Uniformed personnel to get 20 kilos of rice per month
Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - August 17, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Starting September through the next 12 months, all uniformed personnel will receive a rice allowance of 20 kilos per month.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno yesterday said the rice allowance is a non-salary benefit that President Duterte has promised to all uniformed personnel.

The beneficiaries include the entire 130,000 servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); 150,000 in the Philippine National Police (PNP); 22,729 from the Bureau of Fire Protection and 8,835 from the Philippine’s  Coast Guard.      

Diokno did not say how much the rice allowance will cost the government. Most likely, the rice allowance would be sourced from the National Food Authority. 

Diokno stressed this is a new benefit on top of the promised doubling of salaries of the uniformed service that Duterte committed to during the camp tours he has been doing over the past weeks. 

“Definitely, it (doubling of salary) will happen but not this year,” Diokno said. “Because it involves a huge amount but we are looking for ways and means to fulfill the President’s promise.”

Diokno said he has submitted a recommendation to Duterte to start increasing the take-home pay of uniformed military and police personnel later this year or early next year.

“We will be able to fulfill the President’s promise of doubling their compensation starting in January 2018. Otherwise, it could take six years or until 2022 (when Duterte’s term ends),” he said.

Diokno made a distinction between take-home pay and basic pay.

He said the increase would be in take-home pay and in the form of allowances like hazard pay and other incentives that are not subject to income tax.

“To me, what is more important is the amount of take-home compensation,” he said.

Diokno pointed out an increase in basic salary is taxable.

Two weeks ago, addressing soldiers in Cebu City, Duterte said, “By December, you’d have doubled your salaries. The increase will start this August. Look at your pay check, it will be there.”

Last Thursday, Diokno told a Senate hearing that the administration would not be able to increase the salaries of soldiers and policemen by 100 percent by December.

This prompted Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy officer, to accuse Duterte of making an empty commitment and raising false hopes among the men and women in uniform.

Trillanes said soldiers are expecting a bigger take-home pay “when they go to the ATMs at the end of this month.”

While Diokno talked of take-home pay, Duterte referred to base pay in the budget message he submitted to Congress on Monday.

However, the President, unlike in his talks with soldiers, did not commit to a specific timeline.

“I promised to increase the salaries of our policemen, soldiers and other uniformed personnel. And I will fulfill this promise. We will pursue a law that increases the base pay of uniformed personnel but reforms the pension system of retirees,” Duterte said.

In his budget message, Duterte again reminded government workers to cut red tape and make life easier for people dealing with them.

“If you do your work well and serve the people faithfully, you will be rewarded. But if you engage in corrupt activities, make it hard for our people to access services, or just waste time until the clock strikes five, you will be dealt with accordingly,” the President said. – With Jess Diaz

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