SUBSTANTIAL WAGE INCREASE. Rep. Raymond Mendoza, president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) (seated), files the PHP418 wage hike petition in the Region 11 wage board in Davao City on Thursday (March 24, 2022). Once the measure is approved, the current daily minimum wage of PHP396 will become PHP814. (Photo courtesy of TUCP)

DAVAO CITY—The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) filed Thursday a PHP418 wage hike petition before the Region 11 wage board based in this city.

The proposed amount is on top of the existing PHP396 current minimum wage rate which covers Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao Occidental, Davao de Oro, and Davao City.

In a press briefing here, Rep. Raymond Mendoza, the TUCP president, said that once the measure is approved, the current daily minimum wage of PHP396 will become PHP814.

Mendoza argued that the current minimum wage of PHP396 in Region 11 can only afford a measly PHP14.48 per meal for each member of the family.

This, he said, is PHP46.69 lower compared to PHP61.17/meal/person estimated by the Ateneo Policy Center, using the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Pinggang Pinoy model.

The Ateneo Policy Center also used in its estimates the March 2019 PSA Media Service Market Price of Selected Commodities.

“Our efforts to increase the wages of our workers is also for the interest of our national security. Widespread hunger can lead to food riots and other socially and politically disruptive events that we do not want to happen in our society,” Mendoza explained.

Mendoza pointed out said that based on 2021 government data, PHP13,619 per month is the poverty threshold for Region 11, compared with the current minimum wage of only PH10, 296 per month, with a purchasing power of about PHP9,242.

In the 2021 First Semester Poverty Incidence Among Families released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), poverty incidence was 7.9 percent in Davao del Sur; 13.6 percent in Davao del Norte; 24.5 percent in Davao Oriental; 31.7 percent in Davao Occidental; 21.8 percent in Davao de Oro.

"Wages were set to the cost-of-living three years ago. The wages are no longer able to cope with current cost of living," Mendoza said.

He said that the minimum wage earners and their families have already fallen below the poverty level even before the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, and the succeeding oil price hikes that are now pushing the prices of basic goods and services.

"The fact that our minimum wage earners have become the newly poor is a blatant injustice that must be seriously and urgently addressed by the government,” Mendoza said.

Meanwhile, TUCP also debunked the position of some individuals and groups that wage increase is not timely given the possible rollback in the prices of oil products.

The group surmised that although there could be a possibility of a temporary rollback of oil prices, the costs of oil will continue to increase in the long-term because of the international supply problem.

“We are deeply concerned that with the looming price hikes in the basic commodities, including electricity and transport fares, our workers and their families could not survive this time and that is unacceptable to us,” the TUCP president said.

He also warned that "if substantial wage adjustments will not be granted by the wage boards, malnutrition will become more serious and widespread among our workers and their families, and it will not take a long time that they will experience real starvation." (PNA)