President Rodrigo R. Duterte wants the executive order (EO) seeking to scrap labor contractualization or “endo” released on or before Labor Day (May 1), his spokesperson said Monday, April 16.

“The President wants it as soon as possible. We all know that Labor Day is May 1 so I would think it would come out on or before May 1,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque made this statement after the supposed meeting between Duterte and labor groups on Monday regarding the EO on endo was canceled.

He could not say why the meeting was canceled or if it was actually scheduled, but surmised that the final version of the EO has yet to be agreed upon by both government and the labor sector.

It was Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III who said in an earlier interview that Duterte and labor groups are set to meet on Monday.

“I was looking at my own calendar, I did not find it in my own calendar,” Roque said referring to the supposed meeting between Duterte and labor groups.

“I can only surmise that the final version of the EO has not been agreed upon by both labor management and government. It’s a tripartite document which has to be agreed upon so possibly they don’t have a final version yet,” Roque said.

Roque said that the more fitting occasion to sign the EO would be on or before Labor Day.

“I would think that they would want a significant EO like this to be issued in connection with another commemoration recognizing the value of the labor sector in our society which is Labor Day,” Roque said.

Roque said that Duterte has been “restive” about the EO since it was his campaign promise, after all.

On Friday (April 13), Bello met with several labor organizations who submitted a draft for consideration of the President.

“They presented a draft and it will be one of the draft EOs which we will submit to the Office of the President. It’s okay. The more drafts the better for the president to have a better option,” Bello said.

Malacañang earlier said that while Duterte was bent on fulfilling his campaign promise, Congress must step in the process.

Former Senior Deputy Executive Secretary and now Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that an EO is meant “only to supplement” what the law provides but it cannot “add, subtract or substantially alter it”.

“Just because an executive order can’t ban contractualization doesn’t mean that the President has turned his back on his promise to end contractualization because the President can still do it with consultation or in coordination with Congress,” Guevarra said in an earlier Palace briefing.

Guevarra, however, reiterated that Congress needed to step in and create a law to repeal or amend that particular provision of the Labor Code.

“That’s really more for Congress to do,” Guevarra said.

Last month, Duterte sought for a “compromise” on endo, stressing how difficult it was to force employers to abolish the practice completely. (With reports from Elijah D. Mendoza-OJT/PNA)

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