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FIRING LINE: Wage hike of unmet expectations

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) has approved a P35 minimum wage hike for workers in the National Capital Region (NCR), effective July 17.

Nonagricultural workers’ daily wages will increase to P645, while those in agriculture and small retail/service establishments will rise to P608.

This adjustment affects approximately 1.7 million workers and aims to correct wage distortions.

While the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) sees this as a relief, labor groups argue it’s inadequate.

Employers appreciate the manageable increase compared with more substantial proposed hikes, seeing it as a win-win that supports small businesses and mitigates inflation.

However, the modest increase is criticized by labor leaders for failing to meet the rising cost of living and not providing a livable wage. The P35 hike offers some support to workers but does not fully address their financial struggles.

At the end of the day, this modest concession might keep businesses afloat but does little to bridge the gap between poverty and prosperity for the working class in Metro Manila.

Runaway inflation has hit Filipinos hard, and while it is the job of the government to protect workers, consumers, and families from such economic scourges, the Marcos administration has sorely failed to deliver on agricultural promises and support export industries, leaving the nation grappling with persistent inflation and unmet expectations.

Our Manchurian candidate?

For those who read the novel The Manchurian Candidate or watched the 2004 movie adaptation, you’ll know the story of an unsuspecting individual molded into a political puppet. The novel portrays the protagonist as brainwashed by the Chinese during the Korean War, while the movie adaptation updates this with corporate control, making it a tale of power, manipulation, and hidden agendas.

Now, imagine this: what if the Philippines had its own “Manchurian Candidate?” Consider Mayor Alice Guo of Bamban, Tarlac as the corporate puppet. Or perhaps Sara Duterte – all quiet about the West Philippine Sea. Or, even better, what if former President Rodrigo Duterte was our very own Manchurian prototype?

Imagine the twists and turns in our political landscape if these leaders were influenced by the 21st century’s great Asian power. One might ponder if, behind every significant policy decision, there’s a shadowy figure pulling the strings, much like in the classic tale.

While this remains in the realm of speculation and light-hearted banter, it does make one wonder about the true dynamics of power and influence in our nation, the way things are shaping up these days.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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