Duterte rejects security of tenure bill
President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed the security of tenure bill to maintain a "healthy balance" between the conflicting interests of labor and management.
Malacanang, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, transmitted Duterte's veto message to the leadership of Senate and the House of Representatives on Friday, July 26.
"We respectfully transmit herewith the Veto Message of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, on consolidated enrolled Senate Bill No. 1826/ House Bill No. 6908," said Medialdea, in his letter addressed to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Senate President Vicente Sotto.
"Indeed, while labor-only contracting must be prohibited, legitimate job-contracting should be allowed, provided that the contractor is well capitalized, has sufficient investments, and affords its employees all the benefits provided for under the labor laws," Duterte said in his veto message.
He said that businesses should be allowed to determine whether they should outsource certain activities or not, "especially when job-contracting will result in economy and efficiency in their operations, with no detriment to the workers, regardless of whether this is directly related to their business."
"This is especially critical since empirical data shows that the Philippines is currently at a disadvantage already in terms of cost and flexibility of labor use compared to its peers in the region," he said.
Citing Supreme Court decisions, Duterte said while the Constitution provides the need for the State to protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare, "such constitutional policy is not intended to oppress or destroy capital and management, and a healthy balance between the conflicting interests of labor and management must be observed."
"I believe the sweeping expansion of the definition of labor-only contracting destroys the delicate balance and will place capital and management at an impossibly difficult predicament with adverse consequences to the Filipino workers in the long term," Duterte said.
One of Duterte's promises when he assumed office was to eliminate all forms of labor-only contracting.
Duterte, in his veto message, reiterated that he stood by his firm commitment to protect workers' right to security of tenure by eradicating all forms of abusive employment practices.
But Duterte also justified his goal has always been to target the abuse, while "leaving businesses free" to engage in those practices beneficial to management and the workforce.
"While the bill mostly codifies into law existing rules, regulations, orders, and jurisprudence on matters of labor-only contracting and security of tenure, it likewise unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting, effectively proscribing forms of contractualization that are not particularly unfavorable to the employees involved," he added.
Duterte's decision to veto the enrolled bill, which called for strengthening workers right to security of tenure, drew negative reactions from some lawmakers, including labor groups.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, in particular, said that the veto on the proposed measure was "tragic."
It said Duterte chose to listen to the "scaremongering of the foreign chambers of commerce and his economic managers" rather than address the "decades old abuses" against the Filipino workers.
“The TUCP and its membership were ardent supporters of the promise to stop endo but sadly, even the slightest glimmer of hope for a chance to be regular, not even an inch forward, cannot be expected without approval from the foreign chambers of commerce, economic managers, and the companies that were found by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as engaged in labor-only contracting,” said TUCP president and Rep. Raymond Mendoza. Celerina Monte/DMS