by Pathricia Ann V. Roxas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sep 4, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) does not have clear data on the number of contractual or non-regular workers in the country as it admits having shortcomings in regularizing workers.
This was revealed during the budget defense of the agency before the House appropriations committee on Wednesday during the questioning of Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite.
“Compared to the number of unregularized employees malaki talaga ang pagkukulang,” Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III admitted when asked about the number of contractual workers in the country.
Bello said 504,149 workers were regularized from August 2016 to July 31, 2019. Some 65 percent of the figure was through voluntary regularization and inspection of companies while the rest was through the issuance of compliance orders.
Gaite lamented the lack of data and noted that the International Labor Organization (ILO) has recorded an estimated 7 to 10 million non-regular workers in the country.
Assistant Sec. Benjo Benavidez said this data has yet to be verified.
“We can only speak of the number contractual workers of establishments we inspected or more than 200,000 na naka-pending pa po for resolution,” Benavidez said.
“The only way we can finally determine whether the work arrangement is illegal or not is only after inspection and finality of a decision coming from the regional director, to the office of the Secretary, all the way to the Supreme Court,” he further explained.
Gaite then argued that the number of regularized workers could not be considered as an accomplishment due to the lack of data on total contractual workers.
“Mahirap masukat ang performance kung hindi… ma-establish ang base line data mo. In the absence of any data, mahirap masabi na ‘yung 504,000 is an accomplishment,” Gaite said.
Bello meanwhile said that they are unmanned given that their 7,000 labor law compliance officers have to inspect around 900,000 establishments.
DOLE requested additional plantilla positions for 5,000 inspectors but the Department of Budget and Management, under the National Expenditure Program (NEP), only approved 100.
“We have to admit our limitation in terms of inspection. Much as we would want to inspect all these establishments… physically, your honor, this has become very impossible and hopefully this time… we hope to get the requested number of inspectors,” Bello said.
DOLE’s budget for 2020 under the NEP is P14.4 billion, 12 percent lower than 2019’s P16.4 billion. /muf