Duterte to Congress: Protect workers' rights

MANILA. President Rodrigo Duterte. (AP)

AS VARIOUS labor groups across the country unite to push for a national daily minimum wage of P750 on Wednesday, May 1, President Rodrigo Duterte renewed his call on Congress to approve a legislative measure that would protect the workers' rights.

The President lamented that the plight of the Filipino worker "remains the same," despite his administration's efforts to implement measures meant to "afford full protection to labor and promote equal work opportunities for all."

"I join all Filipino workers here and abroad as we mark Labor Day. Our nation's strength has always depended on the hard work, grit and perseverance of our labor force," Duterte said in a message on Labor Day, May 1.

"It is unfortunate, however, that despite this yearly observance, the plight of our workers, especially those who choose to leave their families so they may earn better compensation abroad, remains the same. This is why my administration has implemented measures within its powers to afford full protection to labor and promote equal work opportunities for all," he added.

Duterte said May 1 is the day the nation celebrates the labor force's "valuable contributions not only in the struggle to provide a better life for our people, but in building the foundations of a more promising future for succeeding generations of Filipinos."

As part of his administration's efforts to give a better life for Filipino workers, Duterte noted that he signed Executive Order (EO) 51 on May 1, 2018, prohibiting "illegal" contracting and subcontracting arrangements between employers and their workers.

"Today, we celebrate the working class not as a tool of employers, but as an essential catalyst for our nation's overall progress. I wish everyone a meaningful commemoration," he said.

Under Articles 106 to 109 of Presidential Decree 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines, any companies are allowed to enter into contractual arrangements with their employees.

While he acknowledged that there was already an EO, the President still hopes that Congress would introduce amendments to the Labor Code.

"I remain optimistic that one year since I issued Executive Order No. 51 implementing existing constitutional and statutory provisions against illegal contracting, my counterparts in Congress will consider passing much needed legislative measures that will fully protect our workers' rights, especially to security of tenure and self-organization," the Chief Executive said.

"May this solemn observance inspire all of us to work together in improving the plight of our workers by creating an environment conducive to their personal and professional growth and development," he added.

On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of workers are expected to join rallies nationwide, hoping that the Duterte government would heed their call to mandate a national daily minimum wage of P750 and look for ways to end all forms of contractualization.

In Cebu, labor groups AMA Sugbo, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the Associated Labor Unions (ALU), in an unprecedented move, held a joint program at 8 a.m. in Colon and marched together towards Fuente Osmeña along with other labor groups coming from Plaza Independencia and other parts of Cebu City. (SunStar Philippines)


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