Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday ascribed to Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III’s reform measures the highly positive first monitoring report on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) that included an assessment of the Philippines’ implementation of eight international labor conventions.

 

“The EU Trade Preferences Monitoring report on the country’s improved progress on labor rights reflects the efforts of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration to implement the labor reform measures which ensure compliance with the eight International Labor Organizations Conventions,” said Baldoz.

 

The eight core ILO conventions are Convention 29, or Forced Labor Convention; Convention 87, or Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize Convention; Convention 98, or the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention; Convention 100, or the Equal Renumeration Convention; Convention 105, or the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention; Convention 111, or Convention Converning Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation; Convention 138, or Minimum Age Convention; and Convention 182, or the Worst Forms of Child Labor.

 

The EU Trade (GSP+) Monitoring Report also stated that the current administration has made progress on labor rights, including improvement of awareness and implementation of labor and employment policies.

 

Head of EU Delegation Franz Jessen said the Philippines showed constructive engagement during the GSP+ mission in 2015 with open and frank discussions on human and labor rights.The EU Trade (GSP+) Monitoring Report has cited the Philippines for increased exports under its GSP+ program and the country’s progress in the implementation of human and labor rights conventions. It stated that the Philippines is making good progress on implementation of Conventions.

 

On 28 January, the European Commission adopted its first Generalized System of Preferences Monitoring report to the European Parliament and the Council, including an assessment of Philippines’ implementation of 27 International Conventions, on human rights, labor rights, environment, and governance.

 

Meanwhile, Baldoz also welcomed the Philippines’ six point surge in the global Economic Freedom Index, making the country’s economy the 70th freest in the world.

 

She said that the Philippines’ improvement in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom manifests the leadership of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III and his good governance agenda,” said Baldoz who also said she is challenged by the country’s slip in ranking in labor freedom, one of the 10 “freedoms’ component.

 

In the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom World Rankings released by the Heritage Foundation, the country’s score rose to 63.1 points out of a possible 100 and was deemed to be “moderately free”. In 2015, the Philippines scored 62.2 points to pace at 76th in the index.

 

The report attributed the successes of the Philippines in monetary freedom and management of public finance. It also highlighted the government’s legislative reforms which boosted the entrepreneurial environment and develop a more vibrant private sector.

 

In the report, the Heritage Foundation observed that “the Philippine economy has been growing steadily at an average annual rate of above six percent for the past five years.”

 

The report also stated that the government has pursued legislative reforms to enhance the entrepreneurial environment and develop a more vibrant private sector to generate broader-based job growth.

In labor freedom, the Philippines scored 57.1 with the report noting that “the labor market remains structurally rigid, although the existing regulations are not particularly burdensome.”

 

According to the Heritage Foundation, the labor freedom component is a quantitative measure that considers various aspects of the legal and regulatory framework of a country’s labor market, including regulations concerning minimum wages, laws inhibiting lay-offs, severance requirements, measurable regulatory restraints on hiring and hours worked.

 

There are six quantitative sub-factors weighted equally and counted as one-sixth of the labor freedom component. These are the following: (1) ratio of minimum wage to the average value added per worker; (2) hindrance to hiring additional workers; (3) rigidity of hours; (4) difficulty of firing redundant workers; (5) legally-mandated notice period; and (6) mandatory severance pay.

 

“I believe most of the factors in the labor freedom component have something to do with our labor laws which we are one with Congress and our tripartite partners  in trying to modernize through legislative reforms.  Thus, the DOLE accepts this as a challenge,” said Baldoz.

 

She said that under her watch, the DOLE, in  cooperation with its tripartite partners, has worked with Congress in passing the following measures into laws:

 

·         R.A. 10361, or the Kasambahay Law

·         R.A. 10151, or the Act of Allowing Night Workers

·         R.A. 10395, or the Tripartism Law

·         R.A. 10691, or the PESO Law

·         R.A. 10706, or the Seafarers Protection Act

·         R.A. 10741, an Act Strengthening the Operations of the  NLRC

·         R.A. 10022, An Act Amending Republic Act No. 8042, Otherwise Known As The Migrant Workers And Overseas Filipinos Act Of 1995

 

The pending House and Senate Bills which seeks to address the legal and regulatory barriers in the labor market are the SPES Bill; JobStart Bill; Apprenticeship Bill; Labor Law Compliance System Bill; Productivity Incentives Bill; and Green Jobs Bill.

 

The Economic Freedom Index measures 10 freedoms grouped into four categories as follows: rule of law (property rights and freedom from corruption); government size (fiscal freedom and government spending); regulatory efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, and monetary freedom); and open markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom).

 

The Index measures economic freedom based on 10 quantitative and qualitative factors grouped under four broad categories or pillars—rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets.

 

Based on an aggregated score, each of the 186 countries graded in the Index are classified as “free” (with a score of 80 or higher), “mostly free” (70-79.9), “moderately free” (60-69.9), “mostly unfree” (50-59.9), or “repressed” (under 50).

 

In the Asia-Pacific, the Philippines is the 14th freest among 42 countries, and its overall score is above the world (60.4) and regional averages (58.8).

 

The Economic Freedom Index is an annual guide published by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation that documents the positive relationship between economic freedom – the fundamental right of every human being to control his or her own labor and property – and a variety of positive social and economic goals.

END/CTM

 

 

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