SENATORS on Friday, July 26, expressed dismay over President Rodrigo Duterte's veto of the Security of Tenure Bill, which is supposed to put an end to the end-of-contract (endo) scheme and all forms of unlawful labor-only contracting.
Senator Joel Villanueva, principal author of the Senate bill, lamented that the influential sector and those in power still prevailed.
"Bilang mga pinuno ng pamahalaan, inaasahan po tayong manindigan para sa mga inaapi at gawin ang nararapat para maging patas ang lipunan. Ngunit ang katotohanan, minsan ay mas matimbang ang mga makapangyarihan at naghaharing-uri. Ang pagka veto ng ENDO ay isa sa mga manipistasyon ng mga ganitong pagkakataon.
(As government leaders, we are expected to represent the weak and do what is right for an equitable society. But the truth is those in power sometimes prevail as shown by the veto of the end endo bill.)
Villanueva, who was the chairman of the Senate committee on labor, said he and his colleagues in Congress had worked hard to ensure that each provision of the approved bill would protect the workers and at the same time would not put the business sector at a disadvantage.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he was "bewildered" by the veto.
"It makes no sense to me why Malacañang would declare it a priority measure then just to veto it after its approval. They put pressure pa on us on why we haven’t acted on it after the House of Representatives passed it and the Palace came out with the certification that it was a priority measure and the Senate was sitting on it," he said in a Facebook post.
"I'm totally bewildered on this new development. Does that mean that a certification from the Palace no longer means that it is a priority? That its passage is no longer needed? I hope this can be clarified as this would put the other so called 'Priority Measures' in question, he added.
Zubiri urged the Cabinet to get its act together "as it would make us Legislators look stupid and embarrass the President as well as he mentions these measures during the Sona."
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, for his part, said the veto put them "back to square one".
"We regret it. The bill was certified as urgent by the President and thus, in the 17th Congress, the Senate worked hard to pass a balanced bill that would protect the welfare of the workers while maintaining the stability of businesses," he said in a statement.
"Our workers have waited for two decades to finally have legislation that would prohibit illegal company practices of contractualization and provide them with security of tenure. They came into 2016 with very high hopes that the practice would be prohibited. Now, we are back to square one," Drilon stated.
Villanueva said the veto will not deter him.
"Patuloy po tayong makikibaka hangga't may manggagawang naaabuso, hangga't mayroong manggagawa na walang kasiguruhan sa trabaho (We will continue to fight against abuses as long as there are workers who do not have security of tenure)," he said.
The Pamantik-KMU, meanwhile, condemned Duterte's "180-degree turn from his campaign promises".
"The strikes of contractual workers in NutriAsia Cabuyao, Pepmaco in Calamba, and Zagu raise the red flag of disgruntled labor that say 'no more' to Duterte's tomfoolery and treachery of the Filipino people. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)