Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Illegal detention under GMA administration bars wage hike bill's author from plenary debates

From the Office of Anakpawis Congressman Crispin Beltran
Lisa Ito, Public Information Officer (0927-7967006)

May 3, 2006

Illegal detention under GMA administration
bars wage hike bill's author from plenary debates

Saying that it is high time for Congress to pursue the passage of House Bill (HB) 0345 approving a P125 across-the-board wage hike, HB 345's principal author Anakpawis Congressman Crispin Beltran challenged avowed pro-labor solons to concretely support the bill's passage at the Second Reading and enjoin other undecided solons to support HB 345 as well.

"We should not be lulled into complacency or inaction with the Palace's statement leaving the issue of wage hikes to be decided upon by the regional wage boards. Based on the experiences of labor groups, we can not expect any concrete and signficant wage increases from the regional wage boards, only denials or dole-outs. Congress should break this impasse on the virtual wage freeze and lay the ground for a legislated nationwide P125 wage hike for private sector workers," the veteran labor leader said.

"It's now or never. According to statistics from the National Wages and Productivity Commision, the daily living wage in the National Capital Region has already reached P746.00 for a family of six, as of March 2006. This is the farthest thing in the world from the P325 daily minimum wage rate. This P125 wage hike is long overdue and much-needed. The HB 345's passage will mark the first step towards making workers' wages catch up with the rising costs of living," Beltran said.

Rep. Beltran, however, added that he does not believe Pres. Arroyo is in favor of a wage hike. "It seems from the President's silence and evasion that she is against the P125 legislated wage hike being demanded by the Filipino working class since 1999. If the President truly supported House Bill 345, then she would have at least indicated so. However, she has issued no such certification, and instead, certified that Anti-Terror legislation and Charter Change in lieu of the calls for a P125 wage hike. She has even left the issue of a wage hike at the mercy of the regional wage boards, which grant only ridiculously low wage hikes and not the significant poverty-alleviating rate which we are asking from the national government. She just stopped short of saying that Filipino workers don't deserve a wage hike, despite all their efforts to increase productivity," Beltran said.

Beltran also noted that his arbitrary detention by the Arroyo administration barred him from attending plenary debates on the bill when sessions resume on May 15. Beltran is the principal proponent of HB 345.

Unless he is released, Beltran said, he will be "deprived, by default, of the chance to lobby for and to be interpellated upon by fellow solons on this landmark pro-worker legislation".

"I have been deprived by the Arroyo administration of the right to lobby for this bill, due to this illegal detention and political harassment being waged against me and the five other progressive party list solons. This is not only an infringement of my responsibility as a solon to work for legislation serving the peoples' interests. This is also an assault towards Filipino workers nationwide who have been deprived of their rights to be duly represented within the Lower House," the veteran labor leader said.

Beltran is currently confined at the Room 427 of the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), undergoing medical treatment and examination while under custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Beltran has been arbitrarily detained by the PNP at Camp Crame since February 25. The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 137 last April 17 ordered the 73-year old's immediate transfer to the PHC on humanitarian grounds. ###


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