Senate panels push for salary hike for gov't workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate bill pushing for a fresh round of salary increases for government workers is now at the plenary.

On Monday, December 10, Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto sponsored Senate Bill 1219 under Committee Report No. 26. The bill was jointly submitted by the Senate committees on civil service, government organization and professional regulation; and finance.  

The bill seeks to increase wages in 4 tranches, starting January 2020. If passed, SB 1219 would hike basic salaries by an average of 23.24% by 2023.

Revilla said that SB 1219 seeks to address the issue of "inequality" in the previous Salary Standardization Law where majority of the low-ranking government workers received "negligible increases."

"Gusto po naming siguruhin na maipatupad ang batas na ipapasa natin at maibibigay sa ating mga kawani ang inaasahan nilang pagtaas ng suweldo," Revilla said.

(We want to ensure the proposed measure will be passed and that our government workers will receive their expected salary increase.)

Under SB 1219, the highest increases ranging from 20% to 30% will be given to employees, usually teachers, under Salary Grade (SG) 10 to SG 15.

The lowest increase at 8% will be given to ranking government employees earning SG 23 (director) to SG 33 (President).

The bill adopted the recommended rates of the Department of Budget and Management.

LGU rates

Recto sponsored SB 1219 on Tuesday but expressed his reservations on the rates endorsed by the DBM, saying that he is advocating for a "higher pay for those in the lower ranks."

Recto particularly raised the question of increasing the base pay of local government employees, which is not covered under the proposed measure.

"My question is: If in this bill we are imposing the mandate for them to raise the pay of their employees, with the rates in this bill as guide, are we giving them the resources to comply?" Recto said.

In April 2019, the Supreme Court en banc affirmed its ruling of local governemnt units' "just share" from all national taxes, therefore increasing its internal revenue allotment.

Under the Local Government Code, the LGUs are supposed to get 40% of national wealth. In the old interpretation of what constitutes "just share," the 40% comes only from Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collections.

Then-budget chief Benjamin Diokno said that the higher tax share would lead to an unmanageable fiscal deficit. 

"It appears that it is only the NG that is enjoying the financial buoyancy brought about by new and higher taxes – taxes which the constituents of the local governments also pay," Recto said.

Apart from LGU share, Recto also urged the executive branch to revamp the salary grade system "so that items will be properly compensated based on the work done, experience required, competence involved and difficulty in execution."

"As I have said, I do not fully endorse the rates here, but I join the sponsors in bringing this measure to the floor in the hope that like proposals that have been here before, it can be improved by our collective wisdom," Recto said. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

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

image