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Senate panel approves P150 across-the-board wage hike bill ‘in principle’

The Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources on Wednesday approved “in principle” a bill which seeks to increase the minimum wage by P150 for the entire country, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said.

“In principle, the Senate Committee on Labor has already approved our Across-the-Board Wage Increase Act, and a Technical Working Group (TWG) is set to discuss a proposed graduated wage increase scheme for our MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises),” Zubiri said.

“We expect that the Committee Report will come out in about two weeks, and we hope to pass the bill before we adjourn in June,” the Senate president said.

The Senate labor penal, on Wednesday, held a hearing for various bills regarding a proposed minimum wage increase, including Zubiri’s Senate Bill No. 2022, or the Across-the-board Wage Increase Act, which proposes a P150 wage hike for all private sector workers across the country.

The Senate president said that the last legislated minimum wage increase was in 1989, at P89, before the passage of the Republic Act 6727, which created the Regional Wage Boards.

“Ang nakita po natin, with due respect sa ating Regional Wage Boards, napakababa po ng mga increase nila at napakatagal bago nila aksyunan ang problema ng pagtaas ng bilihin, at ang sigaw ng tao para sa disente man lang na sahod. Kapag umaaksyon naman sila, napakababa ng increase, between P5.00 to P16.00 lang,” Zubiri said.

(What we've seen, with due respect to our Regional Wage Boards, such low increases and a long time before they take action on increasing costs and the public's cry for a decent wage. And when they take action, the increase is so small, only between P5.00 and P16.00.)

To dismiss concerns that wage hikes would scare away foreign investments, the Senate president cited the minimum wage figures in the Southeast Asian region: Indonesia’s minimum wage is equivalent to P842.00 a day, Malaysia’s is P854.00 a day, and Singapore’s is P2,486.00 a day.

Only Vietnam has a lower minimum wage, equivalent to P511 a day.

“Wala po silang kaltas sa PAG-IBIG, sa PhilHealth, sa SSS. Dito, ang naiiwan sa ating mga kababayan mula P570.00 ay P525.00 na take-home. Pang-Metro Manila lang ‘yan. Hindi pa natin pinag-uusapan sa Bukidnon, sa Mindanao,” Zubiri said.

(They don't have deductions for PAG-IBIG, PhilHealth, SSS. Here, what is left for Filipinos to take home is from P570.00 is P525.00. And that's only in Metro Manila. We're not talking about what they take home in Bukidnon, in Mindanao.] 

In northern Mindanao, the minimum wage is at P390.00 for non-agricultural, and P378.00 for agricultural.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which has the lowest wages in the country, the minimum wage is at P316.00 for non-agricultural and P306.00 for agricultural.

“I would like to remind everybody that we already reached a 7.6% GDP growth rate, one of our highest since 1976,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri also said that since many businesses have recouped from the pandemic and are back to making pre-pandemic income, it is now time to share their income with their workers.

The Senate president said that legislators have helped businesses to recover from the pandemic.

In 2021, the Congress passed the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE Act), which brought down Corporate Income Tax from 30% to 25%.

“Those were pro-business measures. Ngayon ang akala po namin, dahil may mas malaki po kayong income, sana ay maibahagi niyo po ito sa ating mga kababayan [Now that we have a larger income, it is to be hoped that you share this with our countrymen and women]. It’s about time that we share. Tinulungan po namin ang business sector with pro-business legislation. Ngayon itaas naman po natin ang sweldo [We helped the business sector with pro-business legislation. Now let's increase salaries],” Zubiri said. — BM, GMA Integrated News