Duterte to consider NEDA misgivings on tenure bill

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte to consider NEDA misgivings on tenure bill
The proposed bill, which aims to strengthen workers’ rights by clarifying the existing ban on labor only contracting, will lapse into law tomorrow if Duterte does not act on it.

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte may veto the Security of Tenure (SOT) bill if he finds merit in the views of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, who had cited the need to tweak the measure to make it fair to businesses and workers, Malacañang said yesterday. 

The proposed bill, which aims to strengthen workers’ rights by clarifying the existing ban on labor only contracting, will lapse into law tomorrow if Duterte does not act on it. 

While labor groups are pushing for the measure, business groups have asked the President to veto it, saying it goes against the employers’ right to contract labor as part of management prerogative.

Business groups have also warned that the bill may prod employers to remove low-skilled work through automation and artificial intelligence. 

On Wednesday, Pernia said the SOT bill should be tweaked to ensure that it would benefit both the business and labor sectors. He noted that the measure would not be good for workers if it deters investments and results in fewer job opportunities.

“If the President feels that the observation of Secretary Pernia is a good reason to veto the bill, he (would),” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

“After all, if you veto the bill, members of Congress can always introduce amendments or pass another bill for the signature of the President – so it depends,” he added. 

Panelo said it’s the President’s call whether to heed the suggestion of Pernia.

The SOT bill was passed by the previous Congress. The measure has to be refiled in the 18th Congress in order for it to be amended. 

Asked how Duterte would balance the interest of the workers and employers, Panelo replied, “You have to find a win-win solution. You can find a compromise.”

“What I’m saying is that the President is always open to suggestion. He rationalizes. If he feels that signing the law will not benefit the major players, he might consider vetoing it. But if he doesn’t feel that way, he will sign it,” he said.

Duterte previously said he listens to his Cabinet members on economic issues. There was an instance, however, when the President signed a law despite the reservations of his economic team. 

Duterte signed the law providing free education in state colleges and universities despite the claim of his economic managers that the measure would have a serious impact on the government’s budget.

The President certified the SOT bill as urgent last September. 

Labor groups led by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and Federation of Free Workers called on Duterte to join workers in pushing for stronger provisions of the measure.

They said the only strong provision of the measure is the higher penalty from P1,000 to P5 million imposed on violators of the prohibition against labor only contracting.

Trade unions opposed the position of employers and the foreign chambers of commerce that the existing laws and rules are enough to address illegal contractualization.

They said millions of workers continue to wallow in the abusive scheme of contractualization and the proposed bill would not be enough to stop such illegal employment policy.        –  With Mayen Jaymalin

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