MANILA, Philippines — As thousands of labor groups troop to the streets during the Labor Day protest on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the executive order (EO) prohibiting illegal contracting, or subcontracting, and strengthening workers’ rights to security of tenure in the country.
Duterte signed the EO in front of thousands of job applicants and local officials gathered at the IEC Pavilion in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, in an event organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Though he signed the order, the President admitted that the EO is not enough as Congress should still enact a law to amend the or create a new Labor Code.
“I remain firm to my commitment to put an end to endo and illegal contractualization. However I believe that in order to implement an effective lasting solution to the problems brought about by contractualiztion, Congress needs to enact a law amending the Labor Code,” he said.
“Alam mo, it’s outdated. I think Congress should come up wth a new Labor Code to keep it attuned to the realities of our times,” he added.
Duterte said he “could only do so much” and a mere EO is “not enough.”
“You have to change or modify or entirely abrogate some of the provisions. I cannot be a legislator, it is not allowed. But I can implement because there are laws already and ang aking EO would help a lot in alleviating the problem,” he explained.
Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the signed EO but Duterte said it has a “provision against illegal contracting and subcontracting,” and ensures “workers’ right to security, self-organization, and collective bargaining.”
EO ‘useless,’ ‘just a show’
But some progressive lawmakers and labor leaders doubted the Duterte’s EO to truly address “endo” or end of contract, a scheme wherein companies let go of workers before they complete six months of service to avoid workers’ regularization.
During the monumental march against “endo” participated by rival labor groups, Edwin Bustillos, labor sectoral representative at the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), said they suspect that the EO which Duterte signed was the version by the DOLE, Department of Industry (DTI), and employer groups.
At present there are two EO drafts, the one crafted by labor groups Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Nagkaisa, and the other one made by DTI, DOLE, and employer groups.
“Kung ang pipirmahan nya ay ang sa DOLE, hindi acceptable ‘yan sa kilusang paggawa at lalo lang nyang palalalain ang kontraktwalisyasyon. Ang suspetya namin ‘yun yung DTI-DOLE, dahil kung ang pipirmahan nya ay ‘yung sa amin, pinirmahan nya na dapat ‘yun nung April 16, at hinarap nya kami,” Bustillos said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao downplayed Duterte’s move as “useless” and “an attempt to appease the public’s anger.”
“Walang silbi ang EO na nilagdaan dahil ang pagbababawal sa labor only contracting (LOC) ay nasa Labor Code na. Ang kailangan ngayon ay maglabas ng policy na ipagbawal ang lahat na forms of job contracting,” Zarate said.
“Gusto lang ng EO na ito ay pahupain ang galit ng mga manggagawa sa pagtalikod ni Pang. Duterte sa pangako nyang wakasan ang ENDO at kontraktwalisasyon,” he added.
Casilao also pointed out that there is nothing new with the EO as it only “reiterates” existing labor laws in the country, which had been proven as “anti-worker.”
“What the workers demanded is total prohibition of contractualization by virtue of direct hiring. Permissible and allowable contractualization should only be limited to seasonal and project based work with a strict provision of prohibiting repeated hiring of project based with same principal employer,” he added.
Kabataan Rep.Sarah Elago slammed the President for “desperately attempt(ing) to put up a show by signing an EO claiming to strengthen security of tenure.”
This, she said, is because was because of the “historic mobilization today of rival labor federations marching together to end contractualization.”
“This utter deception is unacceptable… The real evil is in contractualization, not only in subcontracting,” she said.
“To accept a weak and compromising EO and to not push for the end of contractualization in all forms would be a huge disservice to the long-fought struggle for workers’ rights and welfare,” the lawmaker added.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Women’s Party said Duterte’s Endo EO was just “a recycled piece of trash.”
“President Duterte’s Executive Order against ‘illegal’ contractualization merely recycles existing laws and issuances that do not in any way mandate the regularization of all workers.
“We fiercely reject this lame and late gimmickry as we stand firm in repealing Articles 106-109 of the Labor Code which are exploited by capitalists to deny regularization of workers,” they added.
Thousands of protesters registered their wrath against the Duterte administration’s unfulfilled promises on Tuesday.
Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) led a “homeless camp” in front of the National Housing Authority (NHA) before converging with various labor groups along Welcome Rotunda, and finally staging programs in Mendiola, Manila. (davaotoday.com)