Aquino sees wage hike for Metro Manila, Visayas

Published by rudy Date posted on May 1, 2011

MANILA (Updated 1:32 p.m.) — President Benigno Aquino III urged the regional tripartite wage board on Sunday to fast-track the deliberations on proposed wage increase so that all regions will benefit from it next month.

The President, in an ambush interview following a breakfast meeting with labor groups, said there will most likely be an adjustment in the minimum wage for workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) next week and for the Eastern and Western Visayas within the month.

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“In NCR, there is already a supervening event that takes care of the one-year moratorium. So, after the public hearing, we expect that by next week, there will be a wage order for the NCR,” he said.

He said the wage boards also determined supervening events in Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas that warranted the adjustment.

“We assume that what has happened in the NCR and Regions 6 (Western Visayas) and 8 (Eastern Visayas) also happens in other regions, so we will be pressing the wage boards to finalize everything within the month,” Aquino said.

The President was pressed by various groups to act on minimum wage increase but his communications group repeatedly tossed the matter to the respective wage boards.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda earlier said Aquino will announce “good news” for state and private workers on Labor Day.

Salary increase for state workers

As for state workers, President Aquino bared an early release of the third tranche of their salary increase.

The increase will be released in June, a month earlier than scheduled under the Salary Standardization Law 3.

The government allocates P22.25 billion for the salary adjustment where P2.8 billion of it will come from government savings from personnel expenditures.

Rice subsidy for farmers

Aquino said small-scale farmers and fisherfolks will also receive rice subsidies totaling P4.23 billion.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad explained that this is an old program but the Aquino administration just wants to “accelerate its implementation.”

“We focus on the sector vulnerable to increases in the fuel prices as well as the subsequent increases in food prices,” he said.

President Aquino, meanwhile, said the government will have a separate budget of P2 billion “input” subsidy for farmers – the counterpart of Pantawid Pasada program for public utility jeepneys and tricycles.

He said farmers will get seeds, pesticides and equipment instead of fuel discounts.

The government is now finalizing the implementing rules and regulation for this, he added.

Some P2 billion has been earmarked for the program. It will be sourced from the Department of Agriculture.

More jobs

In addition to the “good news”, Aquino shared that at least a million jobs will be made available through the Community-Based Employment Program for infrastructure projects, while 80,000 jobs will be opened under the Special Program for Employment of Students (Spes).

Aquino ordered an additional P168.1 million budget for the Spes that will come from the Budget and Labor departments.

He also announced the government’s launching of an online labor market information service that will guide students in deciding what course to take.

To hear the sentiments of labor groups, the President said he would want to hold a “quarterly” forum with the labor sectors.

The breakfast forum Sunday was attended by 21 labor groups, including the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Alliance of Workers in the Informal Economy/Sector, Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines, Federation of Free Workers, and Alliance of Filipino Workers, among others. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)

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