Amid criticisms, Palace defends Labor Day package

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Monday defended the Labor Day package unveiled by President Aquino from the stinging rejection of some labor groups, saying these are “doable measures” to ease the burden of the people in the face of rising oil and food costs.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the early release of the salary increase and mid-year bonuses of state workers, rice subsidies for farmers and fishermen, among other Labor Day gifts are what the government could afford to give the workers.

Lacierda, speaking to reporters in the Palace, insisted that the administration will not make promises it cannot deliver.

“The early implementation of the Salary Standardization Law 3 is a huge help to government employees especially with the payment of tuition fees. We will also receive early our mid-year bonus. These are measures that are doable, which the government can do,” Lacierda said in Filipino during a Palace news conference.

“Like the President said, we don’t implement measures that will make us look good. These are the things that are doable, these are the things we can afford to do,” he said.

The opposition in the House of Representatives belittled President Aquino’s “gift” to the country’s labor force, saying that the benefits offered were “a mere compendium of patched up palliatives.”

In a press statement, Minority Leader Edcel Lagman noted that despite being in office for ten months now, Aquino remained unresponsive to the problems of workers and has failed to present a “concrete, resolute and progressive labor policy.”

“After 10 months in office, the administration of President Aquino does not have a concrete, resolute and progressive labor policy other than a mere compendium of patched-up palliatives,” said Lagman.

The President earlier announced that government workers can get the third tranche of their salary adjustment a month earlier in June under the Salary Standardization Law 3.

Aquino likewise urged regional wage boards to speed up the deliberations on wake hike petitions within the month, saying “we cannot remain deaf to the pleas of our minimum wage earners.”

The government also plans to distribute rice stocks to small farmers and fishermen under the P4.2 billion subsidy plan. Another P2 billion has been set aside to distribute seeds, fertilizer and other farm inputs to farmers.

Lacierda said the President prefers the regional wage boards to set the salary adjustment for private workers rather than Congress. He noted that wage boards are aware of the prevailing economic condition in the provinces.

(With a report from Ben Rosario - Manila Bulletin)

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