Metro Manila, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said he wants the Senate to pass the proposed ₱150 across-the-board wage increase before year-end or by December, adding senators are “laser-focused” on its passage.

“The cost of living has increased all over the country and they need that decent wage para makabuhay sila nang disente, kaya itutulak talaga namin ‘yan [so they will have decent living. That’s why we will push for it],” Zubiri told reporters.

“We are laser-focused on that,” he added. “Marami lang issue na dumarating [It’s just that many issues are surfacing]. We will take it up to the floor and pass it as a shared advocacy of the Senate.”

Last March, Zubiri filed Senate Bill 2002, or the Across-the-Board Wage Increase Act of 2023 that seeks a pay increase of ₱150 nationwide. A ₱40 daily minimum wage increase in the National Capital Region was approved in June.

Zubiri said that while it is not among the priority bills listed in the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council, it is important that the “Senate will make a stand.”

Once passed, he said he would convince President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to consider the proposal.

“Kapag pumayag siya ay [If he approves the proposal] hopefully the lower house will be able to pass a similar measure so by next year it will be a great Christmas gift for the Filipino people for 2024,” he added.

Zubiri also told the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to not be neutral on the issue of raising the minimum wage and urged the agency to “always fight for the welfare of the laborers.”

The Senate Committee on Finance on Thursday conducted a hearing for the proposed budget of DOLE for 2024. Senators asked labor officials to work on providing Filipino workers with a living wage.

Think tank IBON Foundation pegs the daily living wage for a family of five in NCR at ₱1,164, nearly 48% higher than the ₱610 minimum wage in the region.

Members of the House of Representatives have previously asked the DOLE how soon wage hike petitions in other regions will be approved.

Maria Criselda Sy, executive director of the National Wages and Productivity Commission, said the timeline for resolving wage hike petitions varies across regions because their schedules for holding public consultations and hearings are different.

“It’s something we have to balance to ensure that we try to address and provide social protection to vulnerable sectors, we are able to complement this with countryside development,” Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma also told senators.

He added DOLE is with the lawmakers in its goal to uplift the conditions of workers.