LABOR Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said his department will submit its draft Security of Tenure (SoT) bill later this year after legislators finalize the 2020 budget, further delaying the new version of the vetoed measure, which was originally to be forwarded to Congress in August.

Mr. Bello told reporters he is waiting for Congress to clear its calendar because legislators are currently preoccupied with the P4.1 trillion 2020 budget.

Nagfofocus ang Congress sa budget (Congress is focusing on the budget,” he said.

The House leadership is currently hard-pressed to remain on track for the budget’s approval after the four-months-delayed 2019 Budget, which was blamed for reducing economic growth after government contractors missed large parts of the critical dry-season construction window.

On Sept. 1, Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. called for the withdrawal of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for being “premature” because the individual budget hearings of various agencies have not yet been completed.

Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano has said issues raised by Mr. Villafuerte have been addressed and the budget will be on track for its scheduled October passage.

The SoT measure from the 17th Congress, or Senate Bill 1826, was vetoed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in July. He noted that the bill does not allow business the flexibility to hire workers and could harm the investment climate. The Palace later requested the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to come up with its own version of the SoT Bill.

Mr. Bello said he will be holding monthly meetings with the labor sector to address its concerns over the new bill.

Meron kaming (We have an) agreement and it was a proposal on my part that we will have a monthly meeting every last Tuesday of the month. (It will start) this month,” he said.

Mr. Bello added DoLE is awaiting inputs from employers groups. After consolidating the input of both the labor and management sectors, he is set to send the draft to before finally submitting the final bill.

“We have already gave a copy of the proposed draft SoT bill but before finalizing we gave a copy of this SoT bill to labor and management for them to propose some revision and additional provision,” he said.

“After we get the inputs from labor and management, we will meet with Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea to come up with a proposed bill.”

DoLE will also be consulting with the Department of Finance (DoF), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regarding the SoT Bill. — Gillian M. Cortez