MANILA, Philippines – On the eve of Labor Day, the Aquino administration gave a general accounting of what it said it has given workers, so far: a higher take home pay, more livelihood opportunities and less joblessness, and improved support for overseas Filipino workers and other vulnerable sectors.
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr made the statement in a note on “Labor Day Milestones” released to the media on Thursday, April 30.
“Simula nang manungkulan ang Aquino administration, marami nang naidagdag na benepisyo sa hanay ng manggagawa (Since the Aquino administration assumed offfice, a lot more benefits have been given to the ranks of workers),” Coloma said.
He said workers would now have a bigger take home pay after President Benigno Aquino III signed a law raising to P82,000 ($1,839) from P30,000 ($673) the tax exemption cap on 13th month pay and other workers’ benefits. (READ: Aquino signs law raising tax exemption cap for bonuses)
Coloma also cited “more new livelihood opportunities and a 7% reduction in joblessness, based on the latest SWS (Social Weather Stations) survey.”
“Napataas din ang quality of workplace dahil sa pagpapatupad ng labor laws at labor standards ayon sa pandaigdigang pamantayan. Pinaigting din ang suporta sa mga OFWs at mga vulnerable sectors,” he said.
(There was an improvement in the quality of workplaces with the enforcement of labor laws and labor standards, based on global standards. There is also increased support for OFWs and the vulnerable sectors.)
The self-assessment comes a day after the Indonesian government delayed the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino worker sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug offenses.
Critics have scored the Aquino government for failing to keep Veloso out of jail. In 2010, Indonesia sentenced the 30-year-old Veloso to death on charges of drug smuggling. Veloso, a single mother of two from Nueva Ecija, had flown to Malaysia with the intention of securing a job as a domestic helper.
She claimed that her recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, had duped her into flying to Indonesia with a suitcase with 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in the lining. Veloso has consistently maintained her innocence. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)
Sergio has “surrendered” to authorities due to security concerns as she has reportedly received death threats, and is now under police protection. Her “surrender” was key to Indonesia’s decision to delay Veloso’s execution.
Aquino in Cebu on Labor Day
Malacañang also said that Aquino will lead the Labor Day celebration in Cebu on Friday, May 1.
Responding to questions, Coloma said Aquino has chosen to spend Labor Day in Cebu not to avoid militant labor groups that are set to mark the day with anti-government rallies in Manila but to “be with our countrymen in other regions, other provinces.”
On Friday morning, Aquino is scheduled to keynote the JobStart Philippines forum on the Filipino youth in the labor market in Mandaue City.
He will also conduct an inspection tour of the new facilities of the University of Cebu Medical Center in Mandaue, and attend the expansion project inauguration of Cemex Philippines in Naga.
JobStart Philippines is a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) program in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and local government units.
The project provides a full-cycle employment bridging package to youth-beneficiaries from life skills training, accessible labor market information, career counseling, on-the-job training, and other employment facilitation services. – Rappler.com
US$1 = P44.5
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