The government may use state powers to enforce a ruling compelling the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) to regularize more than 7,000 workers supplied by 35 of its contractors found to be engaged in illegal contracting practices.

This surfaced after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III issued a fresh order enjoining the telecom giant from circumventing the enforcement of the labor department’s January 10 decision for the regularization of the workers who have been performing the functions of regular employees.

“The government is not powerless against the most powerful,” Bello told the PLDT workers in a mandatory conference called to clarify the January decision. PLDT management did not attend the meeting.

In his latest order, Bello said PLDT’s actions in circumventing the DOLE decision were tantamount to contempt.

“Any act or condition imposed that frustrates or tends to frustrate the order to regularize is contumacious and shall be dealt with in accordance with law,” the order read.

It added that the regularization of 7,306 PLDT workers pursuant to the DOLE Resolutions of January and April 24 are now effective and executory “by operation of law, and is not subject to any conditions.”

The labor department’s ruling also mandated the payment of P51.6 million in unpaid benefits to the workers. The payment of such benefits is being facilitated by the DOLE NCR regional office.

The latest order was issued amid actions by PLDT in going around on regularizing the workers by requiring them to undergo the process of re-applying and screening.

“This is not the right action for PLDT because our decision is that all the 7,000 workers are already employees of PLDT. This is what we want to clarify with them, this is our order,” Bello said.

The labor chief further said that PLDT can appeal “as part of due process.”

“But our decision is already final and executory so we will consider any pleading irrelevant already,” Bello said, citing PLDT’s failure to get a reprieve from the courts.

Bello also revealed that some service providers are owned by PLDT officers and executives.

“We were informed that many of the service providers of PLDT were owned by their executives. This probably explains why they are trying to delay the proceedings and the order because it will cause loss of income on the part of their executives,” he said.

#Paul Ang

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