1 million government workers may get salary hike within February

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
1 million government workers may get salary hike within February
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno has reportedly committed to release the needed funds soon.

MANILA, Philippines — The more than one million government workers, from President Duterte down to the lowest-paid janitor or clerk, may get their salary increase this month.

The increase is the fourth and last annual installment under a four-year pay adjustment program contained in Executive Order No. 201, which then president Benigno Aquino III signed on Feb. 19, 2016.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno has reportedly committed to release the needed funds soon.

He made the commitment to Sen. Loren Legarda, who, together with Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairs the bicameral conference committee that is reconciling the divergent versions of the two chambers on the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget.

Legarda is Senate finance committee chair, while Andaya heads the House appropriations committee.

A statement released by Andaya’s office yesterday said Legarda told the budget conferees that Diokno has assured her that he would source the funds needed for the pay increase from appropriations in the reenacted 2018 budget.

“It’s good that Secretary Diokno finally admits that funds are available for the increase and that he can order their release even with stalled deliberations on the proposed 2019 budget,” the House leader, who has been engaged in a tug-of-war with the budget chief on the pay hike, said.

Andaya said if the pay adjustment is indeed released, it might make the case he filed against the budget secretary with the Supreme Court (SC) “moot and academic.”

Andaya petitioned the SC to compel Diokno to release the money for the salary increase. The tribunal has required the budget chief to comment on the petition.

Justices and other judiciary personnel are among government workers waiting for their pay hike.

If Diokno’s alleged commitment to Legarda is true, it is a turnaround from his previous stand on the salary adjustment.

Diokno has repeatedly said he would violate the law and the Constitution if he released the necessary funds, since these are included in the still-to-be-enacted 2019 budget.

He said government personnel would lose nothing, since the increase is retroactive to last Jan. 1.

Diokno and other Cabinet members are likewise affected by his decision not to disburse funds. 

Under Aquino’s EO 201, Cabinet officials and senators and House members are getting an increase of P72,000 in their monthly basic salary, from P223,590 to P295,191.

President Duterte’s pay will go up by P102,000, from P298,083 to P399,739. He has repeatedly complained that his salary was not enough for his two families.

In contrast, the lowest-paid government worker will receive a P1,000 adjustment, from P10,050 to P11,068. He will get a maximum of P11,732 depending on his length of service.

Aquino did not benefit from the salary adjustments he authorized. His monthly pay was P120,000, only a third of what Duterte is receiving.

Teachers’ honoraria

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday cautioned legislators against reenacting the 2018 budget, saying they will have no funds for the honoraria of teachers serving in the May 13 midterm polls when this happens. 

In a press conference, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the “budget in 2018 was created when there were no elections coming up... There are many items needed in 2019 that were not included in 2018, primarily the honoraria of our election workers.” – Sheila Crisostomo



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