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Labor sector pushes back against proposal to restructure Duty Free PHL

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

A RETRENCHMENT PLAN for Duty Free Philippines Corp. (DFPC) runs counter to a government pledge to raise employment in the tourism industry over the next five years, a labor group said.

“The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) is committed to supporting initiatives to generate jobs from tourism,” FFW President Jose G. Matula said in a Viber message.

“To protect jobs in the industry, FFW urgently calls on the government to halt the ongoing downsizing plan and worker retrenchment within DFPC.”

In March, DFPC released the implementing rules and regulations for its rightsizing plan, which the FFW said could lead to the retrenchment of over 700 rank-and-file employees.

The retrenchment plan is authorized by Republic Act 10149 or the Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporation Governance Act of 2011.

DFPC had not replied to a request for comment at the deadline.

Mr. Matula said the government should ensure security of tenure for government employees in the tourism industry.

“The government should avoid any unnecessary terminations and explore alternative measures such as retention, redeployment, and performance evaluations to ensure the workforce remains intact and productive,” he said.

The Department of Tourism (DoT) hopes to generate 34.7 million tourism-related jobs and take in 51.9 million international arrivals by 2028, according to the recently approved National Tourism Development Plan.

Last week, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. approved the plan, which aims to establish a tourism industry “anchored on Filipino culture, heritage and identity which aims to be sustainable, resilient and competitive in order to transform the country as a tourism powerhouse.”

Jose Enrique A. Africa, executive director of the think tank IBON Foundation, said the government should also consider workers’ rights as well as tourism’s impact on the environment and local communities.

“We’d also be concerned about the obsession with metrics for tourism success like investment, revenue and visitors yet heedless of the economic rights of workers in the industry,” he said in a Viber message.

“An industrialized economy is the only real and sustainable source of economic dynamism and strength for the Philippines.”

The government should look to the modernization of agriculture and industrialization in fostering development and job creation, Mr. Africa added.

This year, the DoT aims to attract 4.8 million international tourists and set a revenue target of P316 billion from foreign tourist spending. The revenue goal for domestic tourist spending is P1.93 trillion.

The Philippines has logged 2.029 million international visitors and P168.5 billion in visitor receipts in the four months to April, according to the Tourism department.

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