Pay hike under reenacted budget constitutional, Andaya tells Diokno

Benjamin Diokno

BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno was reminded by a House Leader that salary increase a under reenacted budget is constitutional.

What is unconstitutional is delaying the release, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said.

For the nth time, Andaya asked Diokno to release the last tranche of the salary adjustment for government workers.

Diokno is insisting that the release will be delayed due to the failure of the Congress to pass the 2019 national budget.

“Delaying their release is unconstitutional.  The only thing it passes is the cruelty test.  He should stop using our civil servants as pawns in his bid to avoid answering questions of public interest,” Andaya said.

Andaya said Secretary Diokno should release the pay increase for teachers in classrooms and other civil servants in government offices, which he has taken hostage.    

“The increases are not GAA-dependent and are authorized by separate laws crafted by Congress and issued by the President himself,” Andaya said.      

The House leader said salaries of government officials as determined by existing pay scales are deemed in force regardless of the status of the national budget.       

He further explained the Salary Standardization Law 4 for civilian employees and the second round of the pay increase for soldiers, policemen, firemen, jail guards, Coast Guard personnel are multiyear commitments. Their annual implementation as prescribed by law cannot be suspended at the whim of one man.      

Under the Diokno doctrine, debt servicing to foreign banks will go on as scheduled but salary hikes of government men are frozen.

What he can defer during the pendency of the budget approval, Diokno said, is the release of   personnel services (PS) funds for new employees.

However, withholding, part of the salaries for services rendered by regular employees is abuse of power.      

“Hindi rin totoo ang sinasabi niya na hindi sapat ang pondo ng gobyerno para magbigay ng salary increase sa panahon na nasa reenacted budget tayo,” Andaya said.   

Under the reenacted budget, there is P100 billion allocated for salary increases under the MPBF. Double the amount of what is in the 2019 proposal. “Common sense for the Budget Secretary to use this amount to pay for salary increases due our civil servants,” Andaya said.    

“Besides, who says we need to use the full amount during the reenacted period? That budget is for the entire year. Halos isang buwan lang mahigit ang  tatagal ng reenacted period o baka mas maikli pa. Ito lang ang kailangang gastusan ng DBM. Secretary  Diokno should stop treating the national budget as his personal kitty. Hindi niya pera ito. Pera ito ng mamamayan,” Andaya said.

“Our civil servants deserve the salary increase due them this year. Pay them now, not later. Kailangan ng mga kababayan natin ang bawat pisong ayuda na maibibigay ng gobyerno,” he added.