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Ipasa na! Duterte certifies ‘Endo bill’ as urgent

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By Xave Gregorio

President Rodrigo Duterte has certified the Security of Tenure Bill, which seeks to end contractualization or “endo.”

In a September 21 letter to Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III sent to media by Senate labor committee chair Joel Villanueva’s office, Duterte certified the “immediate enactment of Senate Bill No. 1826.”

A bill certified as urgent can be passed on second and third reading on the same day as it allows Congress to bypass the requirement of giving its members at least three days to study the measure after it is passed on second reading.

“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,” Villanueva said Tuesday (September 25) in a statement.

SB 1826 seeks to amend the Labor Code to:

Prohibit labor-only contracting and provide a P5 million fine and suspension or permanent closure for businesses violating the law

Limit contracting to licensed and specialized services

Classify workers into regular and probationary employees, and treat project and seasonal employees as regular employees

Provide security of tenure

Clarify standards on probationary employment

Provide a Transition Support Program for employees when they are unemployed or transitioning between jobs

“Senate Bill 1826 is clear enough to meet the interests of the labor sector and the interests of the business sector,” Villanueva said, adding that the measure is “pro-labor, pro-business, and pro-Filipino.”

The Labor Code currently allows the Labor Secretary to define and prohibit or restrict labor-only contracting, however, absent such definitions, companies get away with hiring workers on a contractual basis.

In a Senate hearing last month, representatives from PLDT and NutriAsia, hit by their workers for practicing contractualization, they are allowed to outsource jobs if these are not part of their core functions.

“Core functions,” for PLDT human resources head Menardo Jimenez Jr., are “unclear.”

“If the law becomes clear and defines what is core is and non-core is, we will definitely abide by that,” Jimenez said at the August 9 Senate labor committee hearing.

Under SB 1826, labor-only contracting happens when:

Licensed and unlicensed job contractors recruit or place workers to a contractee, regardless if there is substantial capital

Workers of the job contractor perform activities directly related to the primary business of the employer

Workers of the job contractor are under the control and supervision of the contractee

SB 1826 has been pending second reading in the Senate since August, while a counterpart bill has passed in the House in January.

On Labor Day, Duterte vowed that he would certify the measure seeking an end to endo, which affects around 1.9 million workers in the private sector, as he acknowledged that his executive order against it would not suffice.

Duterte’s Executive Order No. 51 sought to end endo, but did not contain a provision prohibiting all forms of contracting and makes direct hiring the only mode of hiring.