BAGUIO CITY – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III expressed confidence that the new version of the proposed Security of Tenure (SOT) bill will be passed by the 18th Congress and eventually signed by the President into law within the year.
Bello said the DOLE technical working group will meet with representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other concerned agencies for inputs in the executive department’s version for submission to Congress.
“We will first meet with the concerned agencies to hear out their concerns and recommendations and hopefully, by the end of the month we can submit our improved version to Congress,” the labor chief said during a media forum in Malate, Manila.
At the same time, Bello said he is pushing for broader authority to close down or suspend operation of erring establishments for non-compliance and violation of labor standards, and deprivation of the rights of workers.
He said the measures were necessary to ensure strict compliance of general labor standards by the more than 900,000 business establishments in the country.
“In this new version of the proposed bill, a provision states that the labor department can release an order for the closure or suspension of an establishment should they be proven to continue violating labor standards,” Bello said.
However, Bello assured the public that the powers given to DOLE will not be abused because only the labor chief can sign an order to close or suspend erring enterprises.
“Regional Directors can only recommend such closure or suspension of an establishment upon presenting evidence and only the labor secretary can sign the order. We will not tolerate any abuse of authority in the department,” Bello said.
The proposed bill is expected to be discussed in the upcoming Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meetings.
By Dexter A. See