Labor groups seek P100 daily wage hike; DoLE to propose wage subsidy

LABOR groups are set to file a petition for a nationwide emergency minimum daily wage hike of P100 despite calls by business operators and government to delay any pay increase as more establishments are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement on Monday, Defend Jobs Philippines said an across-the-board wage hike is needed due to the pandemic-triggered recession. “Defend Jobs Philippines along with other labor groups are set to file a petition at the Labor Department’s National Wages and Productivity Board in the coming days to formally appeal for a P100 emergency wage relief across-the-board increase,” the group said. The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has previously said a wage hike could lead to shutdowns of more establishments. No minimum wage adjustment was implemented last year by any of the regional boards. DoLE, however, said on Monday that it would instead propose a wage subsidy for about 1.6 million workers most affected by the pandemic, with those in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as priority. “Our original proposal to the Department of Budget and Management and to the Congress regarding the wage subsidy… it will run about three months where we subsidize a portion of wages of workers,” said Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique R. Tutay in a virtual briefing. The subsidy will be sourced from available funds under DoLE’s budget. — Gillian M. Cortez

Duterte signs order creating National Amnesty Commission

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) creating a National Amnesty Commission (NAC) to strengthen the country’s peace and reconciliation efforts, according to the presidential palace. The primary task of the commission will be to process the applications for amnesty and determine “those who are eligible in connection with the recent amnesty proclamations pending concurrence of Congress,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a televised press briefing on Monday. He said the commission will consist of seven members, including a chairperson and two regular members who will be appointed by the President. Led by the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, the commission will be composed of the heads of the Department of Justice, Department of National Defense, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, he said. “Amnesty proclamations were already sent to Congress for their concurrence,” Mr. Roque said. “We offered the hand of peace to some groups so they could return to a normal and peaceful life.” The Palace has yet to release a copy of the EO to the media. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Immigration bureau’s income drops 36% in 2020 from record high in 2019

THE Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) income last year dropped 36.1% to P5.88 billion from P9.3 billion in 2019 due to travel restrictions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. In a press statement on Monday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said the 2019 revenue was a record-high for the agency, which collects visa processing and extension fees, fines and penalties, clearance and certification taxes, and immigration tax. BI Finance Chief Judith F. Ferrera said the bureau’s revenue started high at P1.8 billion in January and February, then dropped to P480 million in March as the government imposed a nationwide lockdown. The BI halted transactions at its offices for two months. BI Spokesperson Dana Krizia M. Sandoval said via Viber that the income decrease was inevitable given the travel bans for most of 2020. Restrictions are still in place for foreigners, with entry limited to certain types of visa. Ms. Sandoval also noted that many foreign nationals rushed to exit the Philippines last year to get to their home countries amid the pandemic, which is why “for probably the first time, there were more aliens going out of the country than going in.” Nevertheless, the bureau expects its income to gradually increase this year as it is “hopeful that confidence on international travel resumes as the vaccine rolls out in the next few months,” Ms. Sandoval added. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

39 party-list groups could be removed from Comelec registry

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) might cancel the registration of 39 party-list groups, which will bar them from participating in the 2022 polls. In a statement on Monday, Comelec said the 39 “are being considered for removal or cancellation” for failing to participate or getting a certain number of votes in the last two elections. The possible cancellation is based on Comelec Resolution No. 9366 relating to Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act. “(T)he Commission is authorized to remove or cancel the registration  of any party-list group, organization or coalition for failure to participate in the last two preceding elections, or for failure to obtain at least 2% of votes cast under the party-list system in the last two preceding elections for the constituency in which it was registered,” the poll body said. The inactive party-list groups are: Ading, 1-AAMOVER, Ang Pamilya, Ang Galing Pinoy, Alagad, ANAD, Kakusa, Kalikasan, and 1-AANI. Party-list groups that failed to receive the minimum 2% votes cast are:  Ading, Ating Koop, Alliance of Volunteer Educators, ATING KOOP, ALLIANCE OF VOLUNTEER EDUCATORS, ABAKADA, BANAT, ABAMIN, Append, ANG NARS, Tao Muna, Ako an Bisaya, ANUPA, CONSLA, ASEAN, AMEPA OFW, FICTAP, GLOBAL, Kaisahan ng mga Maliliit na Magsasaka, METRO, Partidong Manggagawa, SAMAKO, SINAG, Ito Ang TAMA, Tinderong Pinoy, TRICAP, UNIDO, ALL-FISH, AWAKE, KAMAIS, Partido ng Bayang and Bida, and 1-AHAPO. — Gillian M. Cortez

President OK’s recommendations to strengthen fight vs online child exploitation

FOUR recommendations by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on fighting online sexual exploitation of children have been approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra announced on Monday via Viber. The approved policies include imposing sanctions on internet service providers that fail to fulfill their duties under the Anti-Child Pornography Act, issuing executive orders to strengthen cooperation among relevant agencies, prioritizing the passage of bills amending the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or Republic Act 9208, and providing the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) with more personnel and funding. The sanctions will be handled by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), he said. The pending bills include a provision that will exempt “human trafficking, particularly sexual exploitation of children” from the  Anti-Wire Tapping Law. Mr. Guevarra also said the DoJ will draft executive orders relating to IACAT’s expansion and the terms of cooperation among agencies. “This may take at least two months,” he said. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago