DBM scored for not giving gov’t workers salary increases
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management came under fire at the Senate on Wednesday for a perceived resistance on its part to increasing the take-home pay of government workers, particularly soldiers and policemen, despite the billions of pesos in savings that the administration instead spends on other things through its so-called disbursement acceleration program.
During a hearing on his proposal to increase the salaries of civil servants as well as soldiers and policemen, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV took the DBM to task for its opposition to a billion-peso program that would have provided representation and travel allowances to military officers.
“We provided a RATA (representation and travel allowance) schedule for the different officers based on the position that they have from commander, deputy commander, executive officer up to branch chief branch or section chief,” Trillanes said, noting that the amounts totaled “more or less a billion pesos.”
This was much, much less than the administration’s DAP fund that currently stands at P165 billion.
“The DBM was having problems how to disburse so it could have provided for [the proposed allowances]. Our problem would have been solved and it would have been a big help to our soldiers,” Trillanes added. “And it would have been certainly dispersed because soldiers and policemen are assigned all over the country.”
Trillanes asked DBM’s representative, Edgardo Macaranas, the officer in charge of the Organization, Position Classification and Compensation Bureau, to relay his sentiments to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and other superiors.
“Civil servants have RATA. The soldiers and the police don’t. And then you even opposed it. Can you tell that to your bosses? I will again push for this,” Trillanes said. “You declare a considerable amount of savings and then you will tell us here later on that you don’t have funds. Mahirap patawarin yun. Mahirap palagpasin (That’s difficult to forgive. That’s difficult to let pass).”
Macaranas earlier appeared to upset Trillanes after he showed how much government salaries have increased since the implementation of the Salary Standardization Law 3.
The DBM official also balked at giving a categorical answer on whether the budget department was in favor of another round of salary increases for the bureaucracy.
“The average salary increases for the major position categories are 38 percent for the sub-professional level, 50 percent for the professional level and 80 percent for the executive level,” Macaranas said.
“What you’re saying is that they do not deserve a salary increase? Can you go straight to the point whether DBM is supportive or not?” Trillanes shot back.
Macaranas, however, indicated that the DBM was in the middle of a salary survey of the private sector to find out if there was reason to increase salaries for similar positions in the bureaucracy.
Macaranas later on said that the DBM was not averse to the idea of another round of salary increases in the government sector “but we’d rather wait for the result of the (survey).”
Trillanes, the chair of the Senate committee on civil service and government reorganization, presided over a hearing on his Senate Bill No. 1689 or the proposed Salary Standardization Law 4 and Sen. Vicente Sotto III’s 14th Month Pay Bill.
“We’re not only pushing for this measure to alleviate the plight of our civil servants. We’re actually pushing this as an anti-corruption measure,” Trillanes said.
“We recognize how crucial the role of high-level civil servants or level-three civil servants and senior officers of the uniformed services which is why we wanted to provide for them a decent enough compensation package so they won’t be tempted to take perks and benefits elsewhere,” Trillanes added.
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