Solon renews call to advance midyear bonus of 1.6M state personnel

A HOUSE leader on Friday renewed his call for the government to advance the midyear bonus of its 1.6 million state personnel.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said since the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced last week that funds for the bonus are already available, President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte could consider ordering agencies to release the incentive next weekend.

“If the government is appealing to private employers to pay the 13th-month salary of their employees in advance to tide them over the enhanced community quarantine, the public sector should do the same,” said Defensor, the chairman of the House committee on public accounts.

Defensor said private employers would be encouraged to heed the appeal if the midyear bonus in the bureaucracy that is equivalent to one-month salary is paid earlier than scheduled.

He added that under National Budget Circular No. 579 issued by Budget Sec. Wendel Avisado last Jan. 24, the midyear incentive is “to be given not earlier than May 15 of every year.”

“If President Duterte authorizes its payment next weekend on or April 15, we are advancing it only by one month. The government loses nothing, but our employees in the bureaucracy will have more money during this public health emergency,” said Defensor.

Defensor 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 Covid-19 patients.

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

Avisado’s circular implements Republic Act (RA) 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 because 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.