In his last wave in Bohol prior to the May 9 elections, vice presidential bet, Sen. Chiz Escudero, stressed that a labor-friendly government and established foundation for the youth will heal the land.
Escudero was in Bohol on April 27 and had an interaction with the local media.
Escudero said that Team Galing at Puso he espoused with runningmate, Sen. Grace PoeÂ will establish a more labor-friendly government that treats Filipino workers, both here and abroad, as partners.
He said they will pursue pro-worker policies to ensure that workers, who are the driving force of economic development, are not left behind under the â€œGobyernong may Pusoâ€ platform of inclusive and rapid growth and global competitiveness.
â€œDapat ang tingin sa mga manggagawa ay hindi po kasangkapan lang ng negosyo,Â partnerÂ dapat sila ng mga negosyante. Kasabay dapat sila sa paglago ng kumpanyaâ€™t negosyo, hindi parang makina na nilalansingan mo lang o ginagasulinahan tatakbo na. Dapat may pakiramdam at malasakit ang mga negosyante sa kanilang mga empleyado,â€ he added.
Escudero and Poe have also been pushing for lower personal income tax, strict implementation of the minimum wage law and an end to labor contractualization to give security of tenure to workers, among others.
â€œWe will ensure that all workers are paid at least the current minimum wage and employers are fined or imprisoned if found shortchanging their employees,â€ Escudero said.
While the government cannot promise a pay hike that would cover all workers in the public and private sectors, it may impose lower income taxes to boost their take-home pay and help them cope with the rising cost of living, he added.
â€œSlashing the income tax, which at 32 percent is one of the highest in Asia, is the best way to ease the burden of salaried workers. There are around 39 million comprising the nationâ€™s labor force, about 36 million of them are in the private sector,â€ according to Escudero.
To provide workers with regular employment and security of tenure, he said the Poe government is determined to put a stop to the prevalent practice of labor contractualization by repealing a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) order.
Â â€œSa ilalim ng Saligang Batas, ginagarantiya angÂ security of tenure.Â Hindi po bagong batas ang kailangan. Kailangan lang i-repealÂ ang isangÂ department order ng DOLEÂ na binuksan ang pintuan at bintana para maging ligal angcontractualization.Â Kailangang iutos lang ng Pangulo saÂ DOLE SecretaryÂ nya na i-repealÂ angÂ DepartmentÂ Order No. 18, series of 2011, endo (end of contract)Â na angÂ endo,Â bawal na angÂ contractualization,â€ Escudero said.
The Poe-Escudero tandem is also preparing a package of reforms to improve the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) whose remittances have kept the Philippine economy resilient over the years, including the establishment of a separate department that will attend to their needs and the creation of a P100-billion fund to finance a wide-ranging service to assist migrant workers, the veteran lawmaker said.
If elected into office, Escudero said they will improve the portability of government health insurance to allow OFWs to use their card from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) even in health facilities abroad, as well as take steps to legalize the status of all undocumented OFWs not covered by certain legal protection.
They are also pushing for reduced employment and processing fees and greater government assistance for OFWs, which number around 2.3 million. Estimates, however, show that there are 10 million Filipino migrant workers spread worldwide, or about 10 percent of the countryâ€™s entire population.
On the terror sown in the country by the Abu Sayyaf, Escudero expressed disappointment that the government only gives attention to the armed group whenever they kidnap anybody.
He said the government should give attention to crushing the Abu Sayyaf Group with or without any incident of kidnapping.
On education, Escudero said they intend to make tuition fees free in all state universities and colleges, pursue study now-pay later program without requiring an applicant to be an honor student as long as he or she wants to finish college, and make sure that internet will be free in all private and public schools for the students to catch up with the global trend.
Escudero also emphasized that the government should prioritize programs that will address poverty, and expressed lament that 60 percent of the poor are in the agriculture sectorâ€”the very sector that produces food.
He said capacitating the families to afford the basic needs will prevent any temptation to engage in illegal activities.
The senator said one of the means is to allocate 20 percent of the national budget to programs that will uplift the living condition of fishermen.
Escudero said he and Poe also intend to establish a retirement program for the OFWs and make sure they avail of the PhilHealth benefits while abroad the comprehensive way.