Sotto questions anti-endo bill proposal: We passed it, Duterte vetoed it

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 21) — Senate President Tito Sotto III questioned the recent proposal of Malacañang to end illegal contractualization in the country, which President Rodrigo Duterte already vetoed two years ago.

"The President vetoed it. What do they want us to do? We passed it," Sotto told CNN Philippines' The Source in a taped interview on Wednesday.

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

Sotto referred to Duterte's two-page veto message sent to the 17th Congress which passed the consolidated Senate Bill 1826 and House Bill 6908 or the "Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act."

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

In his veto message dated July 26, 2019, Duterte noted that even if the bill codifies into law existing rules on labor-only contracting and security of tenure, "it likewise unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting, effectively proscribing forms of contractualization that are not particularly unfavorable to the employees involved."

He also cited the need to balance the concerns of employers and employees.

Sotto called out Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque for insinuating that Congress did not act on the measure. He also said that the current SB 1826 under the 18th Congress already covers an entirely different bill, which seeks to reapportion the second legislative district of Rizal provinces into three.

Sotto also called on the Department of Labor and Employment to specify what it wants to be included in the anti-endo bill, if it wants Congress to once again act on the measure.

DOLE earlier said that it will write to Duterte to certify the passage of the anti-endo bill as urgent to finally put an end to the issue.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he already signed the proposal letter.

"I just signed the letter addressed to our President recommending the issuance of the certification to certify 'yung ating [our anti-endo] bill pending before the Senate," Bello said Wednesday in a Laging Handa briefing.

The department's data showed that there are around 700,000 workers who have been regularized since the start of Duterte's term. However, some 50,000-60,000 workers remain contractual.