[PHOTO - President Aquino distributes his personalized baller bands to residents after leading the inauguration of the weather bureau’s new Doppler radar station (in background) in Bato, Catanduanes yesterday.]

BATO, CATANDUANES, MAY 4, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla – President Aquino defended here yesterday his administration’s refusal to give in to organized labor’s demand for a P125 legislated wage hike, insisting that wages should be kept low in order for the country to attract more job-generating investments.

He pointed out that a P125 or roughly $3 increase – as proposed by militant groups – would translate to $13 (P546) minimum wage as against the current $10 or P420 minimum wage.

He said such difference is likely to scare off investors.

Aquino expressed fears the country might lose its competitive advantage over neighboring countries with regard to cheap labor.

He cited as example Cambodia, where the minimum wage is only $2.

“Our competitors are our neighboring countries like Cambodia where the minimum wage is $2. Theirs is $2, ours is $13, but if work is the same why would investors go to us?”

He pointed out that the Philippines’ advantage over South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore is its cheaper labor rates.

Aquino also warned that a P125 legislated wage hike would only complicate government efforts to provide a million jobs each year to new graduates.

This does not include the 2.9 million Filipinos who are either jobless or underemployed.

He added that higher wages might force more companies to shut down or lay off employees.

“Instead of improving the situation, it will only worsen the condition of the workers whose interest they claim to protect. So we really have to closely examine their proposal,” Aquino stressed.

Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, meanwhile said that Aquino’s projection that a P125 minimum wage hike would cost the economy P1.43 trillion was based on the assumption that salaries of other workers would also be adjusted.

Aquino has drawn flak for making such a forecast, which was based on an assumption that there are 40 million minimum wage earners. There are only 15 million wage earners.

“It’s different because when you adjust wages at the bottom there’s a tendency for wages on upper levels to also seek an adjustment. It’s true we don’t know exactly how much the impact will be on the economy. There will be different opinions but, I think, the President was outlining an example to illustrate the case that some solutions which sometimes look like they are good over the short-term could have negative impacts over the long-term,” Carandang said.

“So we can argue about whether it’s 40 million or 35 million or 15 million but there is a tendency, empirically, that when you adjust the minimum wage, there will naturally be adjustments among higher wage earners. So it is difficult to quantify how much,” Carandang said.

He said that in the past, minimum wage adjustments affected other salary levels. – With Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin

Noy inaugurates Doppler radar system By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) Updated May 03, 2012 12:00 AMComments (5)

[PHOTO - President Benigno Simeon Aquino III converses with Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, Albay Governor Jose Salceda and Catanduanes Lone District Representative Cesar Sarmiento after leading the Inauguration of the Solong and Hitoma 1 Hydroelectric Power Plants and the PAGASA New Radar Tower Station at the Barangay Buenavista, Bato, Catanduanes Wednesday May 02, 2012.

The Solong and Hitoma mini-hydro plants are the first ever to be developed by a a private entity, the Sunwest Water and Electricity, Inc. in the small island grids covered by the Special Power Utilities Group (SPUG) of the National Power Corporation.

While PAGASA's new Doppler radar station in Catanduanes is expected to mitigate the impact of devastating typhoons in the country as the weather bureau effectively predicts incoming typhoons. (Jay Morales / MPB / NPPA Images).]

BATO, CATANDUANES, Philippines – President Aquino inaugurated yesterday the latest state-of-the-art Doppler radar system that will help determine the volume of rainfall and warn off the occurrence of massive flooding that may affect not just this province but other areas as well.

He thanked the Japanese government, through deputy chief of mission Motohiko Kato and Masanori Kurisu of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), for providing P1.7 billion in funds to help the government mitigate effects of calamities.

“I would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Japan and JICA for this modern weather monitoring facility which is now operational,” Aquino said in his speech.

Kato said the total amount is for the installation of three Doppler radars – the first of which is in this province, the second in Aparri in October (this year) and the last in Guiuan in Samar, all areas that have been serially hit by typhoons.

“This will help us predict the effects of weather patterns and gather more information about the direction, impact, and intensity of weather disturbances approaching our country. This means that we’ll be better prepared – that fewer Filipinos will be victimized by the vagaries of weather,” the President noted.

The island-province of Catanduanes, composed of 11 towns, faces the Pacific Ocean from which 95 percent of typhoons (20 to 24) hit the Philippines yearly and devastates not just the Bicol region but the rest of Luzon and some portions of Visayas as well.

“It is the government’s responsibility to do everything in its power to be ready for these natural disasters. We must continue focusing more of our resources in creating a system that will better warn us, and our people, about possible typhoons,” Aquino stressed.

“We can assure the people here that our administration is readier than ever to respond to these threats, and to help our people recover from potential damages,” he added.

Governors Joseph Cua of Catanduanes and Joey Salceda of Albay expressed optimism that the presence of the equipment would help their officials come up with disaster risk reduction plans and activities.

“This is a dream come true for us to get very accurate weather forecast from PAGASA for our disaster risk reduction,” Salceda said during the inauguration, referring to the state weather agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

The P580-million Doppler radar station that sits on top of a mountain is expected to mitigate the impact of devastating typhoons in the country as the weather bureau effectively predicts incoming typhoons.

“With this Doppler radar in place, weather forecasters would have longer lead time of at least six hours to determine the amount of rain a tropical cyclone carries, giving us ample time to implement our evacuation procedures,” Salceda added.– With Cet Dematera, Celso Amo

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved