outsource certain roles or not, “especially when job contracting will result in economy and efficiency in their operations, with no detriment to the workers.”
“This is especially critical since empirical data shows that the Philippines is currently at a disadvantage already in terms of cost and flexibility of labor use compared to its peers in the region,” he said.