DAVAO CITY—From the day she took power in 2001 until she will step down in June, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo failed to act on the workers’ decade-long demand for a legislated P125 across-the-board wage increase, Romualdo Basilio, secretary- general of Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao, said.
Instead, Basilio said, Arroyo carried out policies to the detriment of workers.
Workers in the region said they want to get rid of Arroyo as soon as she will end her term in June for failing to grant the workers’ clamor for just wages and for carrying out policies that only worsened the worker’s conditions through the years.
Basilio said the labor group has been calling for a legislated 125-peso across the board wage for years.
“Our government officials did not tackle the 125-peso-wage increase bill because they are busy trying to win the elections,” said Basilio, who also serves as coordinator of Anakpawis Partylist.
He said the prevailing minimum wage in the Davao Region is only pegged at 265 pesos, which is only fifty per cent of the amount that will enable workers to cope with the prevailing cost of living in the region.
Since the 11th Congress, the partylist group Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) has been pushing for House Bill 1722, or an Act providing for a Legislated 125-peso across-the-board wage increase for all workers in the private sector. The Bill, also known as the Beltran Bill, after the late labor leader and Anakpawis Partylist Representative Crispin Beltran who pushed for the bill in Congress, sought to legislate wage increase to allow prevailing workers wages cope with the rising prices of commodities nine years ago.
In the 13th Congress, the bill was consolidated with the bill filed by Zamboanga Rep. Roseller Barinaga, the chair of the House committee on labor and employment.
Liza Maza, representative of Gabriela partylist, said in the consolidated bill, known as HB 345, earned the support of 50 colleagues in the Congress; and after lobbying and the mobilization of workers, was passed in the third reading in the plenary session.
“However, after employers and big business groups appealed to President Arroyo and to Congress to recall the passage of this bill, the bill wasn’t immediately transmitted to the Senate. Months later, it was recalled without basis,” Maza said.