More than 10,000 Makati City government workers will not be receiving salary increases this year after 12 members of the City Council allied with the opposition continue to delay the approval of the 2019 executive budget.
This was revealed on Thursday by council presiding officer Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo, who decried what she described as “inordinate delay” in the budget approval, which has prevented the city government from implementing the salary increases mandated by law.
“Our city government personnel stand to lose additional income due them because of the 12 councilors from the opposition who have caused inordinate delay in the approval of the 2019 executive budget,” Lagdameo said.
Based on Executive Order No. 201 issued by then President Benigno Aquino II in 2016, the fourth tranche of salary increases for city government workers under the Salary Standardization Law took effect last Jan. 1.
As a first class city, Makati is allowed to implement 100 percent of the salary schedule in all four tranches. Pending Council approval of the Appropriation Ordinance, however, the salaries and wages of employees will have to be computed based on 2018 rates.
Lagdameo said the opposition councilors, during the Council’s two consecutive sessions on Jan. 9 and 16, again deferred action on the proposed Appropriation Ordinance approving the P18.17-billion executive budget for 2019.
The councilors are running under the ticket of former mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, who is seeking a comeback against her sister, incumbent Mayor Abigail Binay, in the upcoming midterm polls.
“The Appropriation Ordinance has been calendared since Oct. 24, 2018 and marathon budget deliberations by Committee members had been conducted from Nov. 12 to Dec. 19, 2018 with all the departments and offices of the city government. Yet, the opposition continues to hold the budget approval in abeyance,” Lagdameo said.
She recalled that in the past two years, the City Council had promptly approved the executive budget. The 2017 budget was approved on Dec. 22, 2016, while the 2018 budget was approved even earlier, on Nov. 17, 2017.
“Despite the exhaustive budget hearings held jointly prior to the holiday break, the Committees on Appropriations and Budget and on Laws, Rules and Ethics have yet to produce a formal Committee report on their findings and observations. Instead of presenting a detailed report on the results of the budget reviews, the opposition has been bringing up issues on the floor in a piecemeal manner, further delaying the budget approval,” Lagdameo said.
Members of the majority bloc who have consistently voted to defer the budget approval are Majority Floor Leader and Head of the Committee on Laws, Rules and Ethics, Councilor Nemesio Yabut Jr.; Councilor Divina Jacome, Head of the Committee on Appropriations and Budget; Councilors Shirley Aspillaga, Grazielle Iony De Lara-Bes, Ferdinand Eusebio, Leonardo Magpantay, Romeo Medina, Arlene Ortega, Nelson Pasia, Mary Ruth Tolentino, Marie Alethea Casal-Uy, and Evelyn Delfina Villamor.
The minority members pushing for the prompt approval of the budget consist of Minority Floor Leader Councilor Maria Concepcion Yabut, and Councilors Virgilio Hilario, Jr., Luis Javier, Jr., Armand Padilla, and Rodolfo San Pedro, Jr.
Lagdameo said a reenacted budget implies a number of disadvantages for city government employees as well as residents.
“With a reenacted budget, we will not only deprive City Hall employees of the additional income but will also be unable to implement innovative programs and projects intended to deliver more and better services to Makatizens,” she stated.
The vice mayor cited the case of city workers under Job Order, whose daily wage of P512 was adjusted last October to P537 to match the current daily minimum wage. With a reenacted budget, however, the city government will have to revert to the old rate for JO employees, which is below minimum wage.
She added that the new Casual Plantilla in the 2019 budget, which includes new casual positions recommended by most departments to fill in the gaps in their regular plantilla, cannot be implemented. Thus, the urgent need for personnel with technical expertise to enhance efficiency of services will remain unaddressed, she said.
Under Section 323 of the Local Government Code of 1991, in case the Sanggunian fails to pass the ordinance authorizing the annual appropriations at the beginning of the ensuing fiscal year, it shall continue to hold sessions, without additional remuneration for its members, until such ordinance is approved, and no other business may be taken up during such sessions.
If the Sanggunian still fails to enact such ordinance after 90 days from the beginning of the fiscal year, the ordinance authorizing the appropriations of the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect until the ordinance authorizing the proposed appropriations is passed by the Sanggunian.
However, only the annual appropriations for salaries and wages of existing positions, statutory and contractual obligations, and essential operating expenses authorized in the annual and supplemental budgets for the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted, and disbursement of funds shall be in accordance therewith.