Diokno proposes police, military pay hike to fulfill Duterte's promise
MANILA, Philippines – In order to fulfill one of President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign promises, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno submitted a proposal to increase the regular pay of uniformed personnel.
The Joint Resolution was submitted to the Office of the President but will also need Congress approval, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced on Tuesday, January 3.
If greenlighted by both Senate and the House of Representatives, the Joint Resolution will lead to a significant increase in the base pay of soldiers and police.
For instance, a Police Officer I who received a total annual compensation of P321,746 in 2015 and P355,290 in 2016 will get P473,625 in 2017, according to the DBM.
Similarly, a Private who received a total annual compensation of P330,866 in 2015 and P342,936 in 2016 will receive P436,138 in 2017.
The proposal, if approved, combined with the recent increase in combat duty pay and combat incentive pay and the second tranche of Salary Standardization, would lead to the doubling of military salaries by 2018. This was one of Duterte's campaign promises.
"The way I see it, as far as the military is concerned, we would be able to comply with the desire of the President to double their take-home pay by January of 2018," said Diokno during a Palace news briefing on Tuesday.
Diokno was optimistic that lawmakers would approve the Joint Resolution he proposed.
"Going by the behavior of Congress, they won’t object to a salary increase because it’s a popular move," he said.
What's been done
The government has sought to substantially increase the take-home pay of soldiers and police in various ways.
In September 2016, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 3 increasing the combat duty pay and combat incentive pay of the military and police.
Through the EO, the combat duty pay became 6 times higher for military and around 10 times higher for police.
If members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were paid P500 a month for combat duty pay and Philippine National Police personnel P340 a month, the EO mandated that they be paid a standard rate of P3,000 a month.
This is on top of efforts of the previous administration to increase pay of uniformed personnel.
Former President Benigno Aquino III signed an Executive Order that increased the compensation of all government workers, including military and police, in 4 tranches up to the year 2019.
The first and second tranches were already applied in 2016 and 2017 budgets.
While Aquino's EO did not raise the basic salary of AFP and PNP personnel, it gives them higher hazard pay, a provisional allowance, and officers’ allowance.
Increasing the basic salary of soldiers and police would also require higher pensions for retired soldiers and police because of the law on indexation.
Because of the tendency of retired soldiers and police to live long lives, Diokno said the increase could cause a fiscal crisis.
"[They] retire at 50 and then they receive pension for the next 40 years, that’s tremendous, that’s significant...Unless we fix that, there will come a time when maybe 70% of the budget of the military will just go to the pension," said Diokno.
Aside from the approval of the Joint Resolution, Duterte's EO No. 3, and Aquino's EO on government workers' salaries, the tax reform proposal of the Duterte administration would also contribute in increasing AFP and PNP salaries.
Duterte's economic team supports the reduction of personal income tax rate from a maximum of 32% to 25%.
Such a reduction would increase the take-home pay of all, including soldiers and police.
Congressional approval of this tax reform proposal could even speed up the doubling of soldiers' salaries.
"At the latest, January 2018 and most likely sometime next year, given the tax reform," Diokno said. – Rappler.com