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Legislated P750 minimum wage dims.

By Ben Rosario

Hopes for enacting a nation-wide P750 legislated mini-mum wage dimmed after the House of Representatives failed to approve even at the committee level a number of pending bills.

Bills proposing to raise the mini-mum pay for kasambahay or domestic workers, impose stiffer penalties for violation of the minimum wage law and the prohibition of impo-sition of surcharges and penalties on unpaid hospital bills of minimum wage earners have remained idle in the Com-mittee on Labor and Employment.

With less than 10 session days to go before the 17th Congress closes, the House panel chaired by Nueva Ecija Rep. Luis Lloren Cuaresma has yet to vote on the consolidation and approval of the pending bills, records of the House indicated.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he is not against a P700 minimum wage but emphasized it depends on the passage of a bill in Congress.

He said the wage increase being proposed by labor groups, includ-ing the proposal of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) to raise the minimum daily wage from P537 to P1,245, is being studied.

Bello underscored that they need to see first if employers can afford to give a salary hike to employees.

"Ang importante kasi is the viabil-ity of the business. Tataasan mo nga ng sweldo pero magbabawas naman ng mga empleyado, eh di sayang din yung mga empleyadong mawawalan ng trabaho (The viability of the busi-ness is an important factor. You may increase the salary but some workers would have to be laid off)," he said.

Representatives Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis), Sandy Ocampo (NPC, Manila) and Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna) still believe Congress can approve a legislative minimum wage measure that is based on socio-economic indicators and the prevail-ing poverty threshold.

Casilao and Zarate are members of the Makabayan bloc that has filed House Bill (HB) 7787 that proposes a P750 national minimum wage for pri-vate workers, and HB 7196 that sets the monthly basic pay of government workers at P16,000.

"We support other initiatives like petitioning for P750 or even the amount of P700 as long as it gives substantial economic relief to our workers and their families," said Casilao.

For Ocampo, legislative proposals seeking to increase the minimum pay should be re-filed if Congress fails to pass them.

"We can't keep our workers strug-gling with the challenges of life work-ing for a pittance. Our daily minimum workers live so bereft of any comforts of life," Ocampo said.

Other wage-related measures pending at the Committee on Labor and Employment are HB 0356 and 7805 authored by former Rep. Em-meline Aglipay and incumbent TUCP Party-list Rep. Raymund Democrito Mendoza, respectively.

Reps. John Marvin "Yul Servo" Nieto (NP, Manila), Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (PDP-Laban, Bulacan); and Johnny Pimentel (PDP-Laban, Su-rigao del Sur) filed separate propos-als for adjustment of the minimum wage for domestic workers.

On the other hand, Reps. Ricky Sandoval (PDP-Laban, Malabon), Dale Malapitan (NP, Caloocan City), Emi G. Calixto-Rubiano (NP, Pasay City), Eric Martinez (PDP-Laban, Valenzuela City) and Lorna Silverio (NPC, Bulacan) have authored bills seeking to prohibit the imposition of interest or penalty charges on unpaid hospital bills of patients who are minimum wage earners.

Protect the rights of workers

In his Labor Day message, Presi-dent Duterte called on Congress to pass measures that will protect the rights of Filipino workers to security of tenure and self-organization and put an end to the practice of end of contract or "endo" and illegal con-tractualization.

The President recognized that the nation's strength has always de-pended on the hard work, grit, and perseverance of the labor force.

"Every year, we set aside this day to celebrate their valuable con-tributions not only in the struggle to provide a better life for our people but in building the foundations of a more promising future for succeed-ing generations," he said.

The President lamented that despite the annual observance and efforts to help them, the lives and working conditions of laborers seem to have not improved.

"It is unfortunate, however, that despite this yearly observance, the plight of our workers, especially those who choose to leave their families so they may earn better compensation abroad, remains the same," Duterte said.

"This is why my administration has implemented measures within its powers to afford full protection to labor and promote equal work op-portunities for all," he added.

Duterte called on Congress to do its part, noting that he already did what he could by issuing last year Executive Order No. 51 which imple-ments existing constitutional and statutory provisions against illegal contracting.

End contractualization

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday renewed her call to end "endo" or contractualiza-tion in the country.

In her short message, Vice Presi-dent Leni Robredo urged Filipinos to unite in the call to stop the contract employment scheme, which she has campaigned for even before she as-sumed the vice presidency.

"Ngayong Mayo Uno, magkaisa tayo na wakasan na ang endo at kontraktuwalisasyon (Today, May 1, let us unite to end endo and con-tractualization)," Robredo tweeted. (With reports from Analou de Vera, Argyll B. Geducos, and Raymund F. Antonio)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:May 1, 2019
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