DBM to endorse EO on new salary hike for gov't workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is "open" to endorsing an executive order allowing a new round of salary hike for government workers for the period 2020 to 2022.

At the Senate budget plenary deliberations on Tuesday, November 12, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto questioned why the budget department would rather take the path of legislative approval when the President can issue an executive order to allow the salary hike, similar to what then-president Benigno Aquino III did.

"Kelan naman natin ibibigay 'yung SSL (Salary Standardization Law) 5 sa mga empleyado? 'Di ba may plano 'yung executive?" Recto asked. (When are we giving SSL 5 to the workers. Didn't the executive have plans?)

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, the sponsor of the DBM budget, said the department maintained that while the executive has the power to issue an EO, a law would have a strong basis. 

"They can do it on their own, but they would rather have the Congress appropriate the money," Angara said on behalf of the DBM. Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado was seated behind him.

Recto then responded: "The executive has one month to [issue an EO] para January, maitaas na ang s'weldo ng mga empleyado (so that when January comes, we can already increase the salaries of the employees). Just do it. Why not? Because if you let Congress do it, we'll probably give bigger."

If the DBM wants the salary hike legislated, it will take a longer time to be approved, Recto pointed out.

"The President already knows what he wants, so issue an EO," Recto said.

The Senate President Pro-Tempore then asked Angara if the DBM would be amenable to endorsing the EO to Malacañang.

Angara replied, "Secretary [Wendel] Avisado seems to be open to the idea of an EO."

Under the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, the DBM has earmarked P31.099 billion under the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund for the compensation adjustment. 

Earlier this year, the DBM organized the task force that would study the new wage structure for 2020 to 2022, as the compensation adjustment signed by former president Aquino expires this year.

Aquino issued an EO granting the pay hike as the proposed SSL at that time was not enacted by Congress, after the bicameral conference committee failed to reconcile differences over the proposed law.  Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.