Economic stability, not law, assures job security
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - August 1, 2019 - 12:00am

It was the late iconic Blas F. Ople, the greatest DOLE secretary that the Philippines ever had, who said that unemployment is the greatest oppressor of labor, and the greatest exploiter of the working class. It was also that world-famous doyen in labor administration, who said that the Labor Code cannot guarantee job security if and when the economy is going down.

The biggest insurer for job security is a stable, vibrant and progressive economy, when investments come into the country because Congress has laid down a fair, just and equitable legal framework for labor-management relations, where labor rights are respected and upheld, but without oppressing nor destroying the businessmen.

I was an ardent and avid disciple of Secretary Ople and I do believe in his tenets and core principles. No matter how many “Security of Tenure Laws” are passed by Congress, if and when businesses lose their competitiveness and viability, and when companies decide to close their operations and stop their businesses, and when investors withdraw and transfer their investments elsewhere, there will be no security of tenure.

That is why we do believe that it was a right move on the part of President Rodrigo Duterte to have vetoed the so-called “Security of Tenure Law.” That enrolled bill could only drive away investors, “kill” the existing small and medium enterprises, and thus exacerbate the unemployment problem in the country.

It is easy for the senators and congressmen, like Senator Joel Villanueva, who, with due respect, has never managed a business to legislate a populist law that will make him look “handsome” to the voters, but did he consider the far-reaching consequences of disabling management and depriving employers their flexibility in the midst of harsh competitions and global and regional pressures on cost of manufacturing and cost of selling and distributing in a globalized economy? The party-list congressmen who are pushing for such a law have not seriously considered the other side of the equation, much less the larger interests and common good for the whole nation.

In the ultimate analysis, the President is responsible for the whole country, both the labor sectors and the businessmen, both the taxpayers and the tax beneficiaries. The President needs to balance out all conflicting interests and consider the big picture, as well as the long-range implications of labor and economic policies.

The President is not a myopic trapo who only looks at the next elections but opts to remain oblivious of the hard consequences of laws that are hurriedly done and ill-formulated only to please one sector. The senators and congressmen should start becoming true statesmen and learn to govern and not just to court voters.

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