Presidential bets vow to end labor contractualization

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/25 April) — All Presidential candidates promised to put a stop to “endo” or labor contractualization in the country if they win.

The candidates spoke before the final Presidential debate on Sunday aired over ABS-CBN.

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the first to answer the question on how the candidates will remove contractualization if they get elected, said he will call on Congress to pass a law to end the practice.

He called it “an injustice against the Filipino people” which “I will not allow as president of the country”.

He said the government is spending a lot of money for those who take up short-term courses in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, but once they are employed the companies would end their contracts after six months to avoid paying bonuses and other benefits.

“At ang mga workers natin, cannot acquire the skills that they learned from TESDA because electrician, maya-maya paalisin siya (he would be terminated in a while), maghahanap siya ng ibang (an employer will look for another) carpenter. And even you go abroad, it says three years experience.

“Our people, the young people cannot ever, ever acquire the experience and the enterprise to really be an electrician,” he added.

Senator Grace Poe said contractualization is unfair “sapagkat hindi mo napa-plano ang iyong kinabukasan kung alam mong bukas hindi ka nakakasigurado kung may trabaho ka pa. (You can’t plan your future if you know that you can’t be sure if you can still have a job the next day).

Poe said people are not machines who can just be thrown away if they’re no longer needed.

She cited a factory worker who asked her why the canned goods they’re processing have an expiry of five years while his job only lasts five months.

She said it’s an injustice to the country.

“So I’m one with you in this. I won’t allow ‘endo’ because our workers must be productive, and they can only be productive if they know the company has concern for them and the government protects them,” she said in Filipino.

Administration bet Mar Roxas said he would end “endo” three months after he sits as President.

Roxas said the loophole is in the law and it can only be addressed by passing a law that can rectify such loophole.

He said that while legislation can end contractualization, it is more important to create more quality jobs in the country.

“Jobs in manufacturing, jobs in call centers, jobs in factories. This is our plan. We will lower the cost of electricity so that supply will increase, and more factories will come in,” he said.

Roxas added he will give more incentives to ecozones to encourage more factories to locate in the country.

Addressing Carlo, a member of the audience who posed the question on contractualization, Vice President Jejomar Binay said “endo” is prohibited but the law is not being enforced.

Binay said the worker must be protected at all times and must receive all benefits provided for by law.

However, he was not categorical on whether or not he will push for the abolition of contractualization.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago gave proposals on how to create more jobs but did not say what she plans to do with contractualization if she wins the presidency.

She said building more infrastructure — roads, bridges, seaports, airports, urban transit systems — will open millions of jobs.

For agriculture, the senator said: “Government must pay attention to, number one, infrastructure, farm-to-market roads, irrigation, water impounding facilities, post-harvest facilities, and so on.”

In the second round on the same issue, Poe said that hand in hand with ending contractualization she will push for lowering corporate income tax to assuage the fear of companies of losing profits.

Responding to host Karen Davila who asked if he would go against big department stores, Roxas said he had confronted the pharmaceutical industry with the Cheaper Medicine Law, as well as the banking and insurance industry.

Binay said he will abolish the income tax for low income earners.

For her part, Defensor-Santiago said: “Not react or challenge any of my opponents, but to put on record what I forgot to say earlier that I am vehemently against contractualization. Not only is it illegal, but possibly unconstitutional. It waylays the security of tenure of an employee and places him under the power of an employer who needs only to threaten to replace him with a union member.”

“I am also in favor of lowering both the income and the corporate taxes,” she added. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)