“As hardworking Filipinos who struggle to support our families through honorable means, we deserve no less than wages and salaries that would afford us humane living conditions. We say enough of the Duterte government’s neglect of our plight.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Workers from the public and private sectors joined forces as they once again push for national minimum wage on Friday, April 26.
Workers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT), Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Workers (COURAGE) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) joined forces to demand for P750 ($14) per day minimum wage or P16,000 ($307) a month.
“We, working Filipinos who depend on wages and salaries for our families’ sustenance, call on the Duterte administration to decisively effect substantial pay hike for all workers and employees in the public and private sectors, regularly-employed and under contracts alike,” the group said in a statement.
They added that salary hike is “the only meaningful way for the government to commemorate the International Labor Day on May 1—honor the men and women from whose labor, skills, and talent our economy rests upon by addressing their dire economic situation.”
They lamented that workers have been enduring depressed wages for decades through wage regionalization. They slammed the gap of the minimum wage in the different regions compared with the National Capital Region (NCR).
Workers in the regions suffer the most with only P256 ($5) minimum wage in Region 1 while in NCR, minimum wage is pegged at P537 ($10).
Meanwhile, rank and file employees in the government sector receive P11,068 ($213) or P503 ($10) per day which is lower than the present minimum wage. They also decried the huge salary increase of uniformed personnel. In 2017, Duterte approved the salary increase of the military and the police, increasing the entry-level salary to P30,000 ($576) a month. This is higher than the entry-level salary of teachers and nurses in the public sector who receive less than P21,000. ($403).
“The move only served to distort further the already skewed salary scheme in government, leaving the great majority of civilian employees struggling with less than decent salary levels while top officials bask on scandalous pay levels, like the President himself who gets more than P400,000 ($7,684) per month,” the group said.
The AHW national president also said that there are health workers who chose to stay in the country because they are committed to serve their countrymen. However, the government continues to be deaf to their long time call for substantial salary increase; what’s worse is that they are being red-tagged.
“Health workers serve wholeheartedly. We stay in our jobs despite low salaries. We only want to serve our countrymen who are in need. In return, this administration does not give what we need. What’s worse, they suppress our rights especially our freedom of expression and tag us as leftists, which is a baseless accusation,” Mendoza said.
‘Poverty, hunger incidence decreased?’
ACT national president Joselyn Martinez meanwhile slammed the recent survey of the Social Weather Stations showing a supposedly drop in the hunger incidence among Filipinos.
The SWS survey showed that the hunger incidence among Filipinos dropped in 2019, from 10.5 percent in the last quarter of 2018 to 9.5 percent in the first quarter of 2019.
“Hunger and poverty are real, as evidenced by the deafening grumbling of our families’ stomachs. And the government ought to listen to our plight, instead of priding itself to complacency with these data,” said Martinez.
She also hit National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)’s data showing a decrease in poverty incidence in 2018. Martinez pointed out that in that year; inflation rate is at record high at 6.7 percent, the highest in over nine years.
“For instance, NEDA cites that poverty incidence for the first half of 2018 decreased by 16.1 percent for Filipino families and 21 percent for individuals compared to three years prior. NEDA interestingly fails to mention that the latter part of 2018 saw a record high inflation rate,” she said.
She said, the Duterte government’s pronouncement that the country is on track in its campaign to end poverty is “at best far-fetched and at worst a gross and deliberate misrepresentation of the country’s economic situation.”
Martinez said Filipinos are living in worse condition under Duterte especially with the additional taxes caused by the implementation of Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Law (Train Law) which eroded the value of workers’ salaries.
“As hardworking Filipinos who struggle to support our families through honorable means, we deserve no less than wages and salaries that would afford us humane living conditions. We say enough of the Duterte government’s neglect of our plight,” the group said who will be once again on the streets on May 1.