By Gillian M. Cortez
BUSINESSES in Metro Manila may have to pay their minimum wage workers at least P20 more per day — roughly the same increment under the prevailing wage order — once the National Capital Region (NCR) gets new rates next month, the Labor chief said on Tuesday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said over radio station dzMM that a daily minimum wage “adjustment” can be expected “next month,” adding in a press conference at the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) headquarters in Manila that “[i]t won’t go below P20.”
Kung ibababa pa ‘yan, hindi mararamdaman ang adjustment (Any less and the adjustment won’t be felt by the minimum wage earner),” Mr. Bello explained.
[‘Yun] ang pinarating sa atin ng… head ng NWPC (That is what the head of the National Wages and Productivity Commission told me),” he had said in the morning radio interview, adding “… [‘yun] lang ang kaya (It’s what we can give).”
“Any time now, the (Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity) Board is going to submit their recommendation for the approval of the NWPC,” he added at the DoLE head office.
Wage Order No. NCR-21, which took effect on Oct. 5 last year, raised Metro Manila’s daily minimum wage for private-sector workers by P21 to P475 for agriculture establishments, retail/service businesses employing up to 15 workers and manufacturing establishments with less than 10 employees, as well as to P512 for non-farm workers.
By law, daily minimum wage rates cannot be adjusted within a year after the prevailing wage order took effect, except in the case of supervening conditions like unduly high inflation rates.
So far, 12 of the country’s 17 regions have new wage orders:

• Cordillera Administrative Region: P20-30 to P300-320 that took effect Aug. 20;

• Ilocos Region (Region 1): P13-30 to P256-310 effective Jan. 25;

• Central Luzon (Region 3): P16 to P264-380, Aug. 1;

• Calabarzon (Region 4A covering Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon): P9-21.50 to P303-400, Aug. 20;

• Bicol Region (Region 5): P20-30, effective Sept. 21, to P310 by the end of the second tranche due May 1 next year;

• Western Visayas (Region 6): P8.50 to P295-P365, effective July 12;

• Central Visayas (Region 7): P10-52 to P313-386 effective Aug. 3;

• Eastern Visayas (Region 8, June 25): P20-30 to P275-303, effective June 25;

• Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9): P20 to P303-316, effective July 30;

• Davao Region (Region 11): P56 to P381-396, effective Aug. 16

• Soccsksargen (Region 12 covering South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City): P16-18 to P290-P311, effective May 11;

• Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao: P15 to P270-280, effective June 15.

Besides the NCR wage board, still to issue their new orders are those of Cagayan Valley (Region 2) and Mimaropa (Region 4-B covering Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) in Luzon as well as Caraga in eastern Mindanao and Northern Mindanao (Region 10).
Mr. Bello said in the Tuesday press conference that “Region 2 will be next.”
Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., honorary chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, said any increase in daily minimum wage at this time of multiyear-high inflation rates would weigh heavily on small- and medium-scale enterprises which account for about 99.6% of the country’s businesses and provide 70% of jobs. “As much as possible, the minimum wage shouldn’t be touched,” he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.