By Gillian M. Cortez, September 25 2018; Business World


Image Credit to BWorldOnline

MALACAÑANG has asked that Senate Bill 1826 or the Security of Tenure (SoT) Bill be certified as urgent, following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s commitment to abolish “endo,” an employment practice that denies workers a path to permanent status.

In a palace document dated Sept. 21, Mr. Duterte asked Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III to “certify the necessity of the immediate enactment” of the SOT Bill.

Malacañang added that the bill needs to pass to “strengthen workers’ security of tenure by prohibiting the prevalent practice of contractualization and labor-only contracting which continue to immerse our workers in a quagmire of poverty and underemployment.”

Mr. Sotto said in an interview with reporters that the chamber will push for the bill’s passage before Congress adjourns on Oct. 12.

“We’ll do our best to pass it by Oct. 11,” he said.

Sen. Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, who chairs the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, added: “We certainly need a law that will not only uphold our workers’ basic labor rights and restore dignity of work, but also a law that will promote quality employment without jeopardizing business operations but rather create more stable jobs for every Filipino.”

The Senator, who is also the author and principal sponsor of the bill, added that the SoT bill will address the interests of both the labor and business sectors.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello expressed the hope that the law will pass and be implemented promptly.

At a briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Bello said he has a personal timetable of October passage for the bill allowing it to be signed into law by December.

Labor Undersecretary Joel B. Maglunsod said in a chance interview on Tuesday that the move to certify the bill is “(a step forward).”

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (NAGKAISA) Chairperson Jose Sonny G. Matula said the process of certification brings the sector closer to the goal of ending contractualization.

“It’s closer than it has ever been but we still have some work to do,” Mr. Matula, who is also the President of the Federation of Free Workers, said in a statement on Tuesday.

He added, “After more than two years, the Duterte administration has finally made a big step towards the fulfillment of a campaign promise.”

Associated Labor Unions — Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) National Executive Vice-President Gerard R. Seno said in a press release, “The moment the SOT bill is enacted into law, there is now a chance for contractual workers to be included in the country’s growing economic growth.”

For his part, Employers Confederation of the Philippines Acting President Sergio R. Luis-Ortiz, Jr. stressed that the passage of this bill could effectively reduce the labor force, adding that employers will be deterred from hiring workers especially for high-demand periods like Christmas.

He added that eliminating contractualization will also put off current and potential foreign investments from the country.

“Many foreign investors are turned off (by the measure),” he said in a phone interview with BusinessWorld on Tuesday.

“You cannot (remove contractualization); we’ll be the only one in the world to do that,” he added, noting that the contracting of services not directly affecting the company’s business is a common global business practice. — Gillian M. Cortez