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President Benigno Aquino III may issue an executive order (EO) increasing the salaries of government employees if Congress fails to break the impasse on the proposed Salary Standardization Law IV (SSL IV) and the measure is not approved before sessions adjourn on Feb. 5, a House leader said.

Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II, however, said the EO, would only lead to a one-time uniform raise in workers’ salaries instead of an increase spread over the next four years.

“Dahil may budget na [para sa SSL IV], nothing prevents the President from issuing an executive order [for] a one-time [increase], na a certain percentage of government employees’ salaries will be adjusted,” he told reporters Monday.

“[Although] bahala na si Presidente [kung mag-i-issue siya ng EO], ma-de-defeat ang additional purpose ng SSL bill na hindi lang ma-i-increase ang sweldo ng mga nasa baba na government employees, kundi para siguraduhin na 'yung mga senior officers ay hindi lalayasan ang gobyerno,” the lawmaker added.

The proposal for the President to issue an EO, Gonzales said, was based on his discussion with former Budget Secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr.
The bicameral conference committee tackling the bill is in an apparent deadlock over a provision that includes the pension of retired uniformed personnel in the measure’s coverage.

Police, military officials
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has insisted on including former military and police officers’ pension in the bill while the House version suspends its indexation.

Gonzales said his colleagues oppose Trillanes’ suggestion because it cannot be funded by the government.

He said the executive branch would need to shell out P122 billion to increase the pension of an estimated 211,000 retired uniformed personnel, while 1.53 million government employees, including active police and military officials stand to benefit from the total P225.8 billion to be allocated for the SSL IV’s implementation until 2020.

Congress has set aside P57.9 billion to fund the proposed salary hike of government employees this year.
The bicameral panel has met once on the bill but has yet to meet again.

Should legislators fail to approve the SSL IV bill, Gonzales said the budget allotted for its implementation for 2016 will become savings that the executive may use in accordance with existing rules.

SSL is not dead
Despite the ongoing gridlock between the Senate and House, the House leader remains hopeful that Congress will have the measure passed in last three session days before the election campaign season starts.

“I’m sure both the highest leaders of the two houses of Congress will be talking to each other on how to break the impasse para naman before we adjourn, baka mayroon kaming ma-ratify na reconciled version of the SSL IV,” he said.

The House leader appealed to his Senate counterparts to consider the welfare of civilian employees first and agree to index the pension of retired uniformed personnel for the time being.

"Let's consider first the greater number of our civilian employees.'Yung 1.5 million government employees, 'yun muna ang pag-usapan natin," he said.

In case the House and Senate fail to ratify the measure this week, Gonzales said the two chambers could tackle it when sessions resume on May 23. However, he said he is uncertain as to whether the bill's applicability will be retroactive if it is passed much later.

"Hindi nangangahulugan na kapag may deadlock kami, patay na [ang SSL IV]," Gonzales said. – VS, GMA News

SOURCE: GMA NEWS

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