Employers buck Labor Code amendments

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Employers are strongly opposing provisions included in over two dozen House bills that seek to amend the provisions of the Labor Code on security of tenure and contractualization.


The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said yesterday there are currently 25 bills for deliberation before the House committee on labor and employment seeking to amend the provisions of the Labor Code on security of tenure and contractualization which have specific provisions that the group considers “objectionable.”

“The conduct of various forms of businesses invariably involves the exercise of management prerogative. Jurisprudence has reiterated time and again that the exercise of management prerogative is not subject to interference so long as it is done in good faith based on the exigencies of business and not intended to circumvent the legal rights of labor,” ECOP said.

“Contracting out (job contracting or outsourcing) as an exercise of management prerogative and business judgment is not only acknowledged in law and jurisprudence, but it is premised on two constitutional rights – right and freedom to contract and right to property,” it added.

ECOP said the provisions in some of the bills allowing only contractual arrangements which are “not usually necessary or desirable, or directly related to the usual business of the principal” would totally prohibit any form of contracting or outsourcing because what is being contracted out is the work or part of the work of the employer.

The group said the implication of such prescription to employers is that they can no longer contract out janitorial, security, messengerial and even higher forms of contracting and outsourcing involving business processes and manufacturing.

“The destructive impact on business, investment as well as the creation of wealth and jobs would be unimaginable,” it said.

ECOP likewise pointed out that a number of the bills prohibit fixed term employment “contrary to established jurisprudence.”

“Jurisprudence has reiterated time and again that the exercise of management prerogative is not subject to interference so long as it is done in good faith based on the exigencies of business and not intended to circumvent the legal rights of labor,” ECOP said.

“Prohibiting fixed period employment violates the freedom of contract of both parties who knowingly, willingly and without any moral pressure gave their consent to the execution of the contract guaranteed by the Constitution,” it added.

Employers have been at odds with workers on their position about contracting. Labor groups have called for the complete abolition of the practice of contracting in the country, while employers say there is a form of contracting that is legal under the law.



NABCOR, NLDC execs found administratively liable for ex-solon’s PDAF misuse

The Office of the Ombudsman has found several officials of the abolished National Agribusiness Corporation and National Livelihood Development Corporation administratively liable for the alleged anomalous use of P27.5 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former Agusan Del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza.

Found guilty of Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service were Victor Roman Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez, Sofia Cruz and Gregoria Buenaventura.

The Ombudsman ordered their dismissal from service and perpetual disqualification to hold public office. They were also slapped with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

In its 54-page decision, the Ombudsman said the respondents cannot claim their length of government service as justification for their act.

“[R]espondents’ dedication and outstanding service to the government should not be cited as a circumstance that deserves public gratitude considering that the level of service which is expected from every public servant is no less that exemplary service," the decision read.

"Public office is a public trust and public officers must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives,” it added.

Plaza, along with the respondents, were charged with five counts each of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation before the Sandiganbayan.

According to Ombudsman investigation, Plaza from 2004 to 2010 channeled P27.5 million of his PDAF through Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka (MAMFI) and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI), two of the non-government organizations allegedly controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

However, the Ombudsman found that the projects which Plaza's PDAF were supposed to fund were non-existent, as the agricultural and livelihood kits and packages were not delivered to the intended beneficiaries.

The respondents were also accused of disbursing the public funds using fabricated disbursements, certificates of acceptance, progress, inspection and delivery reports.

“The funds in question could not have been transferred to these NGOs if not for [the respondents'] certifications, approvals, and signatures found in the corresponding DVs (disbursement vouchers) and checks,” the decision read.

Plaza was also alleged to have received at least P42.1 million in kickbacks from his PDAF-funded projects.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division currently handles the PDAF cases against Plaza and his co-respondents. — BM, GMA News

Aguirre urges Congress to convene on martial law

The justice secretary believes that if Congress convenes to affirm the President's martial law declaration, the Supreme Court won't have the last say on the issue.

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Monday, May 29, Congress must convene in order to solidify President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao, and keep it from reaching the Supreme Court (SC).

“I believe that Congress must meet in a joint session. Otherwise, they would not have the option whether to revoke or to affirm the martial law declaration, and this will allow the SC to have the last say on the issue,” Aguirre said in a news briefing. (READ: Opposition senators seek joint session on martial law)

Aguirre said he had communicated this to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

Aguirre said that if Congress backs Duterte's martial law, the High Court would be "almost powerless" to step in and say otherwise.

Aguirre's statement goes against Section 18 Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, which gives the SC the power to review the martial law declaration upon the filing of a petition by any Filipino citizen.

Lawyer and political analyst Tony La Viña said that "from a legal point of view," SC will have the last say.

In the same news briefing, Aguirre contradicted himself by saying that the SC could still review the martial law declaration, but that he is confident it has enough factual basis to pass judicial scrutiny.

Aguirre himself had said that if critics want to challenge martial law, they could go to the High Court.

“I believe that in view of the declaration of the President and the concurrence of Congress the only way that the SC could oppose this is when it shows that the act, that the President acted arbitrarily, which is very difficult to prove,” Aguirre said. (READ: Questions you need to ask about martial law in Mindanao)

Solicitor General Jose Calida, who will have the task to defend Duterte's martial law should it reach the High Court, earlier said that the declaration has sufficient basis.

