(TRIBUNE) The bill seeking an additional P100 in the daily minimum wage of workers in the private sector reached the Senate plenary on Wednesday, with several lawmakers expressing strong support for the passage of the proposed measure.
Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri urged his colleagues to support the passage of Senate Bill 2534, or the P100 Daily Minimum Wage Increase Act of 2023, noting that the legislation is a vital step to recognizing the worth of economic workers in the country.
“It‘s time to push for the benefits of the labor sector. (They) are the foundation of our society, and they have the right to earn a decent wage, to have a decent life. Let us make this a statement of the Senate, an action of the Senate for our people,” Zubiri said.
At present, the daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region is P610.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, sponsored SB 2534 before the plenary.
Once enacted, the measure would “guarantee an increased daily pay for around 4.2 million minimum wage earners.”
The bill is pushing for an adjusted wage hike from P150 to P100 following the regional wage boards’ hiking of minimum daily wage rates from P30 to P89.
“The Senate’s effort to legislate an increase in minimum wages augments the wage increases already issued by the regional wage boards,” Estrada said.
The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board issued wage orders last year increasing the minimum wage of employees in Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, SOCCSKSARGEN and Central Visayas, among others.
Senator Pia Cayetano, for her part, said the advancement of a certain country can be determined by how its government treats the most vulnerable in their society.
“So when we look at families who can’t even feed their children three meals a day, who struggle to put literally a roof over the head where they live in shanties… when we take time dealing with political issues, It takes time away from dealing with the poorest of the poor who need our support to live a decent life,” she noted as she co-sponsored the measure.
“I joined our colleagues in co-sponsoring this very important measure. It may not seem like a lot because it is really not that much but I believe it paves the way in us recognizing that this cannot continue as it is,” Cayetano added.
Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa pressed the need for the government to address the inflation problem with urgency. Hence, he said, the enactment of SB 2534 would ease the financial burden of several Filipinos facing financial difficulties.
“It gives me great honor and pride to take part in furthering this noble cause of directly aiding our countrymen’s lives through a legislated wage increase. This undertaking will somehow ease the financial burden of several of our people who continue to make ends meet,” Dela Rosa said.
“I am very fortunate to belong to an institution that has always been sensitive to the plight of the ordinary Filipino. The Senate, through this legislation, has committed itself to not only decrease the suffering of our people but also end it,” he added.
Senator Loren Legarda, who also co-sponsored the bill, said the government should not ignore the plight of the workers.
“We must not tolerate inequality and poverty. This is why we must pass this measure,” she said.
Legarda also said the measure would give workers a chance “to be more productive, to pay more taxes, to spend more in our economy, and to be able to live a life that they deserve.”
“They are the ones carrying this economy and we must protect them at all costs,” she added.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said the proposed wage increase serves as a positive step toward fulfilling the Constitution’s mandate to guarantee sufficient living wages to all Filipino workers.
“I thank our Senate President Migz Zubiri, the principal author of the measure, and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the chair of the Committee on Labor, for tackling the proposed measure that will increase the wages of our hardworking workers,” he said.