Court issues status quo order on Bohol wage increase

By Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY — Workers in Bohol province will have to wait a little longer before they can enjoy the recently approved wage increase in Central Visayas that took effect January 5.

Minimum wage earners in Bohol were supposed to get a P28-increase daily but Presiding Judge Jorge D. Cabalit of the Regional Trial Court of Bohol (Branch 48) ordered the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board VII and the Department of Labor and Employment, regional and Bohol field offices to hold the implementation of Wage Order No. ROVII-22.

“The parties are directed to maintain the status quo at the time of the filing of this case,” Cabalit said in his January 3 order.

A hearing will be held on January 8 to determine whether or not the court will issue a writ of preliminary injunction.

Cabalit’s order stemmed from the petition filed by business groups Bohol Island of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and Industry and the Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants (BAHHR) Inc. which questioned the basis of the reclassification of Tagbilaran City from Class to C to Class B.

In Class B cities and towns, minimum wage earners in the non-agriculture sector and establishments with less than 10 workers will get an adjustment of P18 to P28 while workers in the agriculture sector will receive P33 to P48 increase.

The new minimum wage for workers in the non-agriculture sector in these areas will be P366 a day, while workers in the agriculture sector and establishments with less than 10 employees should get at least P361 a day.

In Class C areas, workers in the non-agriculture sector will get an increase of P8 to P33, or P356 a day.

The petitioners clarified they are not against the wage adjustment but are only questioning the reclassification of Tagbilaran.

“Reclassification of Tagbilaran City from Class C to becoming Class B, is rather new to the Boholanos, which puzzled the Boholano business community and confuses even the City Government of Tagbilaran, Bohol, as they themselves have no knowledge of such change of category,” the petition read.

The petitioners said the reclassification was not discussed in a public hearing conducted last October 11 2019.

“That if such re-classification and removal of Class D in the new wage order were only discussed during the above-narrated public hearing, Petitioners and the Boholano business community might have been enlightened as to the basis of the same and possibly raised their concerns and objections/oppositions which would have guided Second Respondent in the issuance of a new wage order,” the petitioners added.

“The new wage order of P28 for Tagbilaran City and Dumaguete City vis-à-vis the P18 increase in Cebu, proves that the board reviewing the salaries in Region 7, do not know by heart, the economic landscape and activities in the cities and municipalities in this region,” it added.

The petitioners said that the P28 salary increase in Tagbilaran City “would deter the growth of the micro enterprises, and would cause downsizing on the side of the large ones, and would definitely result to the surging of unemployment, displacement of workers in the province and in Region VII.”