MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr on Thursday, January 10, urged Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to release the salary increase for government workers for this year, insisting this is not unconstitutional even if done ahead of the passage of the 2019 budget.
“Secretary Diokno should release the pay increase for teachers in classrooms and other civil servants in government offices, which he has kept hostage,” Andaya said.
He made the call in response to Diokno’s assertion that the Department of Budget and Management could not implement the 4th and final tranche of salary hike under the Salary Standardization Law before the 2019 budget bill is signed into law.
Andaya cited allocations in the 2018 reenacted budget that can be used for the salary increase. He said there is a total of P100 billion allocated for salary increases under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund.
“Common sense for the Budget Secretary to use this amount to pay for salary increases due our civil servants. Besides, who says we need to use the full amount during the reenacted period? That budget is for the entire year. Halos isang buwan lang mahigit ang tatagal ng reenacted period o baka mas maikli pa. Ito lang ang kailangang gastusan ng DBM (This reenacted period will only last for a month or maybe even shorter. This is the only thing that the DBM has to spend for),” he said.
Andaya, who served as budget secretary during the Arroyo administration, also accused Diokno of holding back the release of government workers’ salary hike because he was angry at the House of Representatives for investigating him and his in-laws. (READ: Gov’t can implement salary hike without 2019 budget – lawmakers)
“Kung may galit si Sec. Diokno sa Kongreso dahil sa ginagawang imbestigasyon sa kanya at sa kanyang pamilya, huwag naman sana niyang idamay ang mga government workers natin. Spare them from your wrath, Mr Secretary,” said Andaya.
(If Secretary Diokno is angry at Congress because of the ongoing investigation against him and his family, I hope he will not drag government workers into this. Spare them from your wrath, Mr Secretary.)
Diokno earlier dared Andaya to “sue him” over his decision not to implement a salary hike for government workers pending the passage of the 2019 budget, as he would not carry out an “illegal” act.
The budget chief had referred to Executive Order No. 201, series of 2016, a document signed by then president Benigno Aquino III that modified the salary increase schedule for government employees.
Diokno cited Section 11, which states that the salary increase is “subject to appropriations by Congress.” Section 15 also states the funds for the salary hike must come from the GAA “duly approved by Congress.”
The country is currently operating on the reenacted P3.767-trillion budget from 2018, until senators finish their budget deliberations and President Rodrigo Duterte signs the 2019 budget in February. (READ: What to expect as gov’t operates on a reenacted budget)
The GAA’s passage was primarily delayed by the House, where the 2019 budget encountered a number of obstacles, including the discovery of alleged “pork” insertions by congressmen and Andaya’s ongoing fight with Diokno. – Rappler.com