One of the hottest legislation topics in the country today is the proposed bill that would ideally put an end to the bane of the low-rung Filipino working man’s job experience: employment contractualization. The notion that a labor-only employee will never reach regularization and instead be cut off according to their contract is one thing labor groups have been fighting in recent years, as embodied in the “End Endo” (End of Contract) bill being pushed in Congress. On Thursday evening Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo crushed labor groups’ hopes by announcing the bill has been vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte, only to say otherwise immediately afterwards.
CNN Philippines reports that there has been some confusion on July 25 over the status of the Security of Tenure (SOT) Bill, which would legally prevent business from putting a fixed end of employment on contracts for labor-only workers. It had already been passed to the Office of the President where, if he does not sign or veto (automatically enacting or rejecting the bill respectively), will have it immediately lapse into law on Saturday, July 27. Speaking to the press last night, Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Duterte has vetoed the bill, but 30 minutes later took his words back.
A short message by Panelo to the press read, “Security Tenure Bill not yet vetoed. PRRD still studying the pros and cons. Sorry for the error. We will know tomorrow for sure.” It implies that the President might actively take action on the SOT Bill before it lapses, no later than this Friday, July 26, though whether to approve or throw the bill out remains the question. This is but the latest of several instances where the President’s Office has been giving out “mixed messages” on where Duterte stands on the Endo argument, with employees and businesses at heated odds.
The President made the end of contractualization a plank in his campaign platform in the lead-up to the 2016 Elections, but while in office has not invested as much time on the subject like he did for the war on drugs and corruption. He did marked as urgent any Congress legislation to end Endo. The current SOT Bill was ratified by both Houses of the 17th Congress in May 29 before they adjourned in June.
While labor groups championed the bill, business firms have petitioned President Duterte to veto any legislation to that effect, claiming that the provisions to effectively regularize employees without Endo would discourage foreign investment, which tend to go to countries that pay workers on the cheap.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News
ADDENDUM: As of an Inquirer.net report at 11:03 AM of July 26, it has been confirmed that the President has definitively vetoed the Security of Tenure Bill. A Presidential statement explaining his veto can be viewed on the Inquirer website. To summarize, President Duterte believes the bill overreaches its bounds, the actual objective being just to target abuses while allowing businesses liberty to choose practices benefiting management and their employees. “Legitimate” job-contracting should not be included with illegal labor-only contracting, as both are apparently targeted by the provisions of the SOT Bill.