The government must walk the talk

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

With all due respect to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, while we do respect their fight against the oppressive, exploitative and unjust practices of "endo" and the so-called "5-5-5," we hasten to respectfully remind the government, and we mean the entire bureaucracy that the number one perpetrator of endo is no other than the government itself. Its practice of hiring the so-called "job order" workers is worse than hiring casuals and contractuals. Of course, President Duterte is not the inventor of this scheme. He inherited this. But that does not mean that it is right.

The job order workers do not have security of tenure. They do not have social benefits. They are not covered by GSIS or by SSS. If they meet an accident and contact disease in the course of employment, they do not have coverage by the State Insurance Fund. Neither the SSS nor the Employees Compensation Commission covers them. They do not have PhilHealth or Pag-ibig. They do not exist in the eyes of the law because the paper that authorizes their engagement explicitly and unabashedly declares that there is no employer-employee relationship between them and the government. This is plain hypocrisy. They assign to these workers some dirty, difficult, dangerous, and degrading jobs.

In this sense, the contractual workers in the private sectors are better off than the job order workers in government. These contractuals have SSS, Employees Compensation coverage, PhilHealth, Pagibig. They enjoy service incentive leave and thirteenth month pay. They are paid overtime pay, holiday pay, rest day pay, and all benefits. If they are solo parents, they have seven days more to have leave with pay. If they are victims of violence against women, they have ten days more leave. If they undergo ovariectomy, mastectomy, or hysterectomy, they shall be granted sixty days with full pay.

The job order workers in government do not receive any overtime pay or holiday pay. They cannot even take maternity leave or paternity leave, much less solo parents leave or violence against women and children leave. If they die in line of service, their dependents and heirs receive nothing. If they get sick, they have no medical care. If they are injured, they do not enjoy disability compensation. And so, what is the moral authority of government in twisting the arms of the private sector on contractualization, when it is precisely doing what is strictly prohibits?

Given all these, is it not the better option for government to put its own house in order first before making it difficult for business to survive in a very competitive environment. Our economy is being inundated by cheap products from China. If we take away the flexibility from Philippine business, then we are virtually killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The government must lead by example. It is not right to burn the whole house if only one furniture is being infested with termites. If there are contractors who violate the law then jail them.

But please do not abolish the contracting industry. It employs about eight million unskilled and semi-skilled Filipinos. If government wants to clean up, then it should begin in its own organization.


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