THE House of Representatives approved on second reading Wednesday night the Palace-backed measure to increase the salaries and benefits of 1.3 million state workers.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, defended House Bill 6268 or the Salary Standardization Law of 2015, saying the measure will provide great relief to the government workers once it is passed into law.
The bill was tackled in the plenary despite the absence of quorum.
The measure was principally authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and co-authored by Reps. Isidro Ungab, Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, Romblon Rep. Jesus Eleandro Madrona, chairman of the House committee on accounts and Minority Leader and San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.
HB 6268 was immediately calendared for committee and plenary actions after it was submitted by Malacañang last Monday.
The House committee on appropriations, chaired by Ungab, approved the measure Wednesday and had it referred to the plenary for approval on the same day.
Only Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio voted against the measure. He said the Budget Department was misleading the government workers, especially the teachers, when it claimed salaries of public school teachers will double if the bill becomes a law by January 2016.
Andaya, in his sponsorship speech, said the proposed pay hike will be implemented in four tranches over four years starting January 2016 and, upon full implementation, will bring the compensation of all government workers to at least 70 percent of market rate or up to a 45-percent increase.
“The proposed compensation plan is composed of across-the-board salary increase plus a mid-year bonus equivalent to one-month basic salary and the new Performance-based Bonus as an added bonus contingent on performance,” Andaya said.
As stated in the proposed measure, Andaya said, the 14th month pay or mid-year bonus, in addition to the present year-end bonus or 13th month pay, will account for an 8-percent increase in annual salaries.
Andaya said the PBB will be equivalent to one to two months basic salary or an 8 to 16 percent increase depending on the employee’s position.
The House was expected to approve the measure on third and final reading on the same night it approved the measure on second reading.
The leader of the independent minority bloc in the House, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, welcomed the bill’s approval.
“I congratulate our colleagues from the House committee on appropriations for immediately approving the SSL 2015 because this is a long-overdue legislation to extend economic assistance to our state workers,” Romualdez said.
“But we should further examine the measure by pushing for a higher increase than the proposal offers for low-level and middle-level employees like teachers and nurses because they need better pay the most,” he added.
“I suggest to reduce the performance-based bonus so that we can generate funds to support the basic salary instead,” he added.
Senate President Franklin Drilon filed a counterpart bill on Wednesday that provides a weighