By ALDWIN QUITASOL
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — After more than a decade of waiting, workers, union leaders and sectoral and national organizations welcomed the ruling of the sub-committee of the House of Representative’s Committee on Labor and Employment (COLE) approving the passage of House Bill 375 known as “P125 Daily Across-the-Board Wage Increase Act” with relief .
During the public hearing on HB 375 spearheaded by COLE at the Strawberry Valley Hotel here.
January 18, COLE Chairman Emil L. Ong of the 2nd District of Northern Samar suggested that the wage hike proposed bill be approved since there were no organizations or representatives of companies or institutions registering their opposition at the set hearing. The other HOR members who were present seconded the motion and it was approved by the presiding committee Vice Chair and Benguet Representative Ronald Cosalan.
Leaders of the Kilusang Mayo Uno who attended from its local affiliates, national and Luzon-based local labor organizations along with representatives of other organizations and institutions presented their positions in the hearing for the HB 375.
Also present in the public hearing was Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOLE-CAR) Regional Director and Regional Tripartite Wage Productivity Board (RTWPB) Chairman Henry John Jalbuena
HB 375’s principal author was Anakpawis Party List Representative Rafael V. Mariano, and co-authors from other progressive party list were representatives Teodoro Casio and Neri Javier Colmenares of Bayan Muna (BM), Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana A. De Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party, Raymond V. Palatino of Kabataan and Antonio Tinio.
They introduced HB 375 to the fifteenth congress of the HOR. It was originally filed by the late BM Representative Crispin Beltran wayback 2001 but it never reached first reading in the plenary. It was refiled as HB 345 by Beltarn as Anakpawis congressman and was approved at the plenary by a majority vote on December 2006. However, HB 345 was recalled for deliberation and debate by Cavite Representative Crispin Remulla. The move was said to be strongly backed by Malacaang. It was refiled as HB 1722 in the 14th congress but did not even reach further development after a single committee hearing in 2008 more than a year after it was filed.
According to the principal author Mariano, the approval of the HB 375 is another victory for the Filipino working class though it was approved at the sub-committee of COLE. He said the workers and the rest of the Filipinos shall further the struggle for the legislation of the P125 wage hike. He reiterated that the wage increase demand has been recognized as a symbol of the Filipino workers’ united action for economic relief.
Cosalan said they will submit the sub-committee report and recommendation to the mother committee for which the HB will be included in the agenda of the plenary of the Congress in its remaining 9 sessions.
He said all position papers and insights on the P125 wage hike demand will be discussed by the members of the Congress and hopes that it will be acted on in these remaining days of the 15th Congress.
Anakpawis-Cordillera Regional Coordinator Michael Cabangon said the approval of the P125 though by a sub-committee is still good news to the workers of the country and their families for the year 2013. He however said that there are many possibilities when it will already go to the plenary of the Congress given that it has only 9 remaining sessions. He said the toiling Filipino workers and their families must continue the fight for its final approval into law.#www.nordis.net