The case of national government personnel, including himself and President Duterte, the budget chief is not releasing funds for the pay hike until the House of Representatives and the Senate finally approve the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget and the President signs it into law.
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Pay hike for LGU, GOCC workers gets DBM nod
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno is allowing local government units (LGUs) and government corporations to start paying this year’s fourth and last annual salary increase for state workers.

However, in the case of national government personnel, including himself and President Duterte, the budget chief is not releasing funds for the pay hike until the House of Representatives and the Senate finally approve the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget and the President signs it into law.

Diokno’s tormentor in the House, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. yesterday said the budget chief signed two circulars last Tuesday authorizing LGUs and state firms to pay the increase.

“The twin circulars only mean that what we are saying is true all along. It is the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) that has the tools to implement the salary increases even under a reenacted budget,” Andaya said. ?“Secretary Diokno can use these tools to release the salary increase for other civil servants in the executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as in constitutional offices,” he said.

Diokno, in response to Andaya’s claim, said the LGUs, as well as government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), have their own funding sources to implement the fourth tranche of salary increase under the Salary Standardization Law.

Unlike national government agencies, he pointed out that LGUs have the internal revenue allotment (IRA), which can be used for the fourth tranche of salary increase. The IRA of LGUs is automatically appropriated and does not depend on the 2019 national budget.

“For government corporations, they can also pay for the fourth tranche, provided their corporate budget, which is independent of the General Appropriations Act (GAA), has been approved by their respective boards… In short, the pay of LGUs and corporate workers depend on the local budget and corporate budget, respectively,” the budget chief said. 

The DBM issuances are Local Budget Circular No. 118 and Corporate Budget Circular No. 23, which are both posted on the DBM website.

They have a similar subject: “implementation of the fourth tranche compensation adjustment” for personnel of LGUs and government corporations.

In his issuances, Diokno told governors as well as city and town mayors and heads of state firms that they have to source the necessary funds from their own budgets as the national government would not release money for the salary increase.

Andaya and a group of state workers have filed a petition with the Supreme Court to compel the DBM secretary to disburse the needed funds. 

Diokno has said he would be violating the law and the Constitution if he did that, adding that the money his House tormentor wants him to release is included in the still-to-become-law 2019 budget proposal. The government is operating on the reenacted 2018 budget.

Andaya claimed there “is no basis for the delay in the release and disbursement of funds as there are available alternative sources of funds for the fourth tranche of personnel benefits.”

He said these sources are savings last year and the P99.4-billion miscellaneous personnel benefits fund (MPBF) in the recycled 2018 outlay.

“At least P75 billion from the MPBF fund is allotted for ‘payment of compensation adjustment’ and ‘funding requirements for staffing modifications and upgrading and salaries,’ which could be used by the DBM for the fourth tranche of salary increases. Only P42.7 is needed to fund the fourth tranche,” Andaya said.

He added that Diokno’s Jan. 15 circulars show that “Secretary Diokno has the legal basis and authority to release the salary increase for government workers under a reenacted budget.”     

The pay hike completes the fourth four-year salary adjustment program in the bureaucracy, which is authorized under Executive Order No. 201, which then president Benigno Aquino III signed on Feb. 19, 2016.

Aquino did not benefit from his EO. It is Duterte and the rest of the more than one million government workers who are benefitting from it. President Duterte’s monthly pay will go up by about P102,000 to nearly P400,000 while public school teachers will receive a salary increase of P500.

In a related development, Andaya issued another invitation for Diokno to attend the third hearing on Monday of the House on “questionable budget practices” and the flood scam under the Duterte administration.

The budget secretary has repeatedly said he has been advised by his Palace bosses not to participate in the inquiry.

Monday’s hearing will focus on P168 billion worth of Department of Transportation (DOTr) projects the DBM bid out last year. Aside from Diokno, several transportation officials were invited.

Diokno said the government saved P11 billion in 2018 through DBM processes.    – With Mary Grace Padin

BENJAMIN DIOKNO LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS
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