Gov’t urged to buy locally manufactured vehicles

Published October 20, 2020, 8:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA), a union of automotive, electronics, steel and iron steel workers, has urged the government to mandate agencies to purchase locally manufactured vehicles and raise local component requirement to 100 percent from 40 percent and control entry of imported cars to support the state-sponsored Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program to preserve industry jobs.

In its “Workers Position on COVID-19 and CARS Program” position paper submitted to the Bureau of Labor Relations of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the PMA stressed their unwavering support to the domestic automotive industry by preserving the objectives of the CARS program.

To ensure the success of CARS, PMA urged the government to “enact a law that will support the procurement of locally manufactured vehicles when using taxpayer’s money.”

 Likewise, the group has called for the increase in the local component of locally manufactured vehicles from 40 percent to 100 percent. The government was also urged to study which specific vehicle component should be locally produced.

 PMA has also vowed its support for the Department of Trade and Industry to pursue the safeguard measure investigation of the proliferation of imported cars vis-à-vis the dwindling domestic vehicle production.

The position paper signed by PMA President Ruel Punzalan has also emphasized the observance of human and labor rights in the automotive sector not just on the security of tenure and right to freedom of association in any incentive-driven program of the government in the automotive sector and its supply chain.

On COVID-19 responses, PMA has urged for support to micro small and medium enterprises for a one-time grant of P500,000 provided they retain their employees. They also called for wage subsidy of 75 percent of basic salary cost of rank and file employees of MSMEs regardless of status. Said wage subsidy should not exceed P15,000 and should be enjoyed up to 10 months.

PMA, which groups 5,000 direct workers from the automotive, electronics, iron and steel sector, has called for the crafting of soft loans for MSMEs that would like to pivot to new business models for use for their recurring costs such as payrolls, leases, rentals and utilities.

In addition, PMA has urged for the implementation of wealth tax equivalent to one percent levied on savings, securities and equities to be consistent with President Duterte’s anti-oligarchy rhetoric.

PMA has estimated a potential generation of P300 billion annually from the proposed wealth tax, which can be used to finance COVID-19 recovery program.

Finally, the labor union said they support COVID-19 economic recovery program that focuses on preservation of jobs and labor rights as presented in the labor agenda of the NAGKAISA labor coalition.