Workers throw Roque’s own words back at him: “Read before you speak”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has argued that the setting of a national minimum wage (NMW) is “legally impossible,” as it would require Congress to repeal the current law on regional wage boards and authorize the NMW anew.
Our response to Roque is simple: read before you speak.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has joined the Makabayan bloc in Congress in filing a National Minimum Wage bill (House Bill 7787). Roque clearly has not read the bill yet, which is ironic considering his vocal criticism of KMU and other labor organizations on May 1, when he accused labor leaders of slamming Executive Order 51 (EO 51) without having read the EO.
The Presidential spokesperson, who also happened to be a lawyer, also seems to miss the fact the Makabayan bloc has filed the NMW Bill precisely to amend laws and make it “legally possible” to implement a national minimum wage.
The NMW bill now filed with the House of Representatives is a clear answer to Roque’s argument. It sets forth concrete grounds and steps for abolishing the anti-worker, arbitrary, and irrational regional wage system. It lays out the path for amending the Labor Code and establishing an NMW that meets living standards.
To Roque, President Rodrigo Duterte, and the rest of the government, we assert that a National Minimum Wage law is not impossible. Not only is it a legal possibility, it is a moral necessity. A P750 NMW would close the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage at a time when the costs of basic goods are higher than ever, especially with the railroaded and burdensome Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
We urge Roque to a have dinner with a family of a worker living on the current minimum wage. To see for himself the grim and inequitable realities of the regional wage boards, we suggest that Roque consider integrating with minimum wage earners from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where the lowest MW rate of P235 is simply not enough for a family’s basic needs.