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Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz issued on September 7, 2015 the Department Order No. 40-I-15 otherwise known as “Further Amending Department Order No. 40, Series of 2003, Amending the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Book V of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as Amended”.

D.O. 40-I-15 lays down the whole process and requirements for the Request for Sole and Exclusive Bargaining Agent (SEBA). It provides that the employers are by-stander in a Petition for Certification Election and limits their participation to: (1) being notified or informed of petitions of such nature; and (2) submitting the list of employees during pre-election conference should the Mediator-Arbiter act favorably on the petition.

It clarifies that Contract Bar Rule shall apply in one of the following: (1) when there exists an unexpired CBA; or (2) when there is no challenge on the representation status of the incumbent union during the freedom period.

Other key features of the D.O. 40-I-15 include provisions allowing online filing of Petition for Certification Election, specification for the period of eligibility of voters to three (3) months prior to the filing of petition/request, and stipulation that any member of a bargaining unit who is unintentionally omitted in the Master List of Voters may be allowed to vote, if both parties agree.

The Department Order provides that general reservation to file a protest shall be prohibited. It allows local chapter to submit a Certificate of Local Creation within five (5) days from the conclusion of election.

A Technical Working Group (TWG) comprised of representatives from the labor and employer sector was created for the drafting of the amendments to D.O. 40. Representatives from the labor sector were Atty. Alan F. Montano, Mr. Angel Dimalanta, Mr. Butch Pena and Mr. Daniel Edralin, while from the employer sector were Atty. Antonio Abad, Atty. Rene Soriano and Mr. Romeo Garcia.

Undersecretary Rebecca C. Chato (former BLR Director) initiated the discussion on the proposed amendments in the series of tripartite meetings. It proceeded under the directorship of Atty. Romeo M. Montefalco, Jr. and Atty. Benjo Santos M. Benavidez in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Series of Tripartite Executive Committee (TEC) meetings were also convened for the discussion of the issuance. On May 21, 2015, the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC) endorsed the D.O. for issuance by Secretary.

D.O. 40-I-15 will take effect fifteen (15) days after completion of its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

The DOLE issued the Order to reinforce the strategies in strengthening compliance and ensuring the protection and promotion of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of workers, and providing an enabling environment for the observance of the right to collective bargaining under the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan.