Gov’t can implement salary hike without 2019 budget – lawmakers

MANILA, Philippines – Ranking members of Congress told Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno that the government can still implement the 4th tranche of the salary hike for government workers even without the approval of the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019.

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr said the reenacted budget from 2018 covers the needed funding for the 4th and final tranche of the Salary Standardization Law. 

“My advice to Sec Diokno: do not make the reenacted budget as an excuse in not implementing salary increases for our civil servants. The DBM has all the tools in pushing through with the salary increases this year,” said Andaya on Tuesday, January 8. 

“Let me refresh the good Secretary's memory. The first round of salary increase for uniformed personnel in 2018 happened without a specific budget for it. The increase was not included in the 2018 budget proposal,” he added. 

The government is currently operating on a reenacted budget after Congress failed to pass the 2019 General Appropriations Act last year. (READ: What to expect as gov't operates on a reenacted budget

Senators had estimated that they would finish their budget deliberations by February, which is also the same month the 2019 GAA is expected to be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon agreed with Andaya and said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is equipped to implement the salary hike for government workers. 

He explained the DBM will not violate any law if it pushes through with the final salary hike, as a resolution signed by ex-president Benigno Aquino III specified that the increase should be implemented in 4 tranches up to 2019.  

“The DBM does not have to wait for Congress to approve the 2019 General Appropriations Act before it implements the 4th tranche of the salary increase. The non-passage of the 2019 national budget is a non-issue in the implementation of the salary increase because the money is there and the authorization is there,” said Drilon. 

Andaya even threatened to take Diokno to court if he fails to implement the salary increase by January 15.

"If Sec Diokno forgot how he did it, I invite him over lunch to explain how to do it. In case he is too proud to take an advice from a congressman, then we might just see each other in court. I will personally file a case for mandamus in the Supreme Court if the DBM will not implement the salary increase by January 15," said Andaya.

The GAA’s passage was primarily delayed by the House, where the 2019 budget encountered a number of obstacles, including the discovery of alleged “pork” insertions by congressmen and Andaya’s ongoing fight with Diokno.

Malacañang already admonished lawmakers that the "unreasonable" delay of the 2019 budget's passage is "unacceptable" to Filpinos. – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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