By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA – On the eve of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said Filipino workers are still living in a “Republic of Endo” or country of contractual workers well into the Duterte Administration and days before “anti-endo” or security of tenure bill’s lapsing into law on July 27.

“After three years of Duterte, we are a still a Republic of Endo,” PM said in a statement, with chair Rene Magtubo saying Duterte is yet to sign the anti-endo (end of contract) Bill because of “strong lobby of employers for a veto.”

“Should Duterte surrender to the demand to veto the Bill, then he reveals where he stands on the class war between the workers and capitalists on contractualization,” he said, noting a veto will just be “another betrayal of his promise to workers.”

In a report by GMA News, however, Magtubo claimed the security of tenure bill is “redundant” as endo ended with Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Order 173 and Executive Order 51, which he noted contain numerous loopholes allowing contractualization.

“The security of tenure bill will not end endo and will not stop contractualization because it is a weak version of the proposed law,” Magtubo said, with the group welcoming DoLE’s announcement it will review the current wage system as part of its calls to abolish the regional wage boards.

“The group is also calling for the provision of a minimum basic income for workers in the SME (small to medium enterprise) sector which is unregulated and exempted from the minimum wage setting,” PM said.

Duterte has not talked about anti-endo bill

In another report by GMA News, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed Duterte “hasn’t talked about the Bill,” that was ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives in May and was forwarded to Malacañang for Duterte’s signature on July 27.

“But you know, the problem with these bills as he explained it, there are so many documents he has to sign. And at the same time, he has so many activities that he has to attend to out of town trips, he visits one place and then another place,” Panelo told reporters.

“Meanwhile, documents pile up kaya kung minsan hindi niya nakikita iyong iba,” Panelo added, noting the President will also consider the opposition of business groups which claimed the Bill is redundant and not good for the economy.

“Of course, the President is always appreciative and considerate on whatever opposition or concerns raised by any sector in this country relative to any bill passed in Congress and subject to his signature or veto,” Panelo said.

A bill neither signed nor vetoed by the President will automatically become law 30 days after it was forwarded by Congress to Malacañang under the Constitution.

The security of tenure bill, on the other hand, seeks to limit job contracting to licensed and specialized services to classify workers into regular and probationary employees, treating project and seasonal employees as regular employees.

The Bill will also make contractors and employers who fail to pay the wages, allowances and benefits of employees jointly liable to the extent of the work performed under the contract.

Employees, meanwhile, will be entitled to immediate reinstatement even pending appeal and without loss of seniority rights and benefits should illegal dismissal happens.

TUCP urges Duterte to prioritize workforce’s appeal

In an interview with GMA News TV on July 21, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) spokesperson Alan Tanjusay urged the President to prioritize the workforce by approving the security of tenure bill and raise the wages of Filipino workers.

“Sa nalalabing tatlong taon ni Pangulong Duterte sa kanyang panunungkulan, ituon niya naman ang kanyang atensyon at enerhiya doon sa kapakanan ng mga mangagawa,” Tanjusay said.

“Nagtaas po ng suweldo ang mga pulis pero ang guro at ordinaryong manggagawa hindi,” Tanjusay added, noting Duterte should announce a specific timeline for his priorities to avoid workers in other industries from sulking.

“Nauubos ang termino ni Pangulong Duterte sa war on drugs pero hindi niya natutupad ang mga pangako niya sa mga manggagawa,” Tanjusay claimed.