Sorry, no PNP, AFP pay raise
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Thursday said the government would not be able to fulfill President Duterte’s commitment to double the basic salary of state forces in his first year in office, saying the P3.35-trillion proposed budget for 2017 did not include allocation for such purpose.
Mr. Duterte’s vow to increase the gross pay of personnel of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines was an integral part of his campaign during the May 9 elections, which he anchored on a no-nonsense approach to solving crimes.
The President said providing better compensation to law enforcement agents would discourage them from engaging in unlawful activities like protecting illegal drug syndicates.
He even dangled cash reward of as much as P5 million to policemen who would kill big-time drug lords.
However, Diokno said the realization of the President’s campaign promise may have to be on the back burner for the meantime as the government would have to address other pressing financial issues besetting the PNP and the AFP.
“There’s none. It’s not included,” Diokno said when asked if the 2017 budget contained the salary increase of soldiers and policemen as promised by the President.
“We’re studying that. In fact, we are trying to consider everything. The problem is that the government already owes so much to the pension fund of the (soldiers) and policemen. It has ballooned,” he said after presenting the Duterte administration’s first proposed budget.
But the budget chief said AFP and PNP personnel would receive a pay increase next year as part of the second tranche of the Salary Standardization Law which then President Benigno Aquino III had signed.
Diokno said he would discuss the matter with Mr. Duterte, who was known to adopt the carrot-and-stick approach in disciplining policemen when he was the mayor of Davao City.
He said he would announce “in two weeks’ time” how the Department of Budget and Management would address the issue.
“We want to bring it up with the President, but we have to be sensitive on how to address this problem. Otherwise, the day will come that 80 percent of the military budget would be on pension only,” Diokno warned.
He noted that soldiers usually “live longer” after retiring from the service at the age of 56 as mandated by law.
“They (soldiers) retire early and … live long. Look at FVR. He’s still alive,” he said, referring to former President Fidel Ramos, a retired chief of the Philippine Constabulary, the PNP’s predecessor.
“In fact, the pension of the military is higher than the salary of the incumbent (personnel). That’s how big that problem is. And nobody talked about this for the last 15 years,” Diokno said.
Asked if the government would have to postpone the purchase of military hardware, he said: “I think so.”
Diokno then broached the idea of enlisting the services of members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps who, he said, were not entitled to pension benefits.
“For me, I’m for smaller, leaner, better-trained Armed Forces,” he said.
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