Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ka Bel's fight for P125 Wage Increase

News Release December 21, 2006

Ka Bel devoted the last five years of his life as a people’s lawmaker to lobby and campaign for the passage of pro-worker, prop-poor bills such as HB 345, the bill legislating a P125 across-the-board wage increase for all workers nationwide

Free Ka Bel Movement Spokesperson Dennis Maga today lauded the passage of HB HB345 in the Lower House, saying that it was good news for all Filipino workers. The bill legislates a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide. Members of congress voted on the measure last night, December 20.

“We wish to thank the members of the House who worked hard to lobby and campaign for the passage of the bill. Especially the chairman of the Committee on Labor Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Roseller Barinaga. Rep. Barinaga and Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran have worked long and hard since the 12th Congress to have this bill passed through the Lower House,” he said.

“All the more do we feel Ka Bel’s absence from Congress. It’s been 10 months since he was arrested and charged with crimes he did not commit. He deserves to be free to thank Rep. Barinaga and all other lawmakers who supported HB345 himself. Ka Bel has committed five years of his life as a people’s lawmaker to campaigning for this measure,” Maga said.

“This measure and others like it which aim to give immediate and long-term economic relief to Filipino workers and members of other impoverished sectors are what kept Ka Bel busy all these years. He did not use his time colluding with disgruntled members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines like the Macapagal-Arroyo has falsely charged him. It is not a crime to speak out on behalf of workers and to lobby for measures that will help fight their poverty. Ka Bel should be immediately released,” he said.

In the meantime, Maga said that the bill’s passage was also a victory for all Filipino workers who continually took to the streets to express their support and their demand for a P125 across-the-board wage increase.

“Workers from various unions and even those who did not belong to unions supported this bill and continue to support this bill and press for the legislation of wage increases. Part and parcel of the call for the legislation of wage increases is also the abolition of wage rationalization and the Regional Wage Boards whose only function is to keep wages down all over the country,” he said.

“The campaign will now move on to the Senate where we hope that the senators will not be adverse to the measure and pass it before the 13th Congress ends. Senators should approve the bill and make note of the worsening economic conditions of most Filipino workers and their families. A P125 across-the-board wage increase implemented nationwide will provide immediate economic relief to workers who are greatly saddled by increasing electricity and water rates, as well as prices of basic commodities,” he concluded.

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