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Congress OKs salary hike of gov’t workers

The Senate and the House of Representatives approved on Monday the proposed Salary Standardization Law of 2019 (SSL V) which would increase the salaries of more than 1.4 million government employees, especially those from Salary Grades 11 to 19.

A total  of 21 senators voted for the measure, while one abstained during voting on third and final reading. 

At the House, the bill was approved on second reading and is expected hurdle final approval within the week. 

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, finance committee chair, said the Senate adopted the House version to skip the bicameral conference meeting and allow the bill to go straight to Malacanang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

Congress will go on a holiday break starting Friday this week.

Under Senate Bill 1219, the salary adjustment would be given in four tranches starting in January 2020 and ending in 2023.

The largest increases ranged from 20 to 30 percent for employees under Salary Grades 10 to Salary Grades 15, while the smallest increase would be eight percent for government workers under Salary Grades 23 to 33.

SSL V would give public school teachers salaries that were higher than their private sector counterparts by around 65 to 87 percent.

House Committee on Appropriations chair Isidro Ungab said a total of P34.2 billion has been allocated under the miscellaneous personnel benefits fund for its implementation next year.

President Rodrigo Duterte had certified the bill urgent allowing the Senate and House of Representatives to skip the three-day rule and approve the measure on third reading immediately after it is passed on second reading.

Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, the present senators, and congressmen were not entitled to the increases granted.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon made this clear during the period of interpellation, pointing out that there was a constitutional prohibition against members of Congress, the President, and the Vice President being entitled to increases enacted during their term.

Angara confirmed this and said the elected senators in the 19th Congress would receive the new higher compensation.

Drilon abstained after his proposal to have an additional across the board five percent increase was denied by the plenary.

“We dispute the proposition that (a five percent across the board additional increase) will increase substantially the funding as to adversely affect the government resources," Drilon said in explaining his vote.

“We voted to abstain because while we believe that the proposed salary increase is not sufficient, we don’t want to stand in the way of the salary increase. A negative vote would have meant that we are opposing the salary increase which we do not," he added. —DVM/LDF, GMA News