VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Despite veto of contractualization bill, Duterte pushes for security of tenure

In his Labor Day message, President Rodrigo Duterte repeated his campaign promise to continue pushing for workers’ rights, including security of tenure.

This needs context in view of the president’s veto of a Congress-approved measure prohibiting contractualization.


The message, released on May 1 by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on its website, reads in part:

“To all Filipino workers here and abroad, let me assure you that this administration will endeavor to work as vigorously as you have in creating an environment where security of tenure, statutory labor standards, and workers’ rights are not only upheld and protected, but also cherished as the foundations of a strong and thriving workforce.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Labor Day message – Presidential Communications Operations Office, May 1, 2021


In July 2019, the president had a chance to enact a measure that sought to penalize contractualization, but he chose to veto it, saying the proposed law “unduly broadens the scope and definition of labor-only contracting.”

This, he said, would “effectively [proscribe] forms of contractualization that are not particularly unfavorable” to employees. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: To ‘endo’ or to end it: How Duterte backtracked on vow to stop contractualization)

In a three-page veto message to the Senate and House of Representatives, while expressing his “firm commitment” to protect workers’ right to security of tenure “by eradicating all forms of abusive employment practices,” Duterte said businesses should be left “free to engage” in practices beneficial to both management and employees.

“Businesses should be allowed to determine whether they should outsource certain activities or not, especially when job-contracting will result in economy and efficiency in their operations, with no detriment to the workers,” the president further said.

The rejection of the measure — a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1826 and House Bill (HB) No. 6908 — was a departure from Duterte’s strong stance in pressing Congress to pass a bill ending “endo” (end of contract), which refers to the hiring of workers for less than six months or cancelling job contracts every six months to avoid regularization as mandated by law.

During his campaign for the 2016 presidential elections, then-candidate Duterte promised that contractualization would stop “the moment I assume the presidency,” calling it “an injustice committed against the Republic of the Philippines.”

“I will not allow that as president of this country,” he said at the time.

Watch this 2019 VERA Files Fact Check video on how Duterte’s stance has shifted since then:

The president did not explicitly mention the issue of contractualization and security of tenure in his speeches, media briefings, and official statements in 2020, including in his Labor Day message and penultimate State of the Nation Address, based on a search through official transcripts on the PCOO website. (See SONA 2019 PROMISE TRACKER: Social services)

At least 22 bills seeking to provide security of tenure to either private and government workers by amending the Labor Code were filed at the House in the current Congress. Two of these, HB 7036, which aims to “strengthen the security of tenure” of workers in the private sector, and HB 8140, which centers on the welfare of media workers, have been approved and transmitted to the Senate.

The remaining 20 other measures seeking to regularize workers in various employment statuses in government, barangay health workers, public school teachers, or public bus drivers and conductors remain pending in various committees.

Meanwhile, at least five bills on the matter filed in the Senate are also pending in their respective committees.

In the absence of any law fully enforcing security of tenure, DOLE has been conducting inspection of private businesses to ensure compliance with labor standards. In its latest performance report, the agency said 614,255 workers have been regularized as a result of voluntary regularization or through inspection of its labor inspectors from August 2016 to May 2020.



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(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)