Revilla asks DBM on feasibility of hiking pay for government workers

EDSA traffic
Slow-moving traffic and congestion on EDSA, a main thoroughfare across Metro Manila, as seen in January 2022, the second year of the pandemic.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — The office of Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr. is studying the feasibility of raising salaries for government employees in response to calls by public sector unions to increase the minimum salary of state workers to P33,000 a month.

The minimum wage for non-agricultural work in the National Capital Region is P537 a day or P10,740 for a 20-day work month.

Government workers led by the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) and Kawani Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon held a rally at the Department of Budget and Management in Manila last week to appeal for higher wages.

"It is only fitting that we look again at whether our government employees are still receiving enough, especially since the price of basic goods continues to rise. Next year, the last tranche of their salary increase. That's why we should visit and revise it again," Revilla said in Filipino. 

In a statement, Revilla, who chairs the Senate Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation, said he sought the comment of the Department of Budget and Management in relation to the possibility of a wage hike. 

The DBM then responded saying that it would require legislative action to increase the current salary of the nation’s government workforce. 

Budget Secretary Amenah Pagdangaman also said earlier Tuesday that the DBM would study the possibility of another round of salary increases and review the present benefits of government employees next year.

While the measure is being studied, Revilla said he also filed Senate Bill No. 1406 seeking to increase the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) granted to government employees. When enacted, the economic relief allowance will be increased from P2,000 to P4,000.

"If tax is the lifeblood of our economy, government workers are the backbone of our bureaucracy. Our government is only as strong and effective as the people who work in it. So let's support them by correcting their salaries and making them appropriate and timely," Revilla said. 

PERA is a subsidy granted to all government workers as a form of assistance to help them make ends meet in the face of dire economic conditions. The original intent of the PERA was as an emergency allowance granted since the 1990s to serve as a buffer against the rising prices of basic commodities due to oil price hikes and instability in the Middle East.

"Unfortunately, with the worsening economic conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and gasoline, I believe the current amount at P2,000 is already insufficient and needs to be adjusted," Revilla said.

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