Temper clamor for wage increase due to economic slowdown — Roque

Published January 21, 2021, 2:46 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The proposed increase in the daily minimum wage should be balanced with the predicament of some businesses badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque recognized that some businesses have scaled down operations while others have closed shop as the pandemic has affected consumer activity.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Roque maintained that any wage hike proposal for workers would be reviewed and decided upon by the concerned regional wage board.

“Well, mayroon tayong batas dyan. Ang regional wage boards ang made-desisyon dyan. Puwede naman kahit sino ang mag-apply ng increase in the regional minimum wage if they want to (We have a law on that. The regional wage boards make the decision. Anyone can apply for an increase in the regional minimum wage if they want to),” he said during a televised press conference.

“Pero kinakailangan balansehin yan sa katotohanan na because of the pandemic, napakadami rin mga negosyong nahihirapan kung hindi tuluyan nang nagsara (But it must be balanced with the truth that because of the pandemic, many businesses are having difficulty, if not have shut down operations),” he added.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) earlier pushed for an increase in the minimum wage of workers in the face of rising prices of food and other basic commodities. The group reportedly intends to file a wage hike petition to help workers survive the high consumer prices while keeping health and nutrition during the pandemic.

“Everything has become more expensive but the government remains unmoved in wanting to help the workers survive,” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said in a statement Wednesday.

Amid reports of escalating consumer prices, Malacañang recently assured the public about the government’s measures to stabilize the supply and prices of pork, vegetables and other farm commodities.

Among the Department of Agriculture’s strategies are to boost the shipment of hogs from Visayas and Mindanao and other African Swine Fever-free areas in Luzon to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon as well as the sale of pork products by hog raisers in Kadiwa Ani and Kita markets and digital platform.

“Nag-i-import po sila ng baboy ngayon sa bansa na ASF-free at tinataasan po iyong volume ng pork imports the MAV o minimum access volume (They are also importing pork from ASF-free countries while the volume of pork imports or the minimum access volume would be be increased),” Roque said.

To help ease the price hikes of fruits and vegetables, Roque said the DA would strictly implement and monitor the suggested retail prices of food products as well as enhance vegetable and fruit production through urban agriculture. More vegetable and fruit processing facilities, warehouses, and cold storages will also be established.

Roque said the agriculture department would expand the production of aquaculture species such as tilapia, bangus and shrimp while sustaining a regulated importation region. Joint fishing schemes between commercial and municipal fishers would also be encouraged to increase fish supply.