MANILA - (UPDATED 1:45 PM) Amid spreading concern among state workers, including those from teachers and science agencies, that the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) IV would seriously dent their economic package instead of improving their lot, a "tripartite agreement" on a provision guaranteeing their so-called Magna Carta benefits stay intact has been forged.
Recto said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had concurred in a "non-diminution of benefits" clause that the senators and congressmen agreed on.
Recto praised members of the bicameral conference committee for responding positively to the concerns raised by civil servants and accepting "my proposed amendment." He was referring to his earlier letter to the House and Senate conferees, proposing an amendments that "nothing in the SSL IV shall be interpreted to reduce, diminish, or in any way, alter the benefits provided for in xisting laws on Magna Carte benefits for specific officials and employees in government, regardless of whether said benefits have been already received or have yet to be implemented." Recto explained that this merely reiterated the existing provision in the SSL III, the one in effect today.
Explicitly keeping Magna Carta benefits intact means, Recto added as an exmaple, that "teachers assigned in hardship station will continue getting their hazard pay, pursuant to the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers." The workers at the DOST and its affiliate agencies had earlier protested also the impact of SSL IV on their own Magna Carta, sparking restiveness among workers at crucial agencies like Phivolcs and PAGASA.
Besides teachers, the public health workers, spocial workers and state agency workers have their own Magna Carta laws integrating all their benefits.
Because of the non-dimunution clause in SSL IV, Recto explained, “under Republic Act 7305, public health workers will still be entitled to ‘on call’ pay, night shift differential, subsistence allowance, remote assignment and hazard allowance, among others. “
Ambiguities in the SSL bill stoked fears among civil service ranks that hard won benefits enshrined in a number of Magna Carta laws will be eroded.
The original bill, Recto said, carried provisions which could be interpreted that Magna Carta allowances “will be folded into the new salary rates or be considered as part thereof.”
After a meeting in the Senate today, the conference committee on SSL IV adjourned after failing to agree on whether to include retired military personnel, whose monthly pension is pegged to the monthly pay of their counterparts in active service, as among the beneficiaries.
“But it did so after agreeing in principle that the Magna Carta benefits will be retained,” he said.
The matrix comparing the House and Senate bills which was distributed among conferees carried the “consensus language on the non-diminution of benefits clause,” Recto said.