MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3) Workers in Metro Manila and in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) will get a P20 wage increase, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Regional Tripartite Wage Board announced Thursday.
Arroyo also announced that the wage board in Region 10 agreed to grant workers in the private sector in Northern Mindanao an additional P12 to their present P16 cost of living allowance (COLA) and which would be integrated into their minimum wage.
This will raise the basic salary in Northern Mindanao to P234 per day, Arroyo said.
Arroyo made the announcement during the 29th National Conference of Employers at the Manila Hotel.
But Arroyo said the NCR wage board would still have to decide whether the entire amount would be added to the present minimum wage or whether P15 would go to the pay adjustment and P5 to the cost of living allowance.
?Last night Nitoy Roque reported to me that as a result of the discussions initiated on Labor Day, the NCR wage board has come to some agreement, which will be refined further today [Thursday] in a meeting, ongoing, and that was why ... The agreement they have come to is P20 added to the minimum wage. The refinement to be determined today is whether it will be P15 minimum wage addition plus P5 COLA [cost of living allowance] or P20 minimum wage addition,? Arroyo said.
?Nitoy? Roque is Labor Secretary Marianito Roque.
In a radio interview, Ciriaco Lagunsad of the Department of Labor and Employment neither confirmed nor denied Arroyo?s announcement but said the NCR wage board might make a formal statement Friday.
Earlier on Thursday, Lagunsad and the RTWPB in Calabarzon announced separately a similar increase for its workers and would take effect in 15 days.
Through Wage Order No. IVA-13, the RTWPB said the highest basic pay would be P320 for the non-agriculture sector.
"Thank you to the wage boards who have finished their work and we look forward to the wage boards in the other regions," she said.
Arroyo vowed that the government would continue to pursue non-wage benefits for the workers to ease their burden from the high prices of food and oil.
She also thanked the House of Representatives for passing on third reading the bill exempting minimum wage earners from paying income tax.
"It's a beautiful bill. ? I hope the Senate will pass its own version. I heard they have a different version but still a good version ? I hope it's something that will be good for the employers and the workers," she said.
Arroyo enjoined all employers to work with the government and labor and continue pushing for empowerment of the workplace, saying an empowered workplace results in a return on investments for all.
In a statement, Ricardo S. Martinez, Sr., chairman of the wage board and regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), said the Calabarzon board acted on the issue of pay adjustment in the region, although it received a petition for an increase from the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Laguna (NLML) asking for a similar raise to the current minimum wage in the National Capital Region.
Martinez said that although the most recent wage order was issued seven months ago, the board still found the need to provide an increase to the current minimum wage levels.
He said the board saw the need to provide relief in the cost of living of the workers and employees in the private sector "without impairing the viability and competitiveness of business, creation of more jobs and the preservation of the existing [ones]."
"The board has considered the increases in the prices of products and services, brought about by shortages in supply, high importation costs, and upward trend in world market prices," Martinez said.
The board also gave provision on exemption/deferment for establishments that are newly registered, financially distressed, and where exporters were greatly affected by the volatility of the peso-dollar exchange rate.
Soaring prices of rice, the national staple, and petroleum products which are at all-time highs sparked transport strikes in Manila and other urban centers around the country on Monday.
The Philippines, one of the world's largest rice importers, is also struggling to fill the domestic production gap of 2.7 million tons this year after rice exporters began curbing overseas shipments to stabilize domestic prices.
Philippine inflation surged to a three year-high 8.3 percent in April.