Palace prodded to expedite fifth government salary hike bill
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto yesterday prodded Malacañang to submit immediately its draft seeking the fifth round of salary increases for government employees.
Recto recalled that the Duterte administration had promised earlier to increase salaries of civil servants through the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) V.
“Our early Christmas wish is for the Palace to submit the bill soon, so that Congress can debate on it and bring it to the President’s table for his signature before Christmas Day,” Recto said.
“When will it come out of the Palace kitchen? ‘Please expedite’ is not one marginal note we would like to send them, but a big shout out,” he added.
There is funding for the SSL V, according to Recto, “pre-parked” in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 in the amount of P31.1 billion.
“The money is there, the bill on its use will come later. And there is nothing wrong with putting the cart before the horse, as it assures government employees that a salary increase is a done deal,” he said.
The SSL V cannot just be a rider in the 2020 General Appropriations Act, but will require a separate law, nor can it be implemented via an executive order.
“It can only be authorized by a congressional act,” Recto said.
He added that after the uniformed services had their salary increases two years ago, the government is duty-bound to extend the same to civilian government employees.
The senator surmised that Malacañang is having a hard time calibrating the increases and apportioning how much each one would get.
“And, yes, this is not an easy exercise to pull off, as the government pay scale has 33 grades, with eight steps each, meaning 258 different pay grades must be attached with new amounts,” Recto said.
He added that P31.1 billion divided by 1.391 million civilian employees, and divided further by 13 months will result in an average of P1,718 of monthly increase per employee.
Sens. Bong Go and Joel Villanueva have filed separate bills on the SSL V. The measures are pending with the Senate committee on civil service and government reorganization, chaired by Sen. Bong Revilla.