SC asked to com­pel re­lease of gov’t salary hike

Business World - - The Economy - Vil­le­gas Vann Marlo M.

HOUSE Ma­jor­ity Leader Rolando G. An­daya, Jr. asked the Supreme Court to com­pel Bud­get Sec­re­tary Ben­jamin E. Dio­kno to re­lease the fourth round of gov­ern­ment salary in­creases even ahead of the ap­proval of the 2019 Bud­get.

Mr. An­daya, of the first dis­trict of Ca­marines Sur, filed a pe­ti­tion for a writ of man­damus be­fore the Supreme Court along with 50 other sig­na­to­ries from var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

The 2019 Bud­get, which re­mains un­ap­proved with the re-en­acted 2018 bud­get cur­rently in force, was to have au­tho­rized the fourth round of salary in­creases for civil ser­vants, though Mr. An­daya and his co-pe­ti­tion­ers claim that the ap­pro­pri­ate mech­a­nism for re­leas­ing the salary in­crease is to fund it for the time be­ing us­ing the P99-bil­lion mis­cel­la­neous per­son­nel ben­e­fits fund (MPBF) of the re-en­acted 2018 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Act (GAA).

“The use of the MPBF is not merely a novel or the­o­ret­i­cal idea crafted by herein pe­ti­tion­ers. In fact, Sec­tion 46 of the 2018 GAA al­lows the use of MPBF since the law in­structs the ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment that it may use funds

ap­pro­pri­ated for Per­son­nel Ser­vices for the pay­ment of ap­pro­pri­ate ben­e­fits,” they said in the pe­ti­tion.

The pe­ti­tion­ers also ar­gued that funds in the re-en­acted bud­get orig­i­nally ap­pro­pri­ated to projects that were com­pleted

in 2018 may be aug­mented as “there is a high prob­a­bil­ity for funds or sav­ings that will not be uti­lized and will sim­ply be sit­ting dor­mant.”

“It bog­gles the mind as to the (Bud­get) Sec­re­tary’s staunch op­po­si­tion to pur­sue other al­ter­na­tive

so­lu­tions when these so­lu­tions are not even novel and have been pur­sued by past ad­min­is­tra­tions,” they said, adding that the 2018 GAA pro­vides that sav­ings be first used as pay­ment of per­sonal com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits.

The fourth salary in­crease, which should have taken ef­fect on Jan. 1, is the fi­nal tranche of the salary stan­dard­iza­tion law which started in 2016 through Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 201.

How­ever, Mr. Dio­kno has said that the salary hike will not be im­ple­mented un­less the Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Bill for 2019, still pend­ing at the Se­nate, is ap­proved. He added that gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees can ex­pect to re­ceive their salary in­creases in Fe­bru­ary when the 2019 na­tional bud­get is ex­pected to be signed into law.

For his part, Mr. An­daya said it is Mr. Dio­kno’s “le­gal duty” to re­lease the salary in­crease of the gov­ern­ment work­ers.

“It is his duty to re­lease it by Jan. 15. He can­not hold it hostage to force ap­proval of the 2019 bud­get,” he told re­porters.

“We call on the mag­is­trates to, if pos­si­ble, set this im­me­di­ately for oral ar­gu­ments and de­cide on it be­cause by Jan. 15, gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees should re­ceive their in­crease,” he added.

Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Sal­vador S. Panelo, in a brief­ing, said the na­tional bud­get needs to be en­acted for the re­lease of the fourth salary hike.’

“Where will you get the money for the fourth (tranche). But as soon as the bud­get is en­acted, that’s pre­cisely why we were urg­ing gra­ciously the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to fin­ish as well as the Se­nate to ap­prove the bud­get,” he said. —

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