Not in SONA: Federalism, tenure bill
Duterte said he is still studying the security of tenure bill, which has been transmitted to his desk for signature.
Krizjohn Rosales
Not in SONA: Federalism, tenure bill
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — While President Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) lasted for 94 minutes, it was surprisingly silent on two of his campaign promises – the security of tenure bill, which seeks to strengthen workers’ rights, and the shift to a federal form of government.

Duterte said he is still studying the security of tenure bill, which has been transmitted to his desk for signature.

The bill seeks to remove ambiguities in existing laws that have allowed employers to skirt the prohibition against labor only contracting.

“I have to confer with a lot of people affected. You know, it takes two to tango, so it would affect employers and of course it would also greatly favor the workers. It’s a Catch-22 for me,” the President said at a press briefing after his fourth SONA.

Asked if he would veto some provisions of the bill, Duterte did not give a categorical answer.

“Maybe it could go both... Yeah. I can veto it or I can sign it or allow it to lapse into law,” he said.

Under the bill, labor only contracting exists when the job contractor only supplies, recruits and places workers to a contractee, workers supplied to a contractee perform tasks listed by the industry to be directly related to the contractee’s core business and the contractee has direct control and supervision of the workers supplied by the contractor.

Business groups have urged Duterte to veto the measure, saying it would go against the businesses’ constitutional right to contract labor as part of management prerogative.

With regard to federalism, Duterte said the SONA is not the proper time to discuss the matter.

“It’s better left in conferences that are not allowed to be open to the public,” the President said.

“Magulo eh (It would be chaotic). One provision draws a lot of complaints. A lot of pros and cons. You will get dizzy. So better, you just talk about it among yourselves and present it to the public once there is a package, it has been completed,” he added.

Pressed if he is still pushing for federalism, Duterte replied: “Yes, but I said there are things which I cannot mention now. Federalism is good but there are certain things that you have to be very clear.”

Duterte noted that federalism devolves a lot of authority to local governments. He said the federal system has to have a strong president to put together the country.

“With regard to federal, it’s a very loose structure. One has a lot of power locally. So the president will have to have to (devise) it until such time that we have perfected it, there has to be a strong president with the same powers now,” he said.

“As for me, I’m out of it because I think that it will pass beyond my time.” 

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