Senator Villanueva refiles bill prohibiting labor-only contracting; Duterte explains why it was vetoed

Joel Villanueva. Photo: Jonathan Cellona/ABS-CBN News
Joel Villanueva. Photo: Jonathan Cellona/ABS-CBN News

Philippine Senator Joel Villanueva today refiled the Security of Tenure (SOT) bill, commonly known as the anti-endo bill, that prohibits labor-only contracting after President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed it three days ago.

The version that Villanueva, the bill’s principal author, filed today was the same one that Duterte vetoed. Villanueva filed the same version of the bill because he wanted to know which provisions the president objected to, reported CNN Philippines. 

“We go back to Grade 1…This is exactly the same measure that was certified as [a] priority and urgent by the President,” Villanueva was quoted saying by Rappler. He said Duterte’s veto was “baseless” and only shows that there is a “growing problem of misinformation and confusion in the government.”

In his two page-message sent to Congress on Friday, Duterte said he vetoed the bill because it “unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting.”

“I believe the sweeping expansion of the definition of labor-only contracting destroys the delicate balance and will place capital and management at an impossibly difficult predicament with adverse consequences to the Filipino workers in the long term,” Duterte said, according to CNN. 

However, Villanueva said that Duterte’s assumption was wrong. He also said that he was disappointed at the president’s advisers, specifically the National Economic Development Authority, whom he believes led Duterte to become misinformed about the bill.

“This is wrong because it’s the same definition that was certified by the president. It’s wrong to say that it will end all forms of contractualization,” he said.

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

The bill classifies workers into four types: regular, probationary, project, and seasonal. According to the bill, probationary and seasonal workers should have the same rights as regular ones, including being paid the minimum wage and government-mandated insurance.

Duterte promised that he would end all forms of labor-only contracting as early as his campaign for the presidency in 2016. In 2018, he asked Congress to pass the bill and in September, he certified it as “urgent.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said today that Duterte was surprised that there have been many negative reactions to his decision to veto the bill.

“He (Duterte) was surprised why there were negative reactions to his decision to veto the SOT bill because from his assessment, and probably some inputs from his advisers, he thought that this was in keeping with his commitment to secure the tenure of the workers [while] taking into consideration the situation of the business sector,” The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Bello.

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