MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and House bicameral conference committee has agreed to insert a provision in the Salary Standardization Law IV (SSL IV) guaranteeing the protection of the Magna Carta benefits of government workers.
"Yes, we will include a provision to ensure that the Magna Carta benefits of concerned agencies are not affected," Senator Antonio Trillanes IV told Rappler in a text message on Wednesday, January 27.
Trillanes is the chairperson of the Senate committee on civil service and government reorganization, and a member of the SSL IV bicameral conference committee.
SSL IV, which seeks to increase the salaries of government employees, was recently approved by the Senate.
Fears among the public sector followed because Section 8 of the bill’s versions in the Senate and House of Representatives threatens to repeal Magna Carta benefits of government workers in the education, health, science, and social sectors.
These benefits include hazard pay, night shift differential, and subsistence allowance, among others.
Among the most vocal were groups from the science sector, following a survey done by the Department of Science and Technology that shows 4,850 or 88.42% of 5,485 science and technology workers will not feel the effects of the salary increase under the current form of SSL IV.
The bicameral conference committee, however, plans to include the following provision to protect Magna Carta benefits: "Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to reduce, diminish, or alter benefits provided for in existing laws on Magna Carta benefits."
"[The additional provision] effectively inoculates Magna Carta benefits from being erased or eroded. It removes all ambiguities in the measure that can be interpreted as a pay cut, rather than a pay hike," said Recto, who said the Department of Budget and Management also concurred with the new provision.
"The SSL bill has been rectified to do just that: raise their pay and do so without cutting any of the benefits they receive under present laws," he added.
Meanwhile, Trillanes said the bicameral conference committee would have to meet again as members are still discussing whether or not retired military personnel should be included among the beneficiaries of the bill.
"That has yet to be resolved," he said. – Rappler.com