Aquino joins Tarlac sortie on Labor Day; talks with union leaders

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President Aquino. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III, bothered by cough and cold, took a rest on Labor Day in his hometown in Tarlac on Wednesday before joining a political rally and seeking another dialogue with disgruntled trade union leaders.

The President also tasked Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to seriously study the proposed additional exemption of minimum wage earners from income tax.

Mr. Aquino had coughing fits, apparently from a cold, in his recent public appearances. But he was well, taking medicines prescribed by doctors, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

After a dialogue with moderate labor leaders in Malacañang on Tuesday morning, the President had no labor-related meetings on Wednesday.

His only scheduled public appearance was a 4 p.m. rally with local leaders in Victoria town, Tarlac.

Mr. Aquino spent the night in Tarlac after visiting jobs fair in Tarlac City Tuesday afternoon.

The suggestion to schedule the President’s Labor Day activities a day earlier on April 30 came from the Department of Labor and Employment, Lacierda said.

He said the DOLE made the suggestion “weeks ago or a month ago.”

Mr. Aquino was not avoiding Labor Day rallies, he said.

The DOLE had arranged a Labor Day Skype conference for Mr. Aquino with Filipino migrant workers in Qatar from a jobs fair in Tarlac City.

Mylene Gomez, 28, was among the migrant workers who waited for two hours at a computer shop in Qatar for the chance to talk with Mr. Aquino.

But the President simply breezed through the booths at the fair in St. Michael’s Park and left without saying a word, disappointing 3,000 job-seekers who thought he was going to speak to them.

In Qatar, Gomez was also disappointed but told a reporter that she wished the President well and hoped he would continue supporting migrant workers like her.

“We know he is doing something for migrant workers. I hope he presses the effort, especially for our families in the Philippines,” Gomez said.

Mr. Aquino was seeking another dialogue with labor leaders after Tuesday’s formal talks and a more personal meeting in Malacañang so he could hear out their concerns, Lacierda said.

“When the President met with them [again], they had a better discussion,’’ he said, recalling that at least 17 labor leaders personally aired their concerns in the presence of several Cabinet officials at the second dialogue.

“One labor leader expressed [surprise] at the openness of the President and the Cabinet members. [T]hey were able to voice their concerns and the President was very open,’’ he said.

Cabinet officials continued the discussion after Mr. Aquino left for Tarlac for the job fair, and it was at this point that both sides agreed to hold another dialogue, Lacierda said.

“The commitment is that by the end of May, we will have another round of dialogue with the labor sector representatives,’’ he said.

It was during the dialogue that Mr. Aquino instructed Henares to prioritize the review of the proposed income tax exemptions for minimum wage earners, Lacierda said.

Henares confirmed the information, saying the exemption was a second priority for Mr. Aquino, after going after tax evaders.

The President announced nonwage benefits for the country’s workforce during the meeting. Labor leaders came out of the meeting dismayed and saying he did not respond to their demands.

Hearing about their grumbling, Mr. Aquino called them again to a no-holds barred discussion in a room in Malacañang and after listening to them, gave the order to Henares.

Since minimum wage earners bear the brunt of the expanded value-added tax, the tax should be imposed only on the amount earned in excess of their income, and not on their total income, Daniel Edralin of the Alliance of Progressive Labor proposed during the dialogue.

At present, the minimum wage is exempt from income tax, but income in excess of the minimum wage is subject to tax.

“The President tasked us to study it, and how we can do it without our tax collection suffering. If at all there will be tax consequence, and then there’s the issue of our credit rating,’’ Henares said. “We have to balance all of these concerns, and come up with a structure addressing all these.’’ With a report from Jo Martinez-Clemente, Inquirer Central Luzon

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  • Gloria Wheelchairroyo

    I can see Binay worst than GMA and Marcos if given the Presidency. Ngayon pa lang di nakaupo masgrabe na ginaga kaysa kina GMA at Marcos. Nakipagalyansa na sya sa 2 criminal at Plunderer na GMA at Erap para lamang manalo at lahat ng pamilya ay nakapwesto na sa gobyerno.
    Abusado, kurakot at mayabang. Adulterer at may anak pa sa labas, nakupo kung kaya nya lokohin sarili nyang asawa pano na kaya ang bansa.
    Kawawa naman ang bansa kapag nanalo kahit 1 sa UNArroyo party lalo na kung maging presidente si Binayrroyo.

  • Guest

    O ano ang sinasabi nilang tamad si Pnoy huh? Nagkakasakit na nga siya sa sobrang kasipagan.

  • Guest

    Ganyan talaga ang masisipag. Masipag si Presidente kaya tinatamaan din siya ng sakit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bart.thinong Bart Thinong

    Our lameduck President is helpless, no balls and inept regarding some true issues that our nation is facing nagtago, ang gusto puro boladas. at papogi a true color of TRAPO and BIMPO a lucost of our nation.

  • Guest

    Umangat nga ang ekonomiya, imposibleng walang trabahong nilikha ang Aquino administration.

  • speaksoftlylove

    PDI, bakit biglang walang balita tungkol sa eleksyon o mga senadores ngayon? News blackout o iwas pusoy kayo? Bakit hindi ninjyo ibinabalita yang scandal sa condominium ni Loren Legarda sa Manhattan, New York na nagkakahalaga ng 700 thousand dollars or almost 38 million?

    Legarda’s condo in USA was acquired in 2006. Not only that she undervalued it but declared it in her SALn ONLY in 2011. In other words she committed an illegal act from 2006 to 2010 by not declaring it in her SALn. Worse, she voted to impeach Corona when her own act is more heinous. Natakot siguro sa nangyari kay Corona so she decided to declare it in her 2011 but cluelessly exposing herself.

    Where did you get the money Legarda to buy such very expensive property in New York? This is the political prostitute that is leading the maufactured survey and the yellowvultures swore that she is incorruptible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erick.labandia Erick Labandia

    MARAMING PROBLEMA ANG ATING BANSA ANG INAATOPAG ANG PANGAMPANYA SA MGA CANDEDATO NYA D NALANG HINAYAAN ANG CAMPAIGN MANAGER NYA NGA MANGAMPANYA???ANG IBIG SABIHIN WALA KANG TIWALA PINOY KAY BABOY MONG DRILON NGA MAGING CAMPAIGN MANAGER BAKIT IKAW PA???SAMANTALANG MARAMING PROBLEMA ANG ATING BANSA TULAD NG MGA OFW SA SUADI ARABIA AT SA IBA PANG BANSA???D NA KAYO MANANALO SA DARATING NA MAY 13 ELECTION ANG MANANALO YAN ANG UNA SENATORYAL CANDEDATES HWAG NYONG SERAAN ANG UNA????

  • Ako_Hiking

    Another rally and more problems in the country for President Aquino…that could only mean one thing…Aquino will use his platform at another rally to blame his predecessor Gloria for the high unemployment even though the problems that the country is currently facing are in actuality his problems an his responsibility.

  • disqusted0fu

    Pnoy must be feeling a little sad now because the campaign season is about to end. Campaigning is the only thing that kept him really busy these past few months and it gave him an excuse to not function as the president of the country. Plus, it also gave him an opportunity to do more what he does best… bragging and also criticizing his political foes.

  • disqusted0fu

    “[T]hey were able to voice their concerns and the President was very open,’’

    It’s one thing to be open to labor concerns and it’s another to actually act on it. Unfortunately, Pnoy doesn’t do the latter. After the elections, Pnoy will be back to his true noynoying form.

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