Legislated wage hike nixed

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MALACANANG prefers a wage increase set by the regional wage boards rather than a legislated adjustment.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said the wage board is the faster way for workers to get higher salaries compared to a legislated wage increase.

“Legislation is a long process and may necessarily delay benefits to our working force,” Fajardo said.

There is a pending bill at the House of Representatives for a P125 across the board wage increase. But even the chairman of the House labor committee is not keen on pushing the measure, admitting that legislation is a more tedious process.

Fajardo however said President Macapagal-Arroyo has already ordered the different wage boards to convene immediately and discuss petitions for another round of increase. The wage boards are also in the best position to determine the amount of wage increases depending on the situation in their respective areas, she said.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines has filed an P80 across-the-board wage increase in Metro Manila. Labor Secretary Arturo Brion, however, admitted that a new wage order may not be ready in time for the Labor Day celebration on May 1.

Lawmakers also say the legislative process is too slow.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara and Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza said the fastest way to raise the minimum wage is through the wage board and not Congress.

“Increase should be done through wage boards because it is faster, more objective and better researched,” Angara said.

The solon said legislation is very slow and time-consuming due to intense debates and lobbying.

Plaza shared the view of Angara, pointing out that the existing law provides that the regional wage boards settle the issue of salary increase.

“May wage board na mandated to review necessary wage adjustment. Let it function, not Congress. Kapag by legislation, bago maaprubahan sa dalawang Kamara, baka magkagulo na ang mundo,” Plaza said.