Dismayed senators tell Cabinet: ‘Get your act together’
MANILA, Philippines —Get your act together and don’t make legislators look stupid.
This was how senators dared members of President Duterte’s Cabinet on Friday after he vetoed the Security of Tenure (SOT) bill that would have put an end to the labor contracting practice in the country.
“I’m saddened by the veto of the Security of Tenure bill. It makes no sense to me why Malacañang would declare it a priority measure then just to veto it after its approval,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement.
Zubiri noted how the Cabinet put pressure on the Senate after the bill was approved by the House of Representatives and had it certified as urgent by the President himself.
“I’m totally bewildered on this new development. Does that mean that a certification from the Palace no longer means that it is a priority?” the Majority Leader asked.
The senator expressed hope that this issue will be clarified “as this would put other so called ‘priority measures’ in question.”
“The Cabinet should get their act together as it would make us legislators look stupid and embarrass the President as well as he mentions these measures during the Sona (State of the Nation Address),” Zubiri added.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also echoed Zubiri’s statement.
“We regret it,” Drilon said in a separate statement, noting how the Senate worked hard to pass the measure after the President had certified it as urgent.
“The bill can be refiled but the executive must first get its act together. We have frontline departments (DOLE and Neda) with opposing views. We are unclear as to what the policy is,” he added.
DOLE is the Department of Labor and Employment while Neda is National Economic and Development Authority.
Drilon said the bill passed by Congress mirrored DOLE’s stand but Neda apparently had a different view, “which was eventually concurred in by the President.”
“With the veto message, it seems like the policy direction has been set. Any attempt to refile the bill could be an exercise in futility without the administration’s support,” he said.
Despite the veto, Drilon reiterated that that DOLE could still prohibit contractualization even without amending the Labor Code.
While feeling “crestfallen,” Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III expressed confidence the bill could still be pursued and passed in the 18th Congress.
“I am crestfallen but that’s how democracy works. And Congress being dynamic, can refile and repass the bill,” Sotto said.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, who sponsored the bill as chair of the Senate committee on labor, said the veto was a victory for the “powerful and the ruling class.”
“[A]ng katotohanan, minsan ay mas matimbang ang mga makapangyarihan at naghaharing-uri. Ang pagka veto ng ENDO ay isa sa mga manipistasyon ng mga ganitong pagkakataon,” Villanueva said in another statement.
“But make no mistake about it. We will persevere, until we see that no worker will involuntarily lose his or her job because of contractualization,” he added. /muf
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