DBM pressed on state workers’ midyear bonus

THE chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts yesterday urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to advance the release of the midyear bonus of the 1.6 million personnel of the bureaucracy.

“We should walk the talk. If the government is appealing to private employers to consider advancing the 13th-month salary of their employees to tide them over the enhanced community quarantine, the public sector should do the same. In fact, we should take the lead,” said Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, the panel chairman.

Defensor, a vice chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, said the government would have moral persuasion over private employers if the DBM releases the state workers’ midyear bonus equivalent to one-month salary ahead of schedule.

“They will consider our appeal the moment they see us setting the example and taking the lead,” said Defensor.

Defensor added that under National Budget Circular No. 579 issued by DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado last January 24, the midyear bonus in the bureaucracy is “to be given not earlier than May 15 of every year.”

“If President Duterte or the DBM authorizes its payment on March 31, we are advancing it only by one month and a half. The government loses nothing, but our employees in the bureaucracy will have more money during this emergency,” he said.

He pointed out that frontline personnel like healthcare workers need additional funds since unlike the rest of the public sector workforce who can stay home, they are required to continue working and attending to patients affected by coronavirus disease 19.

“We should in fact give our frontline workers more benefits like hazard pay for exposing themselves to risk,” said Defensor.

Avisado’s circular implements Republic Act No. 11466, the law mandating a new round of four-year salary upgrading in the government starting this year.

Defensor said state personnel are better compensated than private sector workers, since aside from the midyear bonus, they have a yearend incentive equivalent to another one-month salary, plus a P5,000 cash gift.

The yearend incentives will be paid in November, he said.