Pacquiao backs campaign for P125-wage hike
MANILA, Philippines—The working class has found a new poster boy—ironically—in the richest man in the House of Representatives.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno headquarters in Project 3, Quezon City, saw a well-attended “rally” Tuesday afternoon as Sarangani Representative and boxing champ Manny Pacquiao dropped in to announce his support for the P125 across-the-board wage hike for private-sector workers.
Pacquiao has co-authored House Bill 375 on the wage hike, whose main author is labor group Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano.
Other co-authors of the bill are all of cause-oriented party lists: Bayan Muna’s Teodoro Casiño and Neri Javier Colmenares, Gabriela women’s Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus, Kabataan’s Raymond Palatino and Act Teacher’s Antonio Tinio.
“Ako, basta kapakanan ng Pilipino at sa mahihirap, kailangan natin tulungan at suportahan. Hindi ako pumipili ng taong susuportahan, basta nangangailangan ng tulong,” (As long as it’s for Filipinos and for the poor, we need to help and support it. I don’t choose whom I help, as long as they need me,”) Pacquiao said, when asked if he was prepared to face criticisms from big businesses opposing the draft measure.
Mariano admitted Pacquiao and he made strange bedfellows. “We’re on opposite ends: He’s the richest representative, and I’m the poorest,” but the Anakpawis representative knew Pacquiao would be sympathetic to their cause.
“He came from the living conditions of the working class. While he may be rich now, he has made it clear for which class he stands for. And who should he help, those who are already rich, or those who are poor?” Mariano pointed out, in Filipino.
“Granting a significant, legislated wage increase is a concrete step to uplift the situation and condition of ordinary wage and salary earners,” Mariano said, adding that the recent P22 increase in the cost of living allowance (COLA) would only be nullified by increasing costs of basic services.
Kilusang Mayo Uno chairman Elmer “Bong” Labog expressed his delight having Pacquiao “ready to rumble” on their side of the ring. Aside from Pacquiao’s popularity being put to good use in campaigning for higher wages, “Manny has also long been the idol of our chairperson emeritus Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran who, like the Filipino workers and people, always watched his fights and rejoiced whenever he prevailed over his opponents,” Labog said in a statement.
At Tuesday’s press conference, KMU staff, as well as residents of Project 3, couldn’t help but hound the boxer and lawmaker for photo ops.
Mariano revealed they were expecting more legislators from the House to sign on to his bill. “We’re aiming for ‘125 [representatives] for 125,’” he quipped. He was confident his bill would get the support of those from previous Congresses who had passed it.