Nero, the fifth Roman emperor, is among the most despised figures from history for his horrific cruelty to early Christians and, as the legend goes, for playing the fiddle while Rome was consumed by fire. There are several issues with the veracity of this tale, the most important problem is that the fiddle hadn’t been invented yet, and wouldn’t be for a millennium. Nero was a passionate lover of music and gifted on the cithara, a stringed instrument like a lyre, but there was no way he was playing a fiddle.
Let them hate me, so long as they fear me.
— Roman emperor Caligula
IT’S been five years since President Rodrigo Duterte promised the end to contractualization.
But there are loopholes in the former prosecutor’s initiative to end this practice because there is really no way for the government to force companies into ‘regularizing’ their employees, especially now that the ongoing coronavirus has impacted our economy and millions of our countrymen are out of jobs or are underemployed.
The simple truth for this is that the president has indeed betrayed his countrymen by failing to uphold workers’ rights. These are strong words from Caritas Philippines—the Catholic Church’s social arm and the country’s largest labor group.
Contractualization refers to the unsavory practice of allowing businesses to hire employees on six-month contracts to avoid having to give them benefits normally afforded to regular workers.
Philippine labor law says contractual workers are not entitled to privileges such as paid leave and bonuses if they are not regular employees—those working for an employer for more than six months.
Caritas Philippines national director and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice, and Peace chairman Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo has expressed extreme disappointment over Duterte’s failure to fulfill his campaign promise and sadly, it appears that this is no longer one of his priorities anymore—now that he is on the tail end of his presidential term.
And we are critically tired of Duterte’s ‘kill, kill, kill’ language and his incessant cursing. He should realize that we are not slaves or subjects of a notorious criminal leader like the Roman Caligula or Nero, who burned down the city of Rome while playing on his cithara (or lyre).
Moreover, this unfair policy of contracting workers for short durations is worsening the country’s labor situation as evidenced by an all-time high unemployment at 7.7 percent or 3.73 million Filipinos without jobs.
And with the national elections just around the corner, labor groups are urging the president to address major labor concerns instead of focusing on his political future after his single term ends next year.
Actually, what would be better is for us to put an end to the kingship of Duterte in 2022. The call to end the contract policy is now the same as calling for the end of Duterte’s rule. Enough is enough, as NAGKAISA labor coalition co-spokesperson Sonny Matula said in a press statement last July 12.
And we believe that Duterte has no right to seek public office again because of his dismal performance as president seen by his abuse of workers’ rights and very poor pandemic response.