MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 July) — The labor contractors’ abuse of the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBE Law) is to blame for most of the violations against wage laws in agricultural plantations in Bukidnon, labor provincial chief Saturnino Escobido said.
Escobido told MindaNews the law should be amended to stop labor contracting firms from exploiting thousands of workers in Bukidnon’s agricultural farms.
He said that in the context of the agricultural plantations of multinational companies, the BMBE runs counter to laws on minimum wage rates.
Republic Act 9178 is the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBE) Law, which aims to promote the establishment of BMBEs by providing incentives and benefits.
Escobido said incentives under the law should cease to apply when firms that enjoy them contract labor with multinational corporations.
Otherwise, he said, the multinational companies can use the law as a scapegoat for violating labor laws.
Escobido said that should it apply, the BMBE has to set a limit on the incentives.
“If the minimum wage is P250, wages for BMBE incentives must not go as low as P60 to P80 per day. At least it should be around P150 to P200,” he suggested.
He said the BMBE law has good intentions for the real small companies that are not obliged to follow requirements imposed on bigger firms.
But there is a big possibility that big companies have taken advantage of it at the expense of the workers, the official said.
Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. frowned at Escobido’s mention of the problem on Wednesday, the first day of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s committee hearing on labor contractualization.
“It is easily circumvented. That law is the problem,” an irate Zubiri said.
Escobido said the provincial board must pass a resolution requesting Congress to amend the law to protect the workers. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)