THE VOLUNTARY regularization plan put forward by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) has not been signed, with ECoP and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) citing various reasons for the plan’s sidetracking, which include a threat by labor groups to prosecute to Secretary of Labor for dereliction of duty.
In a briefing, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said that the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ECoP for the National Voluntary Regularization Program has been cancelled. The regularization plan was supposed to start this month, in the process granting ECoP a three-year moratorium from labor inspections.
Mr. Bello said that the cancellation was due to the opposition of labor groups, who claim the regularization program will further delay the implementation of the Security of Tenure (SoT) Bill, which is currently awaiting second reading at the Senate. The SoT Bill was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
“We are supposed to sign an MoU with ECoP. We are supposed to regularize not less than 200,000. They mistook that agreement (as being in lieu of) the SOT Bill,” Mr. Bello said.
ECoP President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. told BusinessWorld on Wednesday that he was unaware of Mr. Bello’s reasons for saying the MoU was cancelled.
“There is no official word that they are calling it off. As far as I’m concerned, it is just postponed,” he said in a phone interview.
Mr. Ortiz-Luis said on the day of signing, it was DoLE that cancelled the ceremony because of scheduling conflicts.
He added that DoLE pledged to reschedule the MoU signing, suggesting a delay rather than cancellation.
“They said they’re rescheduling it and I didn’t get news that they’re holding it off. As of now, we’re waiting for the reschedule,” Mr. Ortiz-Luis stressed, adding “I have a feeling it will go ahead.”
Mr. Bello said that if the National Voluntary Regularization program goes ahead, he could be subject to legal action from labor groups.
“I was warned that they will file charges if I go ahead with it,” he said.
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (NAGKAISA) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said earlier this month that they are considering filing a corruption complaint against Mr. Bello. They claim the DoLE-ECoP agreement will violate Republic Act No. 301 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
They also said that granting a three-year moratorium on labor inspections constitutes dereliction of duty by a public official.
They cited the Revised Penal Code’s Article 208 which calls for the imprisonment of officials that “maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution for the punishment of violators of the law, or shall tolerate the commission of offenses.” — Gillian M. Cortez