The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights criticized President Aquino’s defense of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and challenge to the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling against DAP as “setting a bad example” for companies that violate labor rights and defy court decisions favoring workers.
Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said that President Aquino’s stubborn defense of DAP and challenge to the SC go beyond the issue of DAP itself as “it sets a bad example for rights violators, especially companies, that they may also also resist Supreme Court rulings that are favorable to workers.”
Arago also said that there have been many cases in the past wherein companies and individual capitalists have ignored court decisions that favor workers. The group cited the case of food giant Nestle which did not implement SC’s decision to include the retirement benefits in the collective bargaining agreement but instead offered the workers a meager settlement after more than a decade.
The group maintained that while not all SC decisions upheld workers interests, the challenged posed by the President to its co-equal body in effect undermines the rule of law and may have more harmful implications for groups seeking redress through judicial and legal means.
On July 14, President Aquino delivered a public speech defending DAP despite the Supreme Court’s unanimous vote on July 1 declaring the said program “unconstitutional” as the Executive usurped powers of the Congress when it realigned and allocated budget for items not in the General Appropriations. Malacañang has since received strong criticisms from groups and prominent individuals for its “arrogance” in contesting the power, mandate and judgment of the SC to interpret the law.
Lots of explaining to do
Meanwhile, CTUHR said that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also has a lot of explaining to do in relation to DAP as it also received at least P57.7 million pesos in 2012 to hire labor law compliance officers under DAP supposedly to “help identify and apprehend those abusing labor laws.”
“Violations of labor standards have not diminished instead the rate have increased from 30% in 2012 to 43% in 2013 and we haven’t heard of any violator of labor standards apprehended or penalized. The list of DAP projects also says this project of DOLE ‘seeks to avoid the abusive practice of renewing contracts every five months’ however, contractualization has never been more rampant today than before,” Arago said.
In support of the calls to hold the creators of DAP accountable, CTUHR reiterated its position to abolish all forms of pork barrel and discretionary funds. “President Aquino and Budget Secretary Abad are accountable for their illegal use of public funds through the DAP. The least they could have done was to explain and prove their claims that the money was used properly. However, the Executive’s reactions have been rather defensive and indignant. Such conceit and willfulness is untenable for in the end, the people are the judge and the President will have to brace himself for this greater challenge,” Arago added.###