Bam Aquino on endo bill: It's pro-worker, but needs improvements

MANILA, Philippines – Otso Diretso’s reelectonist Senator Bam Aquino said on Labor Day Wednesday, May 1, that the current Security of Tenure Bill pending at the upper chamber needs more improvement but that it is a version that is already pro-worker.

“‘Yung version po namin, kailangan pang ayusin ng konti pero palagay ko po ‘kung version na nail-file namin kasama ng mga grupo po dito, yun po yung version na makakatulong po talaga sa mga manggagawa,” Aquino said on the sidelines of the Labor Day rally organized by the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa or Sentro. 

(Our version needs improvements but I think the version that we filed, together with the groups here, it’s the version that will really help our workers.)

Aquino was referring to Senate Bill 1826, which passed second reading, and a consolidation of other measures, one of which he authored.

Nuances

A big convergence of groups where Otso Diretso bets were present endorse SB 1826. Sonny Matula and Allan Montaño of Labor Win spoke at the labor rally organized by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) bannering the bill. 

Matula told Rappler he is satisfied even with the House version of the bill, although his fellow Labor Win candidates Neri Colmenares and Ka Leody De Guzman slammed the measure as legalizing contractualization.

The devil is in the details.

Contractualization’s most thorny issue is labor-only contracting which is prohibited. However, the Labor Code’s definition has allowed many companies and agencies to still engage labor-only contracting and still pass it off as legal. (READ: Group endorses Labor Win, 4 Otso Diretso bets to champion workers' rights)

Article 106 of the Labor Code says: “There is “labor-only” contracting where the person supplying workers to an employer does not have substantial capital OR investment in the form of tools, equipment, machineries, work premises, among others, and the workers recruited and placed by such person are performing activities which are directly related to the principal business of such employer.”  (Emphasis ours)

“Gusto namin i-sharpen ‘yung definition ng labor-only contracting na yung substantial capital at substantial investment hindi ‘or’ dapat ‘and,’” Matula told Rappler.

(We want to sharpen the definition of labor-only contracting that the substantial capital and substantial investment should not be “or” but “and”.)

If the law’s wording is changed to “and,” a contractor must both have substantial capital and investment, which for Matula would significantly clamp down on third parties engaging in labor-only contracting because most of them has only either capital or investment.

SB 1826

Senate Bill 1826 does not change “or” to “and” but it adds one whole chunk of qualifier to the provision.

The bill wants to amend Article 106 to this: “There is “labor-only” contracting where the job contractor, whether licensed or not, merely recruits and supplies or placed workers to a contractee regardless of whether or not he/she has substantial capital or investment in the form of tools, equipment, machineries, work premises, among others, OR the workers recruited and supplied OR placed by such person are performing activities which are directly related to the principal business of such employer.”

In SB 1826, there is labor-only contracting when the job contractor “merely recruits and supplies or placed workers to a contractee,” and makes the capital and investment only secondary definitions to what is illegal. 

Akbayan Partylist Representative Tom Villarin said there is risk this might be watered down as it progresses through the Senate.

Aquino is optimistic: “Sa pagkakaalam ko marami sa Senate ang suportado ito, we’re hoping mapasa ito at the soonest possible time.” (As far as I know many senators support this so we’re hoping to pass this at the soonest possible time.)

Otso Diretso

END ENDO. Otso Diretso bets Chel Diokno and Erin Tau00c3u00b1ada join the march on Labor Day, May 1, 2019, to call for the end of contractualization.

Photo by Nini Hernandez

Otso Diretso bet Chel Diokno, a human rights lawyer, said he “will not allow any circumvention of the security of tenure” if elected to the Senate.

“Klaro naman ang basic principle diyan eh, kapag ikaw ay required sa sang kumpanya at yung serbisyo mo ay service that the company needs then you should really be considered as a regular employee,” said Diokno, referring to the definition of a regular worker in jurisprudence which is a person whose job is “necessary and desirable” to the company.

(The basic principle is clear, if you are required by a company and your service is a service that the company needs then you should really be considered as a regular employee.)

Former Quezon Representative and Otso Diretso bet Erin Tañada, who spoke at Sentro’s rally Wednesday morning, threw full support behind SB 1826 and slammed other reelectionist senators for not supporting the measure. (READ: How 7 reelectionist senators voted on key issues, bills)

“Ang masakit nito, piniling ipasa nila Senator Cynthia Villar, Senator Grace Poe, Senator Sonny Angara, Senator Nancy Binay, at Senator Koko Pimentel ang TRAIN kaysa Security of Tenure Bill. Kaya nga kailangan nilang magpaliwanag sa mga manggagawa dahil sa pahirap na ito sa mamamayang Pilipino,” Tañada said.

(What hurts here is that  Senators Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara,  Nancy Binay, and Koko Pimentel chose the tax reform law or TRAIN over the Security of Tenure Bill. That’s why they need to explain to the workers because this is a burden on Filipinos.)Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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