It is up to the wage boards to decide whether they will act on petitions to increase the daily minimum wage of private sector workers in Metro Manila and other regions, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) sought for a PHP710 increase in daily minimum wage for workers amid increasing costs of goods and services and the tax reform program.

“Whatever petitions they will have to file have to go through the wage board,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing, a day before Labor Day.

Asked if the Palace will support a salary hike, Panelo said the it will not interfere with the decision of the wage boards.

“Ang wage board ang magde-determine niyan eh, kung kailangan o kung hindi depende sa (The wage board will determine it, if it is necessary or if it will depend on) circumstances surrounding whatever petition they have in mind,” Panelo said.

“They know their jobs,” he added.

Panelo, meanwhile, said workers are free to hold protests on Labor Day to seek higher wages, better jobs, and the passage of the Security of Tenure bill.

“It’s their right to protest. You can even join them. You can even join them if you feel like joining,” Panelo said.

Earlier, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it was unlikely that it would announce a wage increase on Labor Day.

However, the board expressed openness to review the TUCP petition and see whether it could eventually grant a salary hike for minimum wage earners.

On Labor Day last year, Duterte signed an executive order (EO) banning illegal contracting or subcontracting, an act strengthened employees’ security of tenure.

The President said although an EO could help “alleviate” employment problems, it is still the Congress that needs to do the work by amending the existing Labor Code. (PNA)