MANILA - A bill seeking to stop contractualization or “endo” is not among the initial list of priority measures that the Palace has sent to Congress, Senate leaders confirmed Monday.
Senate Majority Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Palace already sent a list containing 22 proposed measures that the Palace wants the 18th Congress to pass.
He said the Security of Tenure Bill, which was earlier vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte and has since been refiled in the the two chambers of Congress, was not on the list.
Zubiri said the 22 Palace-backed bills are comprised mostly of what the President mentioned in his fourth State of the Nation Address.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the list can still be expanded, even as he conceded that passing all priority measures would be a tall order for the two chambers of Congress, which will also present their respective priority measures to the Palace.
“We cannot promise to pass all the 22. Hindi ganun kadali yun… We [will] tell them what’s realizable by June of 2020 for the first regular session and then perhaps some of the bills would be passed in the second regular session of the 18th Congress,” Sotto told reporters.
Duterte said he vetoed the Security of Tenure bill because it would "unduly broaden the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting.”
He added he wanted to maintain the “delicate balance” between the interests of employers and employees.
Lawmakers were dismayed after Duterte vetoed the proposed measure seeking to end contractualization, one of his campaign promises that helped put him in office. He had also certified the measure as urgent.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, the bill's principal author, said in a statement he was determined to pass the bill "because our workers deserve to fully realize their long-sought-after right to Security of Tenure as guaranteed by the Constitution."
"Despite not getting the priority at the LEDAC (Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council) at this time, we hope and pray that the administration will certify our bill as urgent, just as it did in the previous Congress, in the future meetings of the LEDAC."
Zubiri and Sotto said lawmakers, Palace officials and Cabinet officials have agreed to meet more frequently to agree on the priority measures they would work on. The two sides have already had their first meeting.
“Hopefully we will be able to eliminate the issues on bills being vetoed. As manifested by the majority leader (Zubiri) during the meeting, we were there to clear the air also,” Sotto said.
Zubiri said he aired lawmakers’ frustrations of bills, some certified urgent by Duterte, being vetoed.
He said the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, led by Secretary Adelino Sitoy, should actively monitor developments on bills and give their comments or feedbacks to the Senate.
Sotto also called for a “livelier PLLO participant” on Senate proceedings so that concerned departments are appraised of the developments on bills.
“I told them bluntly, ‘kung sa tingin ninyo ive-veto ng Presidente, we won’t waste our time on debating, wasting time, effort, money on a bill that will be vetoed anyway,’” Sotto said, recalling his meeting with Palace officials.