Garin on P350 wage hike: Opening PH to foreign investments needed first

Garin on P350 wage hike: Opening PH to foreign investments needed first

/ 12:32 PM February 20, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — Increasing daily minimum wages by up to P350 will be possible once the country is opened to foreign investments, Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin said.

In a statement on Monday, Garin argued that the Senate-approved P100 increase to the daily minimum wages of private sector workers may not be enough to cope with expenses, suggesting that a P350 across-the-board hike might help employees more.

However, Garin said the question is how this could be made possible, which she thinks would be by making the Philippines “investor-friendly.”


“Ang tanong dun solusyon ba na magtaas lamang ng suweldo or ang solusyon ay gawing investor-friendly ang Pilipinas. Buksan natin ang ating bansa sa mga foreign investor para maging posible ang pagtaas ng suweldo ng mga minimum wage earner,” Garin said.


(Is increasing salaries a solution, or is the real solution to make the Philippines investor-friendly? Let us open our country to foreign investors to make salary increases for minimum wage earners possible.)

Garin said this after the Senate approved the third reading of Senate Bill No. 2534, which would increase the salary of minimum wage earners in the private sector by P100 per day. None of the 20 senators present during Monday’s session voted against or abstained from voting on the bill.

READ: Senate approves P100 daily wage hike bill

However, Garin noted that there is a need to balance the benefits and risks posed by the legislative measure, as it may affect companies that cannot afford to give bigger wages.

“Gagawa ka ng magandang batas pero ang dagok naman nun — ilan naman ang mawawalan ng trabaho, ilan naman ang mga kompanyang magsasara [dahil hindi kakayanin ang pa-suweldo sa mga empleyado],” she said.

(You are making a good law but this would badly affect many because people might lose jobs and companies might close down because they cannot afford the higher wages of employees.)


“Karamihan kasi ng mga negosyante sa Pilipinas ay maliliit; iilan lang dyan ang nasa malalaking kompanya,” she added.

(Most businesses in the Philippines are small-scale enterprises; only some are giant corporations.)

In the House, the response to the P100 wage hike appeared lukewarm, as expert economists feel it may hurt micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which comprise a considerable part of the country’s businesses.

Deputy Speaker David Suarez said the proposed P100 daily wage hike sounds good but may lead to the compromise of MSMEs, while Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda warned that many MSMEs might be burdened by higher workers’ pay.

Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, also raised concerns that the wage increase may be inflationary since companies would pass on the burden of paying higher salaries to the cost of services or goods they offer.

READ: Economists in House say P100 wage hike may hurt MSMEs, push inflation

But labor leaders Luke Espiritu and Leody de Guzman only labeled these fears as excuses pushed forward by big businesses who do not want to lose profits. According to Espiritu, if the government sincerely looks after MSMEs, it should subsidize part of the MSME workers’ wages so that big businesses are compelled to shell out more for workers.

READ: Wage hike to hurt MSMEs  Then gov’t should subsidize them, Espiritu says

On the other hand, Garin said that if Congress was only thinking about politicking, it should have passed the bill without considering the possible repercussions.

“Kung pamumulitika lang ang iisipin ng Kongreso, dapat sana pinasa na kaagad ‘yan at sinabi, ‘O bahala na ang taumbayan.’ Pero hindi po ganoon ang Kongreso. Tinitingnan natin, doable ba ito o hindi ba doable,” she said.

(If we only think about politicking, we should have passed that immediately and say, ‘Let the public figure it out.’  But Congress is not like that; we are looking to see if this is doable.)

“Bakit ayaw nating buksan ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas at papasukin natin ang foreign investors… Papasok sila, papasok ang malalaking kumpanya, tataas ang suweldo [ng mga tao]. Iikot, gaganda, tataas ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas,” she added.

(Why don’t we open the Philippine economy and let foreign investors in? When big companies enter, people’s salaries also increase while the economy grows stronger.)

The House has been actively pushing for amendments to the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions, saying that this would allow foreign investments and eventually improve the economy.

However, the Senate has warned that a people’s initiative (PI) may lead to the abolition of the upper chamber. Last January 23, all 24 senators signed a manifesto rejecting the PI, saying it seeks to introduce joint voting in deciding on the proposed constitutional amendments.

READ: Senate manifesto nixes people’s initiative, warns of no-el scenario

Speaker Romualdez and other House leaders have denied being behind the PI, saying several times that they do not intend to abolish the Senate.

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READ: House leaders say there’s no plan to abolish Senate, now pushing RBH 6

TAGS: foreign investments, Garin, wage hike

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