DoLE rejects PNP request for workers’ clearance

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SAYING that it can do more harm than good, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has turned down a request by the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to make national police clearance (NPC) a requirement for various transactions at the labor department.

“While good-intentioned, requiring DoLE’s clientele to secure NPC to avail our services will do more harm than good.,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd in a letter dated May 4, 2021 to outgoing PNP Chief Debold Sinas.

“We are with the PNP in building a safer place for the Filipino. We can achieve this without adding burden to the transacting public and the people we serve,” Bello added.

Bello said results of a rapid survey among labor stakeholders showed that 94 percent of employers and workers were not in favor of making the NPC a requirement for DoLE transactions.

The labor chief also pointed out that the proposed NPC requirement is a form of “red tape” and added “financial burden” to the transacting public.

Bello also stressed that said proposal did not jibe with President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy as embodied in Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, and Executive Order 129.

“Further, there is no legal basis in requiring DoLE’s clientele to secure NPC. It may even violate pertinent provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Labor Code of the Philippines …. and other existing legislations,” Bello further said.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the country’s biggest labor group, had also written to Bello to reject the PNP chief’s proposal, saying that it is illegal as it violates the workers constitutional rights to self organization.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra explained that the matter is a “policy issue rather than a legal one” but stressed that the matter should be studied well first to ensure one’s constitutional rights are not violated.

“Although it’s not illegal per se to require a police clearance from certain public transactions, the question is — is it necessary for a particular type of transaction with DoLE.

“What purpose will it serve? Does it add to red tape? These are policy,not legal questions,” Guevarra pointed out in a viber message.

The group pointed out that requiring workers to present NPCs when they seek to register their unions with DoLE, or when they are petitioning for certification elections, or when they are submitting their collective bargaining agreements or seeking peaceful mediation or conciliation is not a purely ministerial act, but “a form of prior restraint, whose intent is clearly to intimidate and scare off workers from exercising their rights”.

“It will emasculate the exercise of labor rights and will make a mockery of the labor justice system,” said the TUCP.

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