Palace calls on Congress to pass anti-endo bill as Duterte’s term nears end

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Malacañang says the “anti-endo” bill remains an administration priority, as it urges Congress to pass the measure which President Rodrigo Duterte earlier certified as urgent but later vetoed in 2019. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — Malacañang on Monday urged Congress to pass the bill seeking to end illegal contractualization in the country — one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s major campaign promises.

Citing Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the measure continues to be an administration bill, but he added “no amount of certification” from the President can enact it into law if lawmakers decide against it.

“We continue to appeal to Congress to pass this anti-endo law as the term of the President ends,” Roque said in a briefing.

In a separate presser, Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment will write to Duterte to once again certify the measure as urgent.

"End of contract" or "endo" is a highly contested form of contractualization widely practiced in the country.

Under the scheme, 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 by law to regular employees.

Despite previously certifying it as urgent in 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte didn't sign the bill the following year due to its “sweeping expansion” of the definition of labor-only contracting, which he argued comes at the expense of employers. After the veto, lawmakers refiled the same measure in both houses of Congress.

Malacañang's statement also runs counter to that of Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Jacinto Paras, who earlier this month said the measure has ceased to become a government priority due to a supposed lack of clamor after Duterte's rejection. Around the same time, however, Bello said he believes the President will still approve the bill before his term expires next year.

Amid conflicting statements, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog said the Duterte administration should show it is serious in ending exploitative forms of contractualization.

“Kung hindi, ito ay isang malinaw na cheap political campaign gimmickry ng mga nasa Gabinete na naglalayong kumandidato sa darating na eleksyon,” he said.

[Translation: If they don’t end it, it would be clear the pronouncements were just cheap political campaign gimmickry of Cabinet officials who intend to run in the upcoming elections.]