Duterte vetoes bill that prohibits labor-only contracting

Activists protest against labor-only contracting. <i>Photo: Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Sentro/FB</i>
Activists protest against labor-only contracting. Photo: Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Sentro/FB

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a bill that would have put an end to labor-only contracting, which he had promised to do while campaigning for the presidency in 2016.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed Duterte’ decision to reporters earlier today, The Philippine Star reported.

The security of tenure bill would have prohibited labor-only contracting, a common practice also known as “endo” or “contractualization,” wherein businesses hire manpower for less than six months so that they don’t need to provide benefits which the law requires for regular employees.

Duterte was all for a law that ends endo as recently as his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year where he asked Congress to pass legislation that will end contractualization “once and for all.” He also certified the bill’s passing as urgent in September.

According to data released by the Department of Labor and Employment in May last year, fast-food chain Jollibee had the most number of workers suspected to be affected by labor-only contracting. Other companies on the list were Dole Philippines and telco PLDT.

READ: Party-list lawmakers slam Duterte’s security group for confiscating protest attires, props during SONA

However, some labor groups noticed that Duterte did not discuss endo in his most recent SONA on Monday.

“You promised that when you were campaigning. That is one of the main reseason why many workers, presumably, voted for him. And now you won’t explain to the public what’s happening with the law that you asked for in the first place,” said Josua Mata, Secretary-General of labor group Sentro, said in Filipino during a press conference.

Following the SONA, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia told ABS-CBN News that some businesses have asked to meet with the president to discuss the bill. Then last night, two days before the bill would have lapsed into law, spokesman Panelo told reporters that Duterte has vetoed it, only to take this back shortly after. He said that the president was still “studying the pros and cons,” Rappler reported.

However, based on Panelo’s declaration today, it looks like Duterte indeed decided to veto the security of tenure bill.

And labor groups are not happy about it.

“Mr. Duterte’s argument for vetoing it is the final confirmation of his insincerity when he promised to end contractualization during his presidential campaign,” Sentro said on its Facebook page today.

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