By Samuel P. Medenilla, May 6 2019; Business Mirror

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Efforts to revert to setting a national minimum wage are now in the initial stage, as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said a review of existing wage policy of the Philippines is ongoing.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III formally announced last week that the study is now under way as lawmakers have included it in their legislative agenda.

“Once there is a bill in Congress [about it], they will be asking the wage boards. That is why we should be ready with this,” Bello told reporters in an interview.

DOLE’s National Wages Productivity Commission (NWPC) said the review is in compliance with the request of the Senate.

“It is the Senate which requested the Secretary [of Labor] to commission a third party expert to review the existing policy,” NWPC Executive Director Maria Criselda R. Sy told the BusinessMirror in an interview.


She said a local expert and specialist from the International Labor Organization (ILO) will be tasked to come out with the “inception report” that will detail how the review of wage setting mechanism will be conducted. The inception report is expected to be completed this year.

“We have to make sure it will be as open [to the stakeholders] as possible,” Sy said.

As for the role of the DOLE in the study, she said it will be to provide “technical inputs” in the undertaking based from its 30 years of implementation of the Republic Act (RA) 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act.

Implemented in 1989, RA 6727 allowed Congress to delegate its powers to adjust minimum-wage rates to the regional wage boards.

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III said among the issues to be tackled by the experts are the statistical indicators that should be used in the new alternative minimum-wage setting system.

“We would like to be more accurate with our indicators and statistics, which serve as basis for wage increases,” Lagunzad said.

The former executive director of NWPC also noted this will allow them to anticipate potential impact of wage increase to ensure it will be absorb by the economy without leading to job displacement and inflation.


Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Spokesman Alan Tanjusay said the NWPC already met with the TUCP last week to lay the groundwork for the study.

“They accepted our proposal and they said they asked a third party to study it. We already committed to join in its discussions,” Tanjusay said.

He said they will be submitting to NWPC their position paper on matter in the coming days.

To recall, TUCP together with other members of the labor coalition and Nagkaisa, as well as militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno have been pushing for the abolition of the regional-based minimum-wage setting scheme.

Leaders of the said labor groups said the system has been unfair especially for workers in the provinces since they get lower minimum wages than those in Metro Manila.