Ending 'endo': How's Duterte's campaign promise?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) —  Two years ago, then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte promised to end contractualization in a week.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III later clarified that what Duterte meant by terminating contractualization was -- "No more unlawful, illegitimate contractualization."

"Endo" or "end of contract" is a highly contested form of contractualization widely practiced in the country -- workers are hired for not more than five months, so employers don't need to regularize them on the sixth month as mandated by the Labor Code. It strips millions of workers of all the benefits granted to regular employees by law.

What has happened to the President's highly-anticipated crackdown on illegal contractual labor? Here's a look back at the statements and orders his administration has issued.

April 2016

Presidential candidates promise to end labor contractualization but Duterte's pitch during an April 24  debate stands out, as he says he can do it in a week.

"I will talk to the House Speaker and the Senate President... I will talk to the majority: You need to pass this bill immediately. I need it first week of my administration," Duterte says.

READ: Roxas to end contractualization in 3 to 6 months, Duterte in a week

May 2016

Duterte, who promised "genuine change" and campaigned on a hardline anti-crime, anti-drug platform, wins the May 9 presidential polls.

June 2016

Duterte takes his oath as the 16th President of the Philippines. It marks the start of labor groups' call for him to make good on his campaign promise to end "endo."

July 2016

The President delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), but to the workers' dismay, does not mention ending contractualization.

August 2016

Duterte reiterates the call for an end to contractualization, even threatening to close companies who refuse to stop the practice.

"Alam mo wala akong pera, wala akong tao [You know, I have neither the money nor the manpower] to really inspect all of the, you know, doing away with contractualization. My message to them is very simple: Do not wait for us to inspect," he says.

"Huwag na ninyo akong hintayin na mahuli ko kayo [Do not wait for me to catch you] because I will be unforgiving. You will not only lose your money, you will lose your plants," he adds.

October 2016

After 100 days in office, Duterte's promise to eradicate "endo" seems far-fetched, labor groups protest.

They slam the Labor Department's draft order on contractualization, saying it does not prohibit all forms of contractualization.

The draft Department Order 168 requires a higher capital for agencies hiring contractual workers and will fine those who violate its provisions.

Kilusang Mayo Uno says the security of tenure is not addressed.

DOLE reiterates the draft is still subject to review by a tripartite body composed of government officials, employees, and the labor sector.

March 2017

Some labor leaders walk out of a meeting with Labor officials and employer groups, angry at the final draft of the department order.

It mandates manpower agencies, instead of the principal employers, to regularize workers, and allows contractualization for seasonal and project-based jobs.

Labor groups reiterate the call for a total ban on contractualization and agency hiring.

March 2017

Bello signs Department Order 174, the much-awaited rules on contractualization.

The order bans labor-only contracting, outsourcing work due to a strike, and "555" or "endo."

Labor groups stage nationwide protests, arguing that the order actually favors employers and allows manpower agencies to reabsorb workers if employers do not regularize them.

Employers warn the order may result in thousands of job cuts across industries.

"In general, within the law naman, pahigpit nga lang nang pahigpit to the point na pataas nang pataas ang gastos at pabawas nang pabawas ang tao niyan," Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) Acting President Sergio Ortiz-Luis says.

[Translation: The DOLE order is within the law, but it's much stricter to the point where it will drive up costs for companies, and lead to layoffs of workers.]

The Palace, on the other hand, maintains the order fulfills Duterte's campaign promise.

Labor groups urge Duterte to come up with an executive order (EO) that will boost labor standards and end any form of contractualization.

July 2017

Bello admits his department has failed to end contractualization within the administration's first year in office, pointing out the lack of manpower to do so.

"We've failed to regularize the contractuals as much as we wanted to," Bello says.

He claims it has been difficult for the government to monitor the compliance of all employers because it only has 500 officers to inspect over 900,000 business establishments nationwide.

He also clarifies that what Duterte meant by terminating contractualization was -- "No more unlawful, illegitimate contractualization."

"Because hindi mo maiwasan eh na [you can't avoid that] sometimes, you have to resort to a contractual arrangement," he says, citing project-based and seasonal hiring as exceptions.

February 2018

Duterte has promised to sign an EO banning illegal forms of contractualization by March, Bello says.

In a February 26 speech, however, Duterte seeks a "compromise," saying he cannot force "capitalists" to end contractualization.

"Don't make it hard for them to run the business the way they like it because that's their money. So something of a compromise must be - maybe acceptable to everybody," Duterte says.

The Palace clarifies this does not mean the President is giving up on delivering his promise to end contractualization as he is still studying the matter.

April 2018

The administration announces the President is no longer signing any EO, but leaves the contractualization issue to Congress.

"[The President] will instead certify as a priority bill the bill that is currently pending on the Senate on security of tenure," Bello says. 

Duterte gives DOLE 30 days to submit an inventory of firms involved in "labor-only contracting."

May 2018

Duterte announced on May 1 — Labor Day — he has signed the executive order banning illegal contractualization. The order bans contracting and sub-contracting.