MANILA, Philippines – No to labor contractualization.
That’s the position that all 5 presidential bets took on Sunday, April 24, during the 3rd presidential debate in Pangasinan.
All candidates said "endo" or the colloquial term for "end of contract" is illegal. It is the process by which companies hire employees for less than 6 months to avoid being covered by the labor code requirement to regularize employment after that period.
This allows businesses to skip giving mandatory bonuses and benefits to regular employees.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he would “stop” it as it prevents Filipinos from acquiring skills and experience to apply for better jobs both here and abroad.
As an example, Duterte said, graduates of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority would not hone their skills if they keep on changing their jobs every so often.
"Our people cannot ever acquire the experience or the enterprise to be an electrician, kasi 'yung iba magkakargador sa ibang trabaho. 'Yung iba wala talagang trabaho," Duterte said.
If he wins, Duterte said, he would meet with leaders of both chambers of Congress to ask them to pass the law banning contractualization.
“We will immediately stop it. Call the Speaker and Senate President and...call mostly majority...you pass this bill immediately.... I need it first week of my admin...ganun lang,” Duterte said.
Administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, for his part, vowed to pass the said law within 3 months in office.
Roxas said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has memorandum circulars banning the practice, but the problem is the absence of a law.
“Makakaasa ka sa 3 buwan pagkaupo, matatapos ang endo. Bakit? Kinakailangan ng batas. Ang loophole nasa batas. Ang DOLE memo circular, pero ito hindi napapatupad dahil may butas sa batas. Kailangan batas ito. Sasarhan ang mga loopholes na ito para magkaroon ng saysay ang mga kautusang ito,” he said.
(You have my word that within 3 months upon my assumption, we will end the practice of endo. We need a law, the loopholes are in the law. The DOLE has circulars, but we need a law to give teeth to these circulars.)
More than ending contractualization, Roxas said it is more important to create quality and permanent jobs.
He added he would add jobs in the manufacturing and business process outsourcing industry by lowering electricity costs, giving incentives to economic zones, and building more infrastructures.
Asked if he would go against big businesses, Roxas claimed he had already done so in his stint in government, where he prioritized the public’s welfare over the concerns of businessmen.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she is “vehemently against” contractualization because it puts the employee at the mercy of people who “need only to threaten him” that he would lose his job.
“To put on record, I am vehemntly against contractualization. It is illegal and unconstitutional, and violates security of tenure. It places him (employee) under the power of somebody who needs only to threaten to replace him. I am also lowering income and corporate taxes,” she said.
Santiago vowed to build more infrastructures such as roads, bridges, seaports, and urban transit systems to generate up to a “million” jobs.
In terms of agriculture, Santiago said she would focus on farm-to-market roads, irrigation, pumping and post-harvest facilities.
“Kung gumawa ka ng trabaho, lalapit ang tao sa iyo,” she said. (If you create jobs, people will come to you.)
The veteran senator said she is also for the lowering of both income and corporate taxes to provide a healthy employment environment.
In addressing the issue of contractualization, Senator Grace Poe said she would lower corporate income tax and give incentives to businesses that would take care of their employees.
“Suportahan natin ang magtatayo ng negosyo sa bansa, pero prioridad natin ang mga pinakamahihirap na kababayan. So bawian lang: alagahaan 'nyo sila, di namain kayo iipitin,” Poe said.
(We will support those who will invest in the country, but our priority is our poorest countrymen. It should be reciprocal: you take care of your employees, we won't go after you.)
Poe said people are not machines who could be disposed of when no longer needed. She then vowed to implement the law banning job contractualization.
As a mother, Poe said, she could not imagine experiencing the pains of those having irregular jobs.
“'Yan ay hindi makatarungan. Di mapaplano ang iyong kinabukasan kung di ka nakakasiguro na bukas may trabaho,” Poe said. “Di ko papayagan dahil kailangang produktibo, at magiging produktibo lamang sila kung may malasakit ang company sa kanila at gobyernong pinoprotektahan sila.”
(That is unjust. You can't plan for your future because you're uncertain if you still have a job tomorrow. I won't allow that, because people need to be productive, and they can only be productive if their companies are compassionate toward them, and if government is protecting them.)
Vice President Jejomar Binay shared the same view that contractualization is illegal. He, however, said the problem is the implementation of the law.
"'Yan endo ay bawal na 'yan. Ang masama nga lang, 'di ipinapatupad," Binay said. (Endo is already prohibited. The problem is, the prohibition is not implemented.)
Binay also vowed to scrap income taxes, saying this would be very helpful for those with low salary so they can take home their full salary. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com