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Duterte turns gun-shy on contractualization.

Known for his independent foreign policy, President Duterte is apparently now giving premium to what foreign investors will say on the issue of labor contractualization.

The firebrand President again decided to delay the issuance of the much-awaited executive order (EO) that will finally clarify his administration's position on

contractualization, reportedly due to the need to study further its impact on foreign investments.

Duterte decided to postpone signing the EO, which would have further restricted contractualization, during his two-hour meeting with labor groups in Malacanang on Wednesday.

'He told us he was still open to our proposal, saying it was consistent with the parameters of what he committed to us about contractualization during our Labor Day meeting last year,' ALU-TUCP National Vice President for National and International Affairs Louie Corral told the BusinessMirror in a phone interview.

'But he added he would still have to study it in detail since he would still need to convince potential foreign investors about the said reform,' Corral added.

In May last year, the labor group submitted to the Office of the President a draft EO that will prohibit all forms of contractual arrangement. The scrapping of contractualization was one of the campaign promises of Duterte.

According to Tanjusay and Labor Undersecretary Joel B. Maglunsod, the draft EO was requested by Duterte during his Labor Day meeting with labor leaders in Davao City.

Under the proposed EO, regular employment will become the norm, while contractualization will only be allowed for some professions to be decided by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its advisory council, the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC).

Corral said they understood the position of the President, especially since he is being pressured by his economic advisers.

'We understand our demands will not be given to us on a silver platter, but we remain optimistic after we saw that he did not change his position on contractualization,' he said.

Corral added they were still willing to give the President the chance to fulfill his commitment on contractualization. 'He said he will act on it within the year.'

Corral was among the labor representatives from the labor coalition Nagkaisa and the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), who met with President Duterte on Wednesday.

Aside from the EO, Corral said the meeting also focused on other matters, such as wage increase, subsidy for the labor sector, bringing down electricity cost and boosting the participation of the labor sector in the government's policy-making.

Corral said the President committed to hold a meeting with labor groups, together with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, during the second week of March to further discuss the said issues.

While the EO remains unsigned by the President, Corral said they will continue to push for the passage of House Bill (HB) 6908 on the Security of Tenure (SOT) in the Senate to further restrict contractualization in the country.

HB 6908 bans the practice of subcontracting of jobs and fixed-term employment, as well as fines labor contractors, which will violate its provisions.

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) Vice President Julius Cainglet said they will continue to hold more demonstrations until the meeting next month to pressure the President to finally sign the EO.

'He said he would have his legal team review the EO, so there is a chance it could still be changed,' Cainglet said.

Maglunsod said a revision is now unlikely after Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III already gave his approval to the said version of the EO. 'If employers would still want it to be revised, they would now have to go to Malacanang.'

Businessmen and other stakeholders are still awaiting the final policy of the Duterte administration on contractualization. Earlier, Employers Confederation of the Philippines President Donald Dee told the BusinessMirror that investors have been put on a wait-and-see mode because of this.

'One of the problems why our [level of] investments is low compared to other countries is precisely because our policies are inconsistent. Our policies keep on changing. Investors don't have an assurance. The commitment they were given [by the government] when they entered the country was not the same after a few years,' Dee said.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 7, 2018
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