DOLE may wish to train their labor inspectors well
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - September 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Are inspections designed to destroy businesses? The business community is confused. Is it the purpose of DOLE to “terrorize” and drive away investors? I don't think so. I’m in constant touch with DOLE head office. But are the many new DOLE inspectors properly oriented, trained, and empowered with proper knowledge to do their job without antagonizing employers, HR managers, and business owners? I don’t believe so.

There are many serious feedbacks from the business community. And I'm going to email and text our friend, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III. He needs to know what’s happening on the ground so that during the DOLE regular policy-making conferences, he can tell the regional directors, as well as his many undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, bureau directors, and service chiefs. If you have your own comments, feel free to send them to me and I will make sure Bello will be properly informed. I have advised my friends not to file cases before the Ombudsman and Civil Service Commission immediately. They better call first the regional directors and tell them what and how the inspectors execute their inspections.

Many small- and medium-scale enterprises have closed. And those with foreign partners transferred their operations to Thailand, Vietnam and more hospitable Malaysia and Singapore. Some inspectors, mostly new recruits, have been reportedly reckless and imprudent in writing down outrageous accusations of so-called “violations”. They speak “ex-cathedra” and behave as if they are the accuser, prosecutor, judge, and executioner all rolled into one. The impression they give is that they consider the business community as the enemies of government instead of treating businessmen as social and economic partners who create jobs for our labor-excess economy.

First of all, neophyte inspectors, who are mostly eager beavers rushing to impress their superiors, usually come into the factories reportedly with arrogance, self-righteousness, and with strong bias and prejudice against employers. They don’t even have enough grounding on the procedures of properly implementing the delegated authority under Article 128 of the Labor Code in relation to DOLE Order no 183. Second, they don’t distinguish between routine inspection and complaint inspection. They don’t distinguish inspection for general labor standards under Book Three, from inspection for occupational safety and health under Book Four of the Labor Code. They blindly include security of tenure which falls under Book Six of the Labor Code and mix them with inspections under Book Three.

Third, these inspectors lacking training in safety and health, who aren’t engineers or technical men, arrogate unto themselves the pretended competence to assess mechanical, electrical, structural, and environmental matters and nuances in workplaces. Fourth, they haven’t even mastered the Labor Code, especially the meaning of Articles 106 to 109 on the substance and processes of legitimate service and job contracting. If you give them an exam on DOLE DO no 174, or its predecessor DO 18-A, I’m sure their unpreparedness will be revealed. They don’t know the law and the jurisprudence on control or the difference between the conjunction “and” and “or”. They haven’t mastered the dictum expressed by the Supreme Court in the Neri case of the 1990s and the Sunpower case in January 2018.

Therefore, with all due respect, as a former DOLE Undersecretary, former labor arbiter and former labor attaché, and also a former inspector myself. I question the manner of executing the inspection activities. DOLE should withdraw from the field insufficiently-trained, ill-equipped, and unprepared inspectors. If they want their tasks done with excellence, they should train their people for at least one year. They shouldn’t send to the battlefield ragtag inspectors who create more harm than good.

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