The House of Representatives appropriations committee approved Wednesday a bill increasing government workers’ basic salaries and benefits by up to 45 percent, just two days after it was endorsed by President Benigno Aquino III.
The panel approved House Bill 6268 after a single hearing, which saw Budget Secretary Abad debating with ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio on the actual rate of increase for public school teachers and other rank and file government employees under the measure.
The approval of the bill, otherwise known as the proposed Salary Standardization Law of 2015, was opposed by Tinio.
The bill is expected to benefit around 1.3 million government workers.
Voting on the measure was marred by a brief protest held by a handful of teachers belonging to the Alliance of Concerned teachers party-list. Five teachers stood up toward the end of the interpellation period by committee members and raised paper signages slamming HB 6268 as “anti-teacher” and “anti-government employee.”
The protesters were immediately escorted out of the Andaya Hall, where the hearing took place.
During the committee deliberations, Tinio slammed the Department of Budget Management's supposedly erroneous claim that salaries of public school teachers will double compared to their private sector counterparts should the SSL of 2015 be implemented starting January 2016.
The lawmaker said a scrutiny of the measure would show that the rank and file government employees will only see their pay rise by an average of 11.89 percent over the next four years.
In response, Abad said the 11.89-percent rise in government workers’ pay only represents the increase in their basic pay.
“If you include the 14th month pay, that’s 8 percent. If you add that and the increase in the basic pay, that’s 20 percent. If you include the performance-based bonus, that’s about 10 percent, so you’re talking about 30 percent,” he explained.
Addressing Tinio, Abad remarked: “Ilagay naman natin nang kaunti sa katotohanan. Wag nating sabihin na 11.89 [percent] because [government employees] are going to get a 14th month pay mid-year and a performance-based bonus. That’s being factual about it.”
At the sidelines of the hearing, Abad explained that the executive branch decided to differentiate the increase in government workers’ pay and the provision of the 14th month pay and PBB because lumping all of them together would subject the amount to income tax, as the figure would go beyond the P82,000 cap.
“Pag ‘yung 14th month pay na 8 percent at yung PBB na 10 percent ay sinama doon sa basic pay, hindi siya exempted from tax,” he said.
As of posting time, House appropriations committee chair Rep. Isidro Ungab said the chamber is still awaiting the President’s certification of the bill as urgent so it could be put to a vote on second, and third and final reading in one day.
He said the measure could be introduced to the plenary later today if there is a quorum. —ALG, GMA News