President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer sign an executive order (EO) on contractualization, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced on Thursday.
Bello said in a press briefing at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that the President will instead certify as a priority bill a pending bill in the Senate on the security of tenure.
He said the three drafts of the EO made it to the Office of the President and were studied by the Office of the Executive Secretary.
The EO and the Senate bill, he said, are reinforcements of DOLE Department Order 174, which he said can address the issue of unlawful contractualization "if there is an effective and honest-to-goodness implementation" of the order.
Endo remains prohibited
"One version—it says they must be recognized as regular employees of the hiring company, and the other one says they should be recognized as regular employees of the service contractor," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a news conference in Malacañang, referring to the drafts of the EO received by the President.
"In any case what's important is: This is not the endo the President promised to end because 'yung 555 is not provided in the EO. 555 is not legitimized by the EO. It remains prohibited," he said.
Roque also said the President "goes by the decision" of his Cabinet members when it comes to running the affairs of their respective departments.
"You know that. He was very clear on Boracay issue. He promised he will implement the recommendation of his Cabinet members. He did so," Roque said.
The Palace official added he will check if a certification of the Senate bill as urgent "will come out very soon."
"The position of Secretary Bello now is it is better to leave the matter of endo to Congress. And I've also been informed by the Department of Trade and Industry that actually the President has already complied with his election promise to do away with 555 endo," Roque said, stressing that DOLE has increased its number of labor inspectors from 200 to 500 tasked to do a crackdown on those resorting to endo.
Duterte was supposed to meet with labor groups on Monday regarding the proposed EO but it did not push through.
'Dramatic issuance' on May 1
In spite of this, Bello said workers should watch out for Duterte's speech on Labor Day for a possible "dramatic issuance."
"Your guess is as good as mine," Bello said. "We should expect something from the President."
He then reassured labor groups that DOLE is not holding back on its enforcement of rules on contractualization.
"Hindi po kami nag-aalanganin pagdating sa enforcement," Bello said.
Several labor groups threatened to hold nationwide protests on May 1 in case the EO does not get signed.
Job fairs will be held across the country on May 1. The main location for the festivities will be in Cebu, where Duterte is expected to make his annual Labor Day speech.
Major packages and benefits from government agencies for the formal, informal, overseas, and other sectors will be announced during the speech. —With a report from Virgil Lopez/KG, GMA News