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End of endo?

The Philippine Congress is mandated to canvass the votes for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates during yesterday’s elections. A formal proclamation of the winning candidates is expected something during the first week of June and the new president and vice-president, just like all other elected officials will assume office beginning noon of June 30, 2016.

One of the promises made by all presidential candidates, including Davao City Mayor and presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte, during their campaign is the end to the practice of contractualization in the labor sector. The fulfillment of this promise is one of the elements that will define the Duterte presidency.

The problem of labor contractualization in our country is a symptom of the ineffective implementation of laws. The widespread practice of contractualization despite the existence of laws and other executive issuances that prohibit the same is a clear proof that concerned government agencies, and even the political leadership in our country, do not have the political will to enforce the law.

Even if presumptive President Duterte promised a sweeping or absolute end to the contractualization, he may have to reconsider this position, not because he does not have the political will to do so because he is widely perceived to be a strict implementer of laws, but because it will certainly have adverse effects on the business sector and thus, on the whole economy.

The problem is not really about having contractual employees because some business or industries indeed have a genuine demand for contractual labor. For business organizations that have seasonal demand for their products or into projects (that have a limited duration), hiring of permanent employees does not make any business sense.

The real problem is in business organizations that obviously have a need for labor on a continuing basis but still insist on hiring workers on five-month contracts to go around the law that requires them to grant benefits to their employees.

Presumptive President Duterte, who is widely perceived to have genuine concern for Filipino workers and has the political will to enforce the law simply has to stop the abusive practice of contractualization by business organizations that are clearly just avoiding additional expenses for employee benefits. This may mean going against big businesses and big businessmen in the country but there is not other way if he is to adhere to the principles of the rule of law.

The president who will be able to stop not only the abuse of Filipino workers but also the wanton disregard to our laws will surely one who can claim that he has truly honored the trust given by the Filipino people.