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Palace ‘saddened’ by CA ruling vs PLDT workers

Malacañang on Monday said it was “saddened” by the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) to halt the order of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), directing Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) to regularize 7,344 workers hired from third party contractors.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the DoLE's decision is also considered as an “executive decision”, noting that the CA ruling was unfortunate.

“Well, ang desisyon po ng DoLE ay desisyon ng Executive. So, siyempre po nalulungkot kami na binaligtad ng CA ang desisyon (The decision of the DoLE is the decision of the execuive. So, of course, we are saddened that the CA had to reverse the decision),” Roque said in a press briefing in Malinta, Davao Occidental.

However, Roque said the Palace remains hopeful that once it reaches the Supreme Court, the DOLE order to regularize PLDT workers would be affirmed.

“Umaasa pa rin kami na kapag umabot ito sa Supreme Court ay mananaig pa rin iyong naging naunang desisyon ng DOLE na desisyon ng Ehekutibo (We are still hoping that once this reaches the Supreme Court, the first decision of the DoLE which is also the decision of the executive, will prevail),” Roque said.

“So, we are for the regularization of workers of PLDT,” he added.

In a 47-page decision dated July 31, the CA’s Tenth Division granted the PLDT petition for the issuance of the injunction against the order of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

According to the CA, only workers of contractors performing installations, repairs and maintenance services of the PLDT lines should be considered for regularization.

The court held that PLDT did not violate any law when it decided not to regularize the business process outsourcing (BPO) and Information Technology (IT) support personnel.

It noted that DOLE Department Circular No. 1, series of 2017, actually exempted such services from the coverage of Department Order No. 174, which defined labor-only contracting.

This meant “there is no basis for [the] inclusion” of the employees of the contractors rendering IT support services for PLDT in the regularization order.

Ending contractualization is one of Duterte’s campaign promises.

Last May 1 (Labor Day), Duterte signed Executive Order No. 51 which seeks the implementation of Article 106 of the Labor Code of the Philippines “to protect the right of security of tenure of all workers based on social justice in the 1987 Philippine Constitution”.

“It is the declared policy of the government to protect the worker’s right to security of tenure by eradicating all forms of abusive employment practices through the strict implementation of the provisions of the Labor Code, as amended,” the EO read.

The EO shall apply to all parties including cooperatives engaged in any contracting and subcontracting arrangement.

Duterte, however, acknowledged that “a mere executive order can only do so much” because it was the job of the Congress to amend the existing Labor Code which he described as “outdated.”

"I remain firm in my commitment to put an end to “endo” and illegal contractualization. However, I believe that in order to implement an effective and lasting solution to the problems brought about by contractualization, Congress needs to enact a law amending the Labor Code," Duterte said in an earlier speech.