Delaying pay hike of gov’t workers is unconstitutional–Andaya
MANILA, Philippines — Delaying the release of the pay increase for teachers in classrooms and other civil servants in government offices is “unconstitutional,” and an “abuse of power” on the part of Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. warned on Thursday.
In a statement, Andaya repeated his earlier stand that the fourth and last tranche of the salary increase under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) was not dependent on the budget bill and was authorized by separate laws crafted by Congress and issued by the President.
“Delaying their release is unconstitutional. The only thing it passes is the cruelty test. He [Diokno] should stop using our civil servants as pawns in his bid to avoid answering questions of public interest,” the Camarines Sur 1st District congressman said.
The SSL for civilian employees and the second round of the pay increase for soldiers, policemen, firemen, jail guards, Coast Guard personnel are “multiyear commitments” whose annual implementation were “prescribed by law cannot be suspended by the whims of one man,” Andaya said.
The House of Representatives had already approved the 2019 national budget but it remains pending in the Senate. Diokno earlier said the delay in budget approval would also halt the implementation of the fourth tranche of the SSL for civilian personnel of government this year.
Andaya, as well as other legislators, countered Diokno, saying releasing the fund for wage increase could be possible ahead of the approval of this year’s expenditure plan. The Camarines Sur congressman also threatened to sue Diokno if the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) fails to implement the SSL by January 15.
Andaya said under the reenacted budget, there is P100 billion allocated for salary increases from the Miscellaneous personnel benefits fund which the DBM could use to pay for salary increases of civil servants this year.
What Diokno can defer during the pendency of the budget approval is the release of personnel services funds for new employees, according to Andaya.
“Withholding, however, part of the salaries for services rendered by regular employees is (an) abuse of power,” he added.
‘Willing to be relieved’
There is a rift between Andaya and Diokno over the former’s investigation into alleged “flood control scam” and other anomalous budget practices under the latter’s watch.
But in a separate statement, Andaya said he is willing to be relieved from his post as Majority Leader.
“I will be the first to vote that I be relieved as Majority Leader… This job has tied me down in Manila when I should be focusing (on) Camarines Sur,” he said. /jpv
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