Thursday, May 1, 2014

Drilon vows to steer passage of pro-labor laws

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon vowed today that the Senate would work double time in enacting pro-worker legislation that will provide relief to the Philippine workforce and help improve their economic condition.

“As a gift to the millions of dedicated workers both from the public and private sectors, we commit to work on the immediate passage of various pending measures that will have a direct and significant impact to their lives,” said Drilon, a former labor secretary.

Drilon said that among the pending measures which will receive “urgent legislative attention” is the bill (Senate Bill No. 256) which seeks to raise the tax exemption limit on the 13th month pay and other work benefits of all workers in the public and private sector.

He added that the Senate is eyeing to pass the pro-labor bill within the year: “We will work double time in making sure that this piece of legislation will be enacted into law at the soonest in order to assist our workers in dealing with the effect of inflation, and to boost their morale and give them a renewed inspiration to excel in their works.” 

He thus urged the appropriate Senate committee to fast-track the hearing on Senate Bill No. 256, authored by Senate Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, so that it can immediately be discussed on the floor.

The Senate intends to raise the exclusion limit on an individual’s 13th month pay and other work benefits from income taxation from the current imposed limit of P30,000 to P75,000, according to Drilon.

“It has been 20 years ago since the enactment of Republic Act No. 7833 that imposed the P30,000 cap on bonuses such as the 13th month pay, and things have greatly change since then, making the figures no longer reflective of current economic realities,” Drilon stressed.

Drilon also pointed to two measures currently pending in the Senate which seek to raise the allowances of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

The Senate chief also said the Senate is open to proposals to increase the government workers’ salary to help them deal with the rising costs of living.

“Considering that the last tranche of salary increase under the Salary Standardization Law III took place two years ago, we recognize the government employees’ clamor to augment their wages, taking into account the increases in prices of basic commodities,” said Drilon.

In 2013, there were 1,205,375 government employees, he noted.

“We should study the proposal carefully and we should strike a reasonable balance between addressing the needs of our government employees and ensuring that we recover from budgetary deficit. If this would not be possible in the near term, we must explore other means and mechanisms which could bring our workers’ pay to equitable rates,” stressed Drilon.

“Our policy makers must ceaselessly look at parts of the National Budget which could permit and put into action sustainable salary augmentation, in a manner that would help our workers, yet would not result in budgetary deficit or decreases in other important sectors such as social and health services,” he emphasized. 

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