IN THE 2016 campaign, ending ENDO was one of Duterte's core campaign promises. That made him the top presidential choice of various workers groups.
In his first three years, ending ENDO however turned from a promise into rhetoric, and often flip-flopping on the workers demands.
Last week, the rhetoric turned into a deplorable stand when Duterte finally "take the bull by its horn" by vetoing the Security of Tenure bill.
It was a display of firm and clear standpoint, but at the same time, as an omnibus warning against succeeding and future attempts from any labor group and their sympathizers to push similar bill.
Yet his rhetoric on ending Endo and other labor concerns continues.
He wants a more "balance position" on Endo or contractualization or labor only contracting (LOC), but allowing big businesses to continue employing ENDO is a no "balance position," it is vowing to their pressure and tolerating their rapacity.
He wants a more "balance position" but he also means that a secured tenure is not always the answer, or necessary. The crux of it, he wants a flexible definition of security of tenure and allow big businesses to practice them with some caution, whatever it means, so long as the government gets its taxes, the top bureaucrats pocket grease money, and the economy grows.
In fact, his anti-worker rhetoric extends to other aspects of labor conditions.
He wants to raise the salaries and expand the benefits of the workers, but he did not say he wants to stop the ravenous big businesses in raking superprofits from squeezing to their bones the docile, cheap and unprotected labor of Filipino workers.
He wants to improve the welfare and well-being of the Filipino workers, but he did not mean that they be allowed to seize even a fraction of the superprofit of their employers and undermine the state of life of the big businesses in this country.
He wants the rights of workers respected and upheld, but also encourage the police and private scabs to break up with brutality the picket lines and strikes, arrest and kill workers leaders.
Duterte has unmasked himself once more, of where he stand and who he wants to protect.
The big businesses, including those in Negros and Panay represented by local chapters of employers' confederation and chamber of commerce, must be gloating over Duterte's vetoing of Endo.
They must be emboldened now to do whatever they want with their workers and employees without fear of the law which has taken the wrong side.
Despite the new difficulties, I am certain that the workers are not taking this passively. This national treachery and assault must have likewise emboldened them to work harder to end Endo, alongside their struggles for higher wages, benefits, union rights, in the sugar farms, mills, factories, energy and water plants, transportation and communication firms, commercial establishments, schools, and even in the government sector.
A friend has reminded me that the working class movement in this country, and in this region, have historic and colorful records of struggles that brought them great victories in winning their demands and reclaiming their dignity, and still able to advance despite numerous defeats and setbacks.
True enough. The workers may be fooled once, twice, thrice, but not all the time. They have a deep bench of leaders even for another generation's fight.