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Freeman Region

FDC to Gov't: Give minimum wage to every housewife

- Lalaine Jimenea -

ORMOC CITY, Philippines  – The Freedom from Debt Coalition has been studying the possibility of the Philippine government to adopt the Venezuelan model of paying every homemaker or housewife the equivalent of a minimum wage, considering that household work is also a full-time job.

This was revealed by Manjette Lopez, a veteran community development worker and FDC vice-president, during the International Women’s Day celebration on March 8 that was organized by the Coalition of Ormoc Women and other sectors, and attended by women’s organizations in the city.

Lopez’s talk centered on what FDC is doing and its impact on the lives of women. She also challenged the local women to support the cause that the coalition would lobby for the 2014 budget deliberations in Congress.

Her pronouncement was cheered by the audience, mostly coming from the rural sector and the working class. “All housewives in Venezuela get an allowance of the equivalent of the minimum wage,” she told them.

FDC’s study showed that “if we quantify the work of women (housewives)”, it approximates the work of maids, thus housewives also deserve to get paid even just equivalent to what a maid makes, said Lopez. Every work of housewives can be considered “social reproductive work,” but government programs could not see this.

Lopez said this matter has been one of FDC’s advocacies, and that is to put “gender lens” at the budgeting process. For example, when constructing a building, government should see to it that women have adequate comfort room facilities, she said.

Even in calamity relief operations, this is also necessary but overlooked. Most often, the special needs of women are overlooked like the feminine napkins and feminine care products. “Children are better off” because they usually get relief goods for them like infant cereal, diapers, infant milk, etc., “but not women,” said Lopez.

The FDC official said the government can source funds for housewives’ pay from the money paid by the government to loans that were either taken illegally or wasteful. The first step would be to repeal the law on automatic appropriations for paying onerous loans and allocate this instead to wages for housewives.

“Our advocacy is that we shouldn’t be paying loans that we have not benefited,” Lopez said, as she lamented the so called “Automatic Appropriations Law” that mandates the payment of foreign debts. The Philippines is the only country in the world that has such a law, she said. 

The national budget has been lopsided in favor of huge percentage for automatic appropriation to the payment of loans, and the remaining is apportioned to the various agencies of government, said Lopez.

The FDC’s thrust would be to urge the government to eschew payment of its onerous loans, 11 of which have been identified, such as the one for the Bataan Nuclear Plant, the US$503-million North Luzon Railways Project, the US$884-million South Railway project and the aborted NBE-ZTE deal.

The huge amount paid to these loans could be used for other social expenditures like paying the country’s housewives a daily minimum wage, Lopez added.  (FREEMAN)

AUTOMATIC APPROPRIATIONS LAW

BATAAN NUCLEAR PLANT

COALITION OF ORMOC WOMEN

DEBT COALITION

GOVERNMENT

HOUSEWIVES

LOPEZ

WOMEN

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