Diokno has no moral right to declare wage increases are bad to the economy
As someone who earns close to 200 times more than minimum wage earners, Department of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno has absolutely no moral right to tell the Filipino people that ordering substantial wage increases will be harmful to the economy.
Yesterday, Mr Diokno declared before a Senate hearing that enacting a law to raise minimum wages will be bad for the Philippine economy and cause it to further slow down.
What economy is good, Mr Diokno, if millions of workers and toiling people are not earning enough to eat three full meals day and live in a decent house? Everyday, workers, peasants and their families are compelled to scrimp on their meals, forced to survive on instant noodles, while their roofs leak and their taps go dry.
The people are outraged over reports that, last year, Mr Diokno earned at least ₱28.78 million in salaries, allowances, bonuses, honorarium and others from his position as secretary of the Department of Finance. The other “economic managers” also earned hefty salaries with Bangko Sentral Governor Felipe Medalla earning ₱34.17 million and NEDA Secretary Balisacan earning ₱6.95 million.
To earn more than ₱100,000 every working day like Mr Diokno is beyond the imagination of ordinary Filipinos. Everyday, they toil to make ends meet, to buy all their necessaries and pay taxes. Thinking they have no other choice, they tighten their belts, when they do not earn enough.
Conversely, to earn around ₱500 every working day like tens of millions of Filipino is beyond the imagination of Mr Diokno. Everyday, he and his IMF and World Bank-trained technocrats work to make the government satisfy the demands of foreign investors for cheap labor and tax exemptions.
He and his ilk are paid millions of pesos to lie to the Filipino people that workers do not need wage increases. Diokno conjures the phantom of wage increases pushing up inflation to scare workers from demanding what is just and urgently needed. In reality, workers everyday are haunted by rising prices even when their wages are extremely low.
The IMF-WB triumvirate of Diokno, Medalla and Balisacan have been at the helm of economic planning for around a decade now. They are primarily responsible for the aggressive push for such neoliberal measures as import liberalization, increases in foreign debt servicing, cutbacks on spending for social services, the TRAIN Law and other onerous taxes, wage suppression, conversion of agricultural lands, and other measures which have destroyed local productive forces. These policies have caused the economy to become ever reliant on imports, loans and foreign investments, pushing up prices and pushing down the people’s standard of living.
Marcos’ economic team and economic plan must be renounced, condemned and rejected by Filipino workers and toiling people. They must repudiate the lies of Diokno and his ilk, push their demand for wage increases, and fight for the Filipino people’s social and economic rights.