By Ben Rosario
The Duterte administration will grant salary increases to all government workers by setting aside P110 billion, and will spread the amount over a three year period to achieve it.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte-Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said the first tranche of P32 billion in additional pay will be available in 2020. The proposed pay adjustments will also apply to government nurses and teachers.
In fact, the amount, plus P4 billion in miscellaneous benefits are already included in the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Act that will be passed by the House of Representatives before October 4.
“Using the study commissioned by GCG-DBM, the Administration is set to spend P110 billion over three years for its civil servants including nurses and teachers,” said Salceda, referring to the Government Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations – Department of Budget and Management.
Salceda, also vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, stressed that the proposed allocation has “been programmed within the organic capacity of the government and need no new taxes to underwrite it.”
This will be the fifth SSL version to be implemented by government.
However, no SSL bill seeking to increase salaries of civil servants has been filed yet in the Lower House.
Two measures, authored by Reps. Elisa Kho (NPC, Masbate) and Rozzano Rufino Biazon (PDP-Laban, Muntinlupa City), were filed, proposing to exempt from SSL all government doctors and employees of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Salceda explained that compared to the past SSL, the Duterte government salary hike will “favor SG (salary grade 1-17) with higher increases while those SG 18-33, including the president and congressmen, will receive lower increases.”
The 2019 salary grade table shows that the president receives a maximum P399,739.00 monthly pay under SG 33, while a congressman’s highest monthly salary is P295,191.00 for SG 31.
“The adjustments will preserve and somewhat improve the purchasing power of civil servants considering the consumer price inflation of 3.4 percent over the past three years ( 2016 – 1.8 percent, 3.2 percent – 2017, and 2018 – 5.2 percent), and forward estimates three-year inflation of 2-4 percent per year,” said Salceda.
The salary increase for all government workers, instead of limiting the benefits to teachers and nurses, was by several House members.
Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said extending adjustment of salaries for teachers and nurses will only result to wage distortion in the government service.
Gaite, who used to head one of the biggest government employees groups in the country, said adjustment in salaries of State workers should be applied to all, instead of limiting such benefit to school teachers.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (CDP, Cagayan de Oro City) shared the same view as he batted for an across-the-board salary adjustment to help government employes counteract the effects of rising cost of living.
“I would prefer salary increases for all government workers. However, if government does not have enough money, we can start adjusting pay for teachers and nurses,” said Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Reform.
The stand of the two lawmakers is supported by a recent Pulse Asia survey that indicated that 77 percent of Filipinos aged 18 years old and above are inf favor of full coverage of salary adjustments to all workers in the public sector.
In its June 24-30 survey, Pulse Asia disclosed that respondents from the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao want all government employees be included in the next round of salary standardization.