Senators grill DOLE exec for admitting unpreparedness for proposed labor bills
MANILA, Philippines — Senators were vexed on Tuesday after an official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) admitted that the agency’s administrative structure is unprepared to implement proposed freelancer protection bills.
The Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, chaired by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, conducted a hearing on measures for freelancers’ protection and magna carta for workers in the informal economy.
DOLE Undersecretary Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr. said that the measures would give more assignments for DOLE, hence, needing more personnel.
“Nakikita po namin dito, ma-e-expand ‘yung jurisdiction ng Department of Labor and Employment. Papakialaman na rin niya ‘yung pag-e-enforce, pag-a-adjudicate nung claims arising from independent contracting arrangements,” Bitonio said.
(We see that the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and Employment will expand. It will also handle the enforcement and adjudication of claims arising from independent contracting arrangements.)
“Wala po ‘yan sa current system at kung ito ang mangyayari, ang Department of Labor and Employment po ay hindi handa. Hindi handa ‘yung administrative structure ng Department of Labor and Employment po dito,” Bitonio told senators.
(That is not in the current system; if it happens, the Department of Labor and Employment’s administrative structure is not prepared.)
Bitonio said that the DOLE could offer their Conciliation and Mediation Facilities for situations not covered by employer-employee relationships.
Bitonio’s remarks drew criticisms from Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senator Francis Tolentino.
Tolentino pointed out that they are asking for DOLE’s help to create a law that would benefit workers in the informal economy.
“I think the job here of DOLE is to help the committee finalize the contentious points coming out of the proposed bills and not to lecture us that it is difficult,” he said.
“Help us craft this bill. Help us finetune these pieces of legislation. Enable our workers benefit to social legislation that can be provided by the State and Congress,” continued Tolentino.
Villanueva shared Tolentino’s sentiment.
“This is the problem kapag simula pa lang ayaw na natin or nagco-complain na tayo na trabaho na naman, hindi ho maganda ‘yung dating,” the majority leader said.
(This is the problem if we are complaining about work from the start. It does not look good.)
“Perhaps, let’s be extra careful in making statements na ‘baka mahirap itong trabaho.’ Wala namang madaling trabaho, especially to help our people,” he added.
(Perhaps, let’s be extra careful in making statements that seem like the work will be hard. There is no easy job, especially in helping our people.)
Bitonio quickly apologized to the senators.
“We express our apologies for whatever undue statements that we may have made. As I’ve prefaced my statement earlier, we welcome the filing of this bill because it opens a whole new avenue of discussion.
“The intention of the Department of Labor and Employment in pointing out the matters that we have earlier stated was really to put forward the discussion points that we feel ought to be further explored in relation to the crafting of bill that is going to be responsive to the needs not only of freelancers but — as I’ve said earlier — to the needs of workers in the emerging economy who are involved in emerging work arrangements,” the undersecretary said.
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