Marcos Jr. says may consider prioritizing Security of Tenure bill if elected president

Marcos Jr. says may consider prioritizing Security of Tenure bill if elected president
In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo, protesters call for the end of contractualization outside the Department of Labor and Employment building.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — After securing the backing of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said Wednesday that he is open to prioritizing the proposed “Security of Tenure Act."

In a statement, his campaign team said Marcos “expressed interest in making into a priority bill the Security of Tenure Act.” The presidential candidate, however, explained that they will first have to study the proposed legislation.

“How to amend this that would really give protection to our workers to enact this law. We need to fix this because our countrymen are forced to work overseas due to low [wages] and poor labor conditions in the country,” Marcos said in Filipino.

The practice of labor contractualization started in the country when the Marcos patriarch signed the Philippine Labor Code in 1974 in a bid to address an elevated jobless rate amid a shaky economy at the time.

As it is, the son and namesake of the late dictator was not the first presidential aspirant to make a populist promise of ending labor-only contracting or the so-called “endo,” a Filipino-coined term for “end of contract.” Endo is a labor practice where a worker is hired for up to five months to skirt a labor law granting permanent tenure on the sixth month of service. The practice leaves many Filipino workers unprotected and without benefits.

In 2016, then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte vowed to prohibit endo, only to veto a proposed legislation on this matter in 2019. In a letter to Congress explaining his decision, Duterte said the proposed measure "unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting."

Marcos’ Endo stand

Marcos said he met with officials of labor-focused party-list groups, the TUCP and the Associated Labor Unions to discuss workers’ issues. Earlier this week, the TUCP, which has claimed membership of 1.2 million members, said their members chose to back Marcos and his running-mate Sara Duterte in the 2022 polls.

On Wednesday, Marcos said agencies in the labor sector should be streamlined so that  an agency focused solely on local workers and another will serve overseas workers

“I will have to put the layout in detail because the issue has become so involved. There is a lot to fix, structurally there is a lot to fix. Agencies should be streamlined. Because there are many (offices), our workers are confused about who to seek,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.

In a previous interview with the DZRH, Marcos said “big corporations” engage in Endo, so workers will not be given benefits before they become permanent.

“Kung kausapin natin, kaibigan naman natin sila. Sabihin namin para maging patas naman na gawing permanent ang mga iba at ibahin ang system na walang na hindi basta nawawalan ng trabaho, walang karapatan, walang benepisyo, walang health care,” he added.

(If we talk to them, they are our friends anyway. We tell them, to be fair, some should be made permanent (workers) and the system should be changed that anyone would not be out of job that easily, no rights, no benefits, no health care.)

Marcos said the system should be changed and he surmises “big corporations” will understand them because they are “friends.” He continued: “It’s only fair that we understand the situation of our workers.” — Kristine Joy Patag

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