MANILA (UPDATED) — Partido Lakas ng Masa vice-presidential aspirant Walden Bello said on Friday that he, together with running mate labor leader Leody De Guzman, will prioritize the welfare of workers if elected.
This after Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso earlier said the regularization of contractual workers will not be an immediate priority of his administration if he wins the 2022 presidential race.
“These workers have waited long enough and have sacrificed so much producing so much wealth in the country--and yet they have been deprived of even just a fair share of the wealth they have produced over the past decades. And yet Isko wants to make workers wait until the situation 'gets better' before he even addresses contractualization,” Bello said in a statement.
“Ka Leody and I believe they have waited long enough and refuse to let them wait a minute longer. We vow to end contractualization on Day 1 of our administration. Among the first set of Executive Orders that will be issued in our administration is one aimed at prohibiting all trilateral agreements and banning manpower agencies so as to ensure that all workers are hired directly and guaranteed all the benefits and legal protections afforded to regular workers,” he added.
Bello said Moreno’s “pro-billionaire” and “anti-worker” position is no different to any other politician in the country “serving billionaire backers.”
“Mayor Isko is at least honest: contractualization is the 'least of his problem'—just as it has been the least of the problems of every single politician who has run this country in the service of billionaire backers," the scholar said.
“But contractualization is the single most important problem for millions of Filipino workers who have suffered for so long from job insecurity, low wages, insufficient benefits, and bad working conditions,” he added.
He nicknamed the Manila mayor “Duterte 2.0”, noting that incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte had promised to end contractualization during his election campaign in 2016.
The end of contractualization (endo) - the practice of renewing a worker's contract every 6 months instead of giving them a full employee status with complete benefits after the probationary period - was one of the campaign promises of Duterte.
In 2018, Duterte urged Congress to pass legislation that will "once and for all" stop illegal contractualization.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III urged Duterte to sign an "endo bill" as urgent in his last year in office, but the president did not even mention the proposal in his last State of the Nation Address.
“Isko, I said earlier, strikes us all as 'Duterte 2.0' But this may well be too kind. Duterte at least paid lip service to improving the condition of workers: he vowed to end contractualization during the campaign—only to renege on this promise when he assumed office. Isko is not even making an effort,” he said.
“He may be softer to the eyes and to the ears than Duterte, but he is already baring his fangs and suggesting to us all that—when the interests of his billionaire backers are at stake—he will be no less, and perhaps even more ruthless, towards workers than Duterte.”
Meanwhile, De Guzman echoed his running mate, reminding the Manila mayor that workers are doing their jobs to provide for their families.
"Ang aking unang hakbang ay isang executive order na magbabalangkas ng ating bagong Labor-First Policy. Lalamnin nito ang pagwakas sa lahat ng anyo ng kontraktwalisasyon, agresibong job creation program at P750 national minimum wage bilang unang hakbang patungong living wage. Aatasan ko rin ang Kongreso na agarang kumilos para i-harmonize at alisin ang lahat ng butas ng mga batas paggawa alinsunod sa bagong polisiya," he said.
(My first step is an executive order that will outline our new Labor- First Policy. It will include an end to all forms of contractualization, an aggressive job creation program, and a P750 national minimum wage as the first step towards a living wage. I will also instruct Congress to act immediately to harmonize and remove all loopholes in labor laws in accordance with the new policy.)
"Ang trabaho ay dapat sapat at may dignidad. Di sila nagtatrabaho para payamanin lamang ang mga bilyonaryo. Ginagawa nila ito upang buhayin ang kanilang mga pamilya. Magkasabay dapat na resolbahin ang kawalan ng trabaho, nakabubuhay na sahod at seguridad sa trabaho."
(The work must be adequate and with dignity. They don’t work just to enrich billionaires, they do it to support their families. Unemployment, living wages, and job security must be resolved simultaneously.)
Domagoso stood by his statement that ending the practice of contractualization would not be a priority during the pandemic.
"I am not misquoted. I stated what I believe," he told reporters on the sidelines of a campaign event in Quezon City.
"What I believe is kumain ka muna, magkatrabaho ka muna. Mairaos muna natin ang pamilya natin," he said.
(What I believe is you need to eat first, you need to have a job first. We have to keep our families afloat first.)
The official campaign period for candidates seeking national posts in the May 9, 2022 elections will start only on Feb. 8, 2022.
- with a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News