After repeatedly promising to put a stop to labor-only contracting and putting pressure on Congress to approve such a measure, President Rodrigo Duterte sat on the proposed Security of Tenure Act and vetoed it just a day before it was to lapse into a law.
The reason was the “sweeping expansion of the definition of labor-only contracting” which included contractual arrangements that are “not particularly unfavorable” to the workers. He did not specify.
The move angered some senators and disappointed the workers. The business community, on the other hand, welcomed it.
Senator Joel Villanueva, who chaired the labor committee in the 17th Congress and authored the measure, said “profit wins again.”
“As government leaders, we are expected to rise above politics, to favor the powerless, and do what is just. But most of the time, power wins,” he said. He vowed to re-file and continue pushing for the bill until endo, or end of contract scheme, is eradicated.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto said the executive should just write its own version and send it to Congress with a presidential certification of its urgency.
“Let the burden of proposition fall on them this time. But this will be for the information of Congress only, and should not mean that it must be the one passed en toto,” he said in a statement on July 27, a day after the President vetoed the measure on July 26, 2019. The measure would have lapsed into law on July 27.
An option is for Malacañang to convene a tripartite summit with business, labor and the government in a frank exchange of views, Recto said.
He said the disapproval of the bill highlighted the need to strengthen liaison work between the executive and legislative branches of government.
“I sympathize with Joel (Villanueva) who had worked hard on this bill. Hindi pwedeng kung kailan tapos na ang boxing, doon pa lang mag-iingay ang ibang taga-Executive. Hindi pwede yung laban-bawi. This was not an easy bill to write. Joel made sure that it was a balanced one. It was a tightrope act under stormy conditions,” he added.
The proposed law, also known as anti-endo bill, defines labor-only contracting as a scheme wherein "the job contractor, whether licensed or not, who merely recruits and supplies or places workers to a contractee, has no 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 contractee or are under the direct control and supervision of the contractee."
Such definition "destroys the delicate balance and will place capital and management at an impossibly difficult predicament with adverse consequences to the Filipino workers in the long term," Duterte stated in his veto letter to Congress.
He said he was committed to protect the workers' right to security of tenure by eradicating all forms of abusive employment practices, but would also like to allow businesses to engage in practices that are beneficial to both management and workers.
"While the bill mostly codifies into law existing rules, regulations, orders, and jurisprudence on matters of labor-only contracting and security of tenure, it likewise unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting, effectively proscribing forms of contractualization that are not particularly unfavorable to the employees involved," he added.
He said "legitimate job-contracting should be allowed, provided that the contractor is well capitalized, has sufficient investments, and affords its employees all the benefits provided for under the labor laws."
"Businesses should be allowed to determine whether they should outsource certain activities or not, especially when job-contracting will result in economy and efficiency in their operations, with no detriment to the workers, regardless of whether this is directly related to their business," he stated. (Ventures Cebu)