Taxpayers to subsidize P20 B for AFP, PNP pension hike?
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Unlike the vetoed P2,000 Social Security System (SSS) pension increase, for which President Aquino does not want to use public funds, taxpayers would be asked to subsidize a higher pension rate for retired soldiers and policemen.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is now scrounging for fund sources in the 2016 national budget to finance the hiked pension, which is part of the Senate version of the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) 4 or the fourth multi-year government-wide salary increase program supposed to take effect last Jan. 1.

But government nurses and other health workers, along with state science and technology employees, are not happy with this development as they criticized the proposed repeal of the Magna Carta for Health Workers and the Magna Carta for Science and Technology Workers.

The health group also scheduled a national protest on Jan. 28.

Robert Mendoza, Alliance of Health Workers president, explained that an SSL approval would repeal the Magna Carta and eventually give workers lower income.

“While SSL passage provides for a P2,000 increase in the monthly pay of health workers, it would also mean losing P10,000 to P15,000 in benefits that are provided under the Magna Carta,” he explained.

Angelo Palmones, president of Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan, gave the same argument, stressing that a repeal shows how the government fails to appreciate science and technology workers and to encourage them to stay and serve the country.

He pointed out that science and technology workers fought hard for the Magna Carta, which was enacted in 1997 but funded only in 2012. Before that, the benefits given them were funded through savings the department made.

The House of Representatives and the Senate are determined to pass the proposed SSL 4 before the Feb. 6 adjournment for the election campaign, said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

SSL 4 contains the planned four-year salary increases for the 1.5 million government personnel, although the House and Senate versions still need to be reconciled.

The House version does not provide for an increase in the pension rates of military and police retirees while the Senate version has it indexed in the salary increases for active members.

Belmonte said he would have preferred that the Senate tackled its indexation proposal in another bill, since funding for the House version has already been included in the 2016 budget.

Reconciling the two versions would mean convening a conference committee to look again into the salary increase law.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House appropriations committee, said an initial estimate of P20 billion is needed to increase the military and police pensions.

The amount, he said, was not included in the 2016 national budget and would force the DBM to look for fund sources. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Rainier Allan Ronda

 

ALLIANCE OF HEALTH WORKERS ANGELO PALMONES DAVAO CITY REP DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT GRUPONG HALIGI HEALTH WORKERS AND THE MAGNA CARTA HOUSE AND SENATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE ISIDRO UNGAB MAGNA CARTA WORKERS
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