House OKs P226-B pay hike for workers

(The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives committee on appropriations approved last night on second reading the proposed P226-billion new round of salary increase for 1.53 million government personnel.

The committee voted to endorse the adjustment as contained in Bill 6268 authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales ll, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, and Reps. Isidro Ungab of Davao City and Eleandro Jesus Madrona of Romblon, who chair the appropriations committee and the committee on accounts.

They will try to pass the bill on second reading in plenary session last night if they could muster a quorum, Gonzales said.

Bill 6268 contained the proposed Salary Standardization Law 2015 as drafted by the Department of Budget and Management on instructions of President Aquino. The salary increase would be given over four years.

The proposed P3.002-trillion 2016 national budget includes P50.4 billion for the first year of implementation of the new pay upgrading program for the bureaucracy starting on Jan. 1 next year, Ungab said.

Funding requirements for the succeeding years would be included in the annual national budget, he added.

The salaries of state personnel holding Salary Grades 1 to 11, when fully adjusted, would be more than 100 percent of their counterparts in the private sector, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said during yesterday’s hearing,

“These personnel number more than 600,000,” he said.

“Their 14th month pay, to be given middle of the year, and their year-end performance bonus of up to two months’ salary would be fully tax-exempt because the law exempts from taxation bonuses of up to P82,000.”

On the other hand, the salaries of officials would be 84 percent of private-sector pay after four years, he added.

However, in terms of amounts of increase, officials would receive far higher adjustments than low-paid personnel, Abad said.

Joint Resolution No. 4 that Congress passed in 2009 requires Malacañang to bring state salaries at par with those of the private sector, he added.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said public school teachers, nurses, soldiers and policemen would get a pay hike equivalent only to 11-12 percent of their present salaries.

“They comprise the bulk of our government personnel,” he said. “And yet, they will get only a small adjustment, while officials will receive from 100 percent to 233 percent in the case of the President.”

The lowest-paid teacher will receive an increase of P2,195 over four years, from P18,459 to P20,754, while President Aquino’s successor will get nearly P280,000, Tinio said.

“That is why public school teachers are angry,” he added.

Tinio’s computation is misleading in that “it did not include the mid-year 14th month pay, which is eight percent, and the performance bonus of up to two months, which is equivalent to 10 percent,” Abad said.

“This means that teachers will receive as much as 30-percent increase,” he said.

Tinio proposed that one month of the performance bonus be integrated into the increase in basic pay.

However, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., a former budget secretary, said the planned adjustment is a combination of an increase in basic pay and the grant of tax-exempt bonuses so that state workers would have a bigger take-home pay.

“If one month of the bonus is included in the basic salary, it would be subject to income tax, resulting in lower take-home compensation,” he said.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a former governor, expressed apprehension that many local governments would not be able to grant the new round of increase unless they dip into their development funds.

Abad said if local governments are allowed to use their development funds, most of their finances would be allocated for salaries and development projects would be sacrificed.

“It’s a policy issue that should better be resolved by Congress,” he said. “As of now, the law puts a cap on salaries so that a large part of LGU finances is reserved for development projects.”

‘Pay hike to benefit officials’

The P226-billion pay hike is meant to benefit government officials and executives, government union Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) said yesterday.

The proposal is sugarcoated to become acceptable to the public amidst the recently exposed scandalous millions of bonuses and allowances of state officials, according to COURAGE national president Ferdinand Gaite. – Jess Diaz, Rhodina Villanueva, Mayen Jaymalin

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