There are two constitutional grounds to declare martial law: rebellion and invasion. Constitutionalist Christian Monsod said that the crisis in Marawi city does not constitute rebellion.

For Aguirre, the joint attack of terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf was a "prelude to eventually take over the entire island,“ which means that it satisfies the grounds to declare martial rule.

Aguirre also hit Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for what he said was a "premature" statement on martial law. Sereno delivered a speech on Friday before graduates of Ateneo de Manila University. She called on Filipinos to be vigilant and not allow Duterte's martial law to be a repeat of the abuses 

during the 10-year martial rule of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

“I’ve heard of it, but I believe that is premature, that should have not been said because an action or a petition before the SC could be raised before it,” Aguirre said.

Sereno also called out constitutional bodies such as the Office of the Ombudsman and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to do its jobs to make sure the martial law upholds the rights of the people.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales declined to comment so she will not be interpreted as having a pre-judgment on possible martial law related cases which may be filed before her office.

“That’s the reason why I don’t like to talk about martial law, because there could be cases brought before us, eh, I might be prejudging inadvertently whatever actions we might be taking,” Morales said on Monday after she attended the Office of the Ombudsman's launch of the Corrupt-Free Philippines Video Contest, an event at a hotel in Pasig City.

Morales also shrugged off Duterte's statement over the weekend that he will ignore the SC when it comes to martial law.

“He just said that. That’s a mere knee-jerk reaction to the Supreme Court,” Morales said.

On Monday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President will respect any SC ruling on the martial law, but included a caveat in his statement nonetheless.

"Of course he will respect [Supreme Court] but based on his own considerations being Commander-in-Chief," Abella said. – Lian Buan/Rappler.com

‘Duterte won’t bypass SC, Congress’

By: Christine O. Avendaño - Philippine Daily Inquirer

Malacañang said on Monday that President Duterte had no intention of bypassing the Supreme Court and Congress when he told soldiers during a visit in Jolo over the weekend that he would listen only to the police and the military in enforcing martial law in Mindanao.
Opposition senators, however, issued statements blasting the President and warned of a looming dictatorship.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Mr. Duterte meant he would take the word more of “those who are truly aware of the situation”—the martial law enforcers.
“This is not meant to bypass the Supreme Court or the legislative [branch]. It simply means to say that those who have true and accurate reports … on which he will depend will be the military and the Philippine National Police,” Abella said at the first “Mindanao Hour” press conference called to update the public on the government offensive against terrorists in Marawi City.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III echoed Abella’s statement, saying the President “probably means the AFP and the PNP are the ones who would know what’s happening.”

In a text message, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said people should “get used to [Mr. Duterte’s] rhetoric by now” as he pointed out that the Chief Executive was, after all, a lawyer by profession and knew “he can’t ignore the Supreme Court and Congress in this regard.”
“The mere fact that he complied with the constitutional requirement of submitting to Congress the written report within 48 hours shows his respect and regard to the Constitution and established authorities,” Lacson said.
Impact on country
Agreeing that the President knew he could not ignore Congress or the high court, Sen. Grace Poe pointed out the tendency of Mr. Duterte to “speak depending on who he’s addressing, who his audience is.”
“I know the President still has to realize that whatever he utters, whether in a small, intimate gathering or a huge gathering, will have an impact on the country,” Poe told a cable news program on Monday.
But Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said it was clear from Day One that Mr. Duterte “had no respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions.”
“People should start waking up because he will keep on pushing the boundaries of his power for as long as no one is pushing back,” Trillanes said.
“No one is above the law, not even the President,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.
“We call on patriotic and sober Cabinet members, as well as the Armed Forces leadership, to assert themselves, to speak truth to the President, to caution and urge him not to violate the Constitution and his oath of office,” he added.
“We call for courage, for bearers of light to stand against the looming tide of darkness upon our land.”
Constitutional violation
“Is the President saying that he’s willing to violate the Constitution? He is on his way [to] becoming a dictator,” said Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat.
“The question is, can we trust this President to be a martial law administrator given his penchant for violence, disregard for the rule of law and our Constitution? Can we trust this administration, which thrives on lies and alternative facts?” said Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said “the Filipino people should be warned that the President has long had the intention to impose martial law on the whole country.”
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, in an interview with reporters, played down Mr. Duterte’s reported threat.
Knee-jerk reaction
“That’s a mere knee-jerk reaction to the Supreme Court,” said Morales, a retired member of the high tribunal, whose nephew, Manases Carpio, is a son-of-law of Mr. Duterte.
“The President is a lawyer, he has advisers, he should know the limitations indicated in the Constitution,” she said.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is monitoring the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.
“There is the danger of abuse. Our concern is that no rights [should be] trampled upon,” CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz told the Inquirer.
In a joint statement over the weekend, the presidents of five Ateneo University campuses in the country urged Mr. Duterte to “act judiciously,” saying that the country had “more than a decade of reasons” to be wary of martial law. —WITH REPORTS FROM NIKKO DIZON, JOCELYN R. UY, VINCE F. NONATO AND NESTOR P. BURGOS JR


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