|Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said the initial tranche of pay adjustments for 1.5 million government personnel amounting to P57.91 billion may be funded under the regular national budget for 2016.|
Malacañang said on Thursday government workers could still get the first tranche of their pay hike this year, despite the failure of Congress to enact a bill that would increase their salaries over the next four years.
Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said the initial tranche of pay adjustments for 1.5 million government personnel amounting to P57.91 billion may be funded under the regular national budget for 2016.
“The Department of Budget and Management [DBM] is preparing its recommendations to President Aquino on the possible implementation of the first tranche of salary adjustments for government employees, as provided for in the proposed Salary Standardization Law 4 [SSL4],” Coloma said in a statement.
Congress adjourned on Wednesday without passing the SSL4 bill, the enactment of which was expected to be smooth sailing as it is the Aquino administration’s “pet” bill.
However, a deadlock between the Senate and the House of Representatives over the inclusion of increases in the pensions of retired military officials caused the bill to be shelved.
Party-list Rep. Antonio L. Tinio of ACT Teachers lambasted Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV for leaving the country in the midst of a deadlock between the Senate and the House on the final version of SSL4. Congress went on an extended break on Wednesday due to the upcoming elections.
“Trillanes reportedly left for the United States on official mission last week,” Tinio said.
“What sort of elected official goes on a trip abroad in the middle of contentious bicameral talks, making it virtually impossible for Congress to pass the bill before the recess? This is gross dereliction of duty on his part,” he added.
Tinio also criticized the leadership of the Senate for authorizing Trillanes’s departure and failing to resolve the impasse before the recess.
“Is the Senate a collegial body where rule by majority prevails, or is it an exclusive club where the welfare of millions of Filipinos can be held hostage by the whims of one senator?” he asked.
The bicameral conference between the two chambers of Congress was deadlocked after the Senate panel, led by Trillanes, insisted on a provision that would index the pension of military retirees to the salary increases provided in SSL4.
Trillanes earlier said the Senate wanted to include the pension of veterans and retired military and uniformed personnel in the coverage of the bill, subject to availability of funds.
The House panel objected because of lack of funding. The Senate proposal would cost taxpayers an additional P18 billion for the first year of implementation.
Aside from sourcing the first tranche of salary increases from the national budget, Coloma said the government will also include in its budget proposal for 2017 an allocation for the second tranche of pay hikes. This proposal would be turned over to the next administration.
Earlier, House Majority Leader Rep. Neptali M. Gonzales of Mandaluyong City said the President will still have the power through an executive order to effect the same salary increase sans the SSL4.
Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said the power of the President to allocate the first tranche of salary increases for government workers is in Section 13 of Presidential Decree 985, and Item 17 (iv) of Congress Joint Resolution 4, Series of 2009. These edicts authorize the President to periodically revise or update, upon the recommendation of the DBM, the government’s Compensation and Position Classification System.
Abad said the salary increases will be retroactive from January 1, as earlier announced by Malacañang.
If the pay adjustments will be effected through an executive order by President Aquino, the DBM said it will be funded through the P100-billion Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund in the 2016 national budget.