Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Arroyo gov't is using P125 wage hike bill as a scapegoat

Lisa C. Ito, Public Information Officer (+63)927.796.7006
Tel. # (+632) 931-6615 Email: crispinbeltran@gmail.com
URL: http:// www.geocities.com/ap_news

June 6, 2006

Arroyo gov't is using P125 wage hike bill as a scapegoat
for its inability to solve the rising crisis of unemployment, poverty

Anakpawis Party List Representative Crispin Beltran slammed the government's doomsday scenarios of unemployment and inflation if House Bill 0345 permitting a P125 legislated across-the-board wage hike is passed.

"The issue of workers fighting for a living wage is not the main cause of massive retrenchment, closure of industries, and poverty in the Philippines," Beltran stressed.

Beltran said that there was already a crisis of unemployment in the Philippines long before the issue of the P125 legislated wage hike was raised in Congress. "The government is using the issue of the P125 legislated wage hike as a scapegoat and a fall guy for its inability to create more jobs at home," Beltran said.

Beltran explained that unemployment was caused mainly by the government's lack of support for local industries in favor of foreign businesses and "free trade" policies.

"The crisis of massive unemployment intensified ever since the Philippines, through government officials such as then-Senator Gloria Arroyo, futher opened up its labor, industries, and patrimony to imperialist globalization. Remember that it was Pres. Arroyo who spearheaded the country's all-out puppetry to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has caused the rapid decline of local industries and existing small and medium-scale industries. She is partially to blame for the closure of local businesses that are causing more Filipinos to lose their jobs," Beltran said.

"Unemployment has worsened at an exponentially-increasing rate after the Philippines entered the WTO. 3,000 establishments have been closing annually, while at least 200 workers are being retrenched every day. The unemployment rate of 11.8% for 2004 is one of the highest in the country since 1956. This alarming figure would have even dramatically increased in 2005, had not the government adopted a new official definition of unemployment last year. And around half of 32 million who were "employed" in 2005 did not find jobs in the formal labor market, and were only able to gain jobs as migrant workers, unpaid family workers, or self-employed workers," Beltran said.

"As for the issue of inflation, Filipinos have been suffering from obscenely high prices and rates due to E-VAT, escalating oil price hikes due to a deregulated and cartelized oil industry, and the rapid privatization of power and water services. The denial of a substantial wage hike only makes it harder for the poor to cope with these rising prices, rates, and services," Beltran said.

"The government should not blame inflation and poverty on wage hikes. Eight out of ten Filipinos are already wallowing on poverty in the absence of jobs and wage increases. The levels of hunger and malnutrition here are already comparable to the African Sahara. And take note that the regions with the highest poverty rates are also the ones with the lowest wage rates," Beltran said. ###


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