Labor group to Malacañang: Don't pass fight vs contractualization to Congress

MANILA, Philippines – A labor group expressed disappointment after Malacañang admitted it cannot end contractualization by itself as that would require action from Congress.

In a statement, labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) said President Rodrigo Duterte is being insincere to his campaign promise of ending the end-of-contract or "endo" scheme by employers.

"Ending contractualization is a political promise of the President. It is sad that Malacañang is now expecting that promise to be fulfilled by Congress," Sentro secretary-general Josua Mata said on Tuesday, April 3.

Sentro argued that while a law is needed to prohibit all forms of contractualization, issuing an executive order (EO) would serve as a "stop-gap measure."

Mata pointed out that the Labor Code allows the labor secretary to restrict or prohibit contractual work to protect workers' rights. He also said it gives the President the capacity to end the scheme.

On Monday, April 2, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the total ban on contractualization is "something the government cannot do by an EO," as the Office of the Executive Secretary started studying the draft EO submitted by labor groups.

Guevarra explained that the Labor Code should be amended, a task that would be up to the legislative branch.

Back in February, Duterte had told labor groups to give him until March 15 to sign the EO.

Labor groups first met with the President on February 27, 2017, then on May 1, 2017, and in February this year, but no EO has been finalized yet.

In March 2017, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued Department Order (DO) No. 174, setting stricter guidelines for contractualization. Labor groups, however, said the DO only "legalizes" the end-of-contract scheme.

Last year, DOLE was able to regularize at least 125,000 of the 200,000 contractual workers it planned to put in permanent positions. There are an estimated 1.3 million contractual employees in the country. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.