Solons back hearing on minimum wage bills, but could be too late to pass law

 Solons back hearing on minimum wage bills, but could be too late to pass law
PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

MEMBERS of the House of Representatives expressed support to a committee’s plan to hold hearings this week on several bills that seek to raise the minimum wage rate, but they are not too optimistic that a consolidated measure will be passed before the current Congress closes.  

“We are happy that the Committee on Labor and Employment sees the importance of tackling House Bill (HB) 541 together with other similar measures,” Magsasaka Party-list Rep. Argel T. Cabatbat said in a Viber message.  

“With the onslaught of the pandemic and the skyrocketing oil prices brought about by the Ukraine-Russian conflict, the government must take necessary actions to address the declining purchasing power of its citizens,” he said.   

“We urge our Senate counterparts to see the same necessity,” he added. 

DIWA Party-list Rep. Michael Edgar Y. Aglipay, however, said it is too late to go through the legislative process and get the bill ratified before the 18th Congress ends. 

“Sadly, this was last tackled 1st quarter of 2020 and I have been fighting for this salary determination by one entity (the National Wages and Productivity Commission or NWPC) and correspondingly abolish regional wage boards because it has become inutile and anti-labor already,” Mr. Aglipay said in a separate Viber message.   

“Two years have been wasted to pass this bill and I think there will be not enough time to pass this into law because Congress will be open for only two weeks after May 27,” he said. 

1-PACMAN Party-list Rep. Enrico A. Pineda, who chairs the labor and employment committee, announced Friday that it will hold meetings this week on HB 246, 276, 541, 668, 2878, 668, 2878, 6752, which all relate to wages or amendments in the Philippine Labor Code.  

“We will open deliberations once again also so that we can have some discussions on the feasibility of raising minimum wage through the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC),” Mr. Pineda said in a statement.   

He said “all stakeholders will be invited,” including representatives from the labor and management sectors.  

Under the current wage system, minimum rates are set per region through a wage board and subject to approval by NWPC, an agency under the Department of Labor and Employment.  

Among the proposed measures is implementing a nationwide minimum wage rate.  

There are currently pending petitions for wage rate increases at the regional boards. — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan