Women's groups hold protest on International Women's Day

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — Women's groups held protests in Intramuros on Thursday in time for the celebration of International Women's day

Hundreds of people, led by militant women's movement Gabriela, converged in the Walled City to protest issues like contractualization.

Three horse-riding women representing modern day versions of revolutionary leader Gabriela Silang led them to Department of Labor and Employment's office in Intramuros.

They called on the government to issue an executive order (EO) that would totally ban "endo" – a practice where workers are repeatedly hired on five-month contracts that fall short of regularization – in the Philippines.

They said the move would ease the burden for poor Filipinos striving to make ends meet as the country's tax reform law increases the prices of some commodities.

Ending contractualization was one of President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign promises. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in February Duterte is planning to sign an EO banning illegal forms of contractualization by March.

READ: Bello: Duterte promised to sign EO on contractualization by March

In a press release, Gabriela said the rally would mark the start of a week-long countdown until the issuance of an "endo EO" from President Rodrigo Duterte on March 15.

"President Duterte's fulfillment of his election campaign promise to end contractualization is long overdue," Gabriela Metro Manila Chairperson Nora Calubaquib said. "Since the May 2016 polls, we have been waiting for concrete moves of Duterte that will criminalize all forms of contractualization."

Gabriela also said if Duterte was "serious" about ending contractualization, he would start with one of the country's biggest establishments.

Duterte recently said he cannot force businessmen into ending contractualization.

READ: Duterte seeks 'compromise' on contractualization: 'I can't force capitalists'

"Instead of directing his iron fists against progressive groups and individuals critical to his anti-people policies, President Duterte must re-direct his wars against implementers of contractualization and to the system of endo as a whole," Calubaquib said.

READ: Bello: Duterte promised to sign EO on contractualization by March

Calubaquib claimed Duterte "did nothing on endo" for almost two years, and instead just continued to implement "anti-women and anti-people policies."

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, meanwhile, said they are preparing a draft EO that hopefully will be amenable to both business and labor sectors.

"You need to balance the interest of labor and also the interest of management. Otherwise, kung walang business, there is no employment," he said. "You rely on the department. We will see to it na yung hindi dapat i-outsource dapat gawing regular. At kapag may ginagawang contractual, we will order."

Bello said the President did not change his position, and explained when the president said that he would end contractualization, he meant ending 'illegal' contractualization.

Bello said to totally scrap labor contractualization, the labor code needs to be amended.

Last year, the Labor Department issued Department Order 174, banning labor-only contracting, outsourcing work due to a strike, and the so-called "endo" practice.

Labor groups that were dissatisfied with the order have continued to call for an EO that will end any form of contractualization.