Duterte’s promise to end labor contracting

/ 05:06 AM April 14, 2018

In the wake of the coming Labor Day, the controversy regarding President Duterte’s promise to end labor contracting has once again hogged the headlines.

It can be recalled that Mr. Duterte made this promise during the last and final debate among presidential candidates in April 2016. This caused many labor groups to vote for him.


In March 2017, the Department of Labor and Employment came up with Department Order No. 174 prohibiting labor-only contracting but allowing job contracting, which is no different from the conditions then under DO No. 18-A under the Aquino administration.

Labor groups naturally made a lot of noise about it such that during Labor Day last year, Mr. Duterte asked them to draft an executive order on the matter. The workers submitted their draft but it has remained unsigned by the President.


Numerous dialogues were conducted between representatives and employers on the issue of labor contracting until Malacañang hinted a compromise—a proposal which was eventually turned down by labor groups.

Early this month, Malacañang came out with a pronouncement that Mr. Duterte cannot order a total ban on labor contractualization because only a new law can prohibit such practice. In other words, the Labor Code provisions on labor contracting has to be amended and needs the cooperation of Congress for this to be attained.

But Article 106 of the Labor Code states in part that the “Secretary of Labor and Employment may, by appropriate regulations, restrict or prohibit the contracting out of labor to protect the rights of the workers established under this Code.”

It appears that Malacañang need not pass the buck to Congress as the secretary of labor is empowered to prohibit labor contracting under the Labor Code.

Or was the President, as it has always been, only joking when he made his promise?

Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center,
Quezon City

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TAGS: contractualization, Duterte, endo, Inquirer letters, Labor Day
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