By FRED M. LOBO
President Duterte has pushed for the approval by Congress of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL 5).
Here comes another round of basic salary increases for civilian government workers.
The President certified as urgent the salary measure, prompting senators to approve Senate Bill No.1219 on third and final reading.
The three-day rule in approving legislation was done away with, thanks to Ninong Digong.
Congressmen at the House of Representatives had earlier approved their version of the measure granting salary increases to civilian government personnel, including nurses and teachers, within a period of four years effective January 1.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon abstained from voting on the SSL 5, calling instead for a 5-percent across-the-board increase on the salaries of government workers on top of the proposed rates in SB 1219.
“We dispute the proposition that it will increase substantially as to adversely affect the government resources… [but] we do not want to stand in the way of the salary increases. As they say, a glass half-full is better than an empty glass,” he said.
But majority of the senators, led Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, defended the bill, saying the Drilon’s proposal would require P60 to P65 billion.
More funds are also needed for the implementation of the Universal Health Care and the tertiary education programs, the senators said.
Under SB 1219, the salary adjustments for civilian government workers will be implemented in four tranches starting January, 2020, until 2023.
Those in Salary Grade (SG) 10 to SG 15 ( including teachers) will receive the highest increase, ranging from 20 to 30 percent.
Only 8 percent will be granted to those in SG 23 to SG 33 (which include secretaries, undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries), while incumbent legislators, the President, and the vice president will not get any salary increase.
Social justice dictates that those who have less in life shall have more in law.
Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations,
cited the need to upgrade the salary schedule, and to speedily approve House Bill 5712, principally authored by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Deputy Speaker and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, and himself.
“Merry Christmas to government employees!” they chorused after the approval of the bill.
Meanwhile, President Duterte announced that he will not seek another extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Thanks to the weakening of the terrorist rebellion in Southern Philippines, Malacañang and the defense establishment said.
“President Rodrigo RoaDuterte is not extending martial law. It will expire on December 31, 2019,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a press conference.
“His decision is based on the assessment of the security forces as well as defense advisers that the terrorist and extremist rebellion have been weakened as a result of the capture or neutralization of their leaders as well as there has been decreased in index crime,” Panelo said.