By Armando Fenequito Jr.
DAVAO CITY – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is pushing for a wage rate increase in the rural areas to levels at par with urban rates and incentives to companies relocating their processing facilities in the provinces to ensure the success of the “Balik Probinsya” initiative of Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go.
MinDA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the recommendation was included in the Action Plan proposed by MinDA in a memorandum submitted to the Office of the President and Sen. Go in support of the “Balik Probinsya” program.
“Seriously, I cannot understand why rural workers should receive lower salaries than those who work in the cities,” he said.
“Personally, I see this discriminatory wage rates (whose Constitutionality could be challenged) as one of the reasons why many job seekers flock to the urban centers,” Piñol added.
He said that if the government will try to increase the wage rates and incentives for companies to establish processing facilities in the provinces, there will be a massive reverse migration to the rural areas.
Piñol said workers will be earning more because they can do food production activities on the side while processing companies will realize more profit because they no longer have to haul raw materials from the rural production areas to their factories.
He said MinDA also proposed that there should be an action plan supported by legislation to ensure the sustainability of the “Balik Probinsya” program considering the reality of “political shifting sands.“
“It was also recommended that legislation creating a National Commission which will handle and oversee the ‘Balik Probinsya’ program should be passed to institutionalize it,” he said.
Pending the passage of legislative action, Piñol said a Memorandum Order, or an Executive Order directing the preparation of a National Framework for the “Balik Probinsya” program and directing the cooperation of all agencies and sectors involved may be issued to jumpstart the process.
He added that MinDA may be tapped for the implementation of this directive for Mindanao as provided for under RA9996.
Go had earlier said that the whole government should learn from the lessons of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, and provide long-term solutions to stop the current public health emergency and contain the spread of the disease.
The proposal aims to resolve long-standing issues in urban areas, especially Metro Manila, which accelerates the spread of diseases due to highly-dense communities.