By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The business community said they were “extremely relieved” with the decision of President Duterte to veto the Security of Tenure bill (SOT) as they vowed to cooperate to really eliminate the illegal “ENDO” or “555” form of job contracting in the country.
The Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) was jubilant over the President’s decision saying the veto has removed a major dampening factor on the country’s employment and investment drive.
“We are very glad that the President realized that having that law will impact on the employment and investment drive. After all, his promise to end ENDO is already accomplished under Executive Order 174 that he signed,” said ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.
Ortiz-Luis explained that what the President wanted to end is the illegal 555 or ENDO (end of 5-month contract), but not all forms of job contracting because that is not in accordance with the international practice and not competitive that would only result in more job losses.
“Having the SOT law would be disadvantaged for workers, not only employees,” he stressed.
ECOP, he said, “will cooperate and see to it that ENDO will really disappear from the Philippines. It is just a question of implementation and we will cooperate that this will happen.”
He said the only reason the organized labor groups are pushing to end all forms of job contracting is because they are running out of members from whom these groups collect month dues.
Of the 44 million labor market, Ortiz-Luis said, not one percent are members of these organized labor groups. Since more than 90 percent of businesses in the country are micro, small and medium, most of the members are not members of these labor groups.
The minimum daily wage in Metro Manila is already at P534.
ECOP Chairman Edgar B. Lacson noted that the “eleventh hour veto is a sign that the palace and the economic managers burned the midnight candle to balance idealism and pragmatism.”
He said that had the bill became a law, it will be a game changer that will “shutter business, cause massive job losses, and a giant leap backward towards economic stagnation.”
“Let is discard generational mistrust and partisan divide between labor and capital and start working for the common good,” Lacson urged.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, also welcomed the news and lauded the President for taking the concerns of the business sector in deciding whether to sign or veto the bill.
“We have said that there are existing measures to protect workers against unscrupulous practices on labor contracting and it is just a matter of implementation,” said PCCI President Alegria “Bing” Limjoco.
PCCI, she said, is open to dialogues with the labor sector and policymakers to come up with a more balanced long-term policy on the issue.
“We are extremely relieved that it was vetoed and was pleased to read the reasoning behind the veto. It was very well worded,” said Ebb Hinchliffe, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, on the President exercising his veto power over the SOT bill.
There are an estimated 300,000 Filipinos employed in American firms operating in the country, but Hinchliffe said it could be more.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said, “We respect and appreciate the decision of the President on the SOT bill. That means we have to work further with Congress in finetuning certain provisions of the bill, such as the need to retain the current flexibility of companies on which function can be contracted to legitimate contractors.”