By Aimee Yeo
July 12, 2021
The Catholic Church’s social action arm has expressed disappointment that ending labor contractualization is no longer part of President Duterte’s priority measures.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Caritas Philippines’ national director, called it a big blow not just to workers but also to their families.
He said it could also worsen the situation as the country faces another all-time low in unemployment at 7.7 percent in May 2021 or 3.73 million Filipinos.
“To say that endo (end of contractualization) is no longer a priority of President Duterte is a blow not only to the labor force, but even to their families who are severely affected by the pandemic,” Bagaforo said.
Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Usec. Jacinto Paras earlier said that the anti-endo bill, a measure that seeks to end contractualization was no longer part of Duterte’s priority legislation in his last year in office.
Ending labor contractualization was among Duterte’s campaign promises, but the issue was left out when he vetoed the security of tenure bill in 2019.
“At a time when our laborers are threatened to be cut from work anytime, when majority of contractual employees do not receive proper remuneration and benefits, the president could have shown more guts and stand by the country’s workforce,” added Bagaforo, who is also the bishop of Kidapawan.
The 2021 Global Rights Index by the International Trade Union Confederation named the Philippines as among the top 10 dangerous places for workers.
The ITUC report rates countries based on a set of criteria, including lack of guarantee or violations of workers’ rights.
Caritas Philippines also criticized the government’s prioritization of the Foreign Investments Act, and Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, over the abolition of an “unjust labor scheme of hiring and firing workers to avoid regularization”.
Its executive secretary, Fr. Antonio Labiao, said that to pump-prime local economies again, the government needs to “provide stimulus packages to small businesses so they can support their workers.”
Fr. Labiao also emphasized the urgency of legislating the end to contractualization “to dignify Filipino workers.”
The Church’s social action centers have been supporting labor groups through the programs of diocesan labor desks, which often include legal assistance, skills training, scholarship grants, counselling, and other social services needed.