January 18, 2016
The Senate gave its approval to the proposed Salary Standardization Law IV, which seeks to introduce a higher compensation system for all government employees, including nurses, teachers and soldiers.
Senate Bill No. 2671, sponsored by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Sen. Chiz Escudero as co-sponsor, was approved on third and final reading with 19 affirmative votes, no negative vote and no abstention. The measure took into consideration similar bills filed by Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Assistant Minority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto and Senators Loren Legarda, TG Guingona III and Cynthia Villar.
The proposed bill hurdled the Senate last December 14, 2015, but was returned to the plenary the next day, December 15, for reconsideration.
The bill passed on second reading after the inclusion of amendments introduced by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who proposed to delete the provision suspending the "indexation of pension benefits with the base pay of those in the active service, insofar as the base pay increase authorized in this Act."
In explaining the measure, Trillanes said the SSL IV would be implemented in four tranches, starting from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2019, to ensure that state workers would receive a higher net take-home pay that is "fair, reasonable, in recognition of fiscal realities."
He said the Senate approved the 2016 General Appropriations Act, which already included a P57.9 billion allocation for the implementation of the first tranche of wage hikes planned under the SSL IV this year.
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Drilon said the SSL IV was also intended to attract more professionals into the public workforce by making compensation for all civilian government personnel "competitive with those doing comparable work in the private sector," noting that a study commissioned by the Department of Budget and Management pegged the government's pay scheme at 45 percent below market.
Drilon said that reforming the low pay rates in the public sector "will solve the exodus of government workers who leave their posts to seek greener pastures in the private sector and abroad." Similarly, Trillanes said the pay increase for military and uniformed personnel sought to promote "pay equity for an effective, efficient, committed, competent and motivated corps of officers and enlisted personnel."
Trillanes said the higher wages to be introduced under the SSL IV would serve as an anti-corruption measure: "Due to the competitive compensation package, our public servants can be effectively discouraged from resorting to scrupulous activities in order to augment their meager income and instead, focus their efforts and energy on serving the public, curbing corruption and cutting red tape."
According to Trillanes, the proposed measure will introduce a new compensation and position classification system (CPCS) which will bring the pay of government personnel closer to prevailing rates in the private sector, or to at least 70 percent of the market rate for all salary grades.
This means government personnel like nurses who are currently receiving P24,887 per month (under Salary Grade 15) will have their salaries raised to P26,192 next year. In the final year of the SSL, their monthly salaries shall have been raised to P30,531. He said the minimum basic salary for civilian government personnel (Salary Grade 1 or "Administrative Aide") would be raised from the current rate of P9,000 to P11,068.
A similar hike, Trillanes said, would be applied to the pay of military and uniformed personnel, as army privates, apprentice seamen and police officers of the lowest rank would have their monthly salaries raised from P14,834 to P16,597.
Aside from the increases in the monthly salary of government personnel, the proposed measure also introduces an improved set of allowances and benefits, such as 14th month pay, a mid-year bonus, and an enhanced performance-based bonus which can be equal or double the monthly salary.
"The bill will maximize the employees' net take-home pay and recognize the government personnel who play a greater role and carry a heavier responsibility in improving government performance," Trillanes said.