THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said it will seek more funding to hire labor inspectors in order to sustain the momentum of worker regularization, after more than 500,000 private-sector contractual employees achieved permanent status during this administration’s term.

At a budget hearing, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said it deployed 700 labor inspectors earlier in the year to inspect more than 41,000 firms employing 1.5 million workers but is “requesting additional inspectors to cover the more than 900,000 establishments nationwide.”

Appearing at the House of Representatives, Mr. Bello said: “Gusto man namin na ma-inspect lahat ng businessmen, wala kaming kakayahan (We don’t have the resources to inspect all businesses). I hope you can give us support in terms of law compliance officers. Otherwise, we will continue to be inutile in terms of inspection.”

Mr. Bello noted that DoLE was able to win regular status for 504,149 contractual employees from August 2016 until July 2019. Some 65% were regularized through voluntary compliance of their employers and 35% were granted regular status after the issuance of compliance orders.

“Compared to the number of unregularized employees, malaki talaga ang pagkukulang. Malaki pa. (There are many more who can be made regular) We have a long way to go,” he said.

Meanwhile, Labor Assistant Secretary Benjo M. Benavidez said that around 200,000 cases of contractuals are awaiting resolution.

“These 200,000 are workers of establishments we have inspected and pending before the regional offices of the Department of Labor and Employment. These also include cases pending before the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court,” Mr. Benavidez said.

The proposed DoLE budget for 2020 is P14.42 billion, which is 12% lower than its current P16.36 billion budget. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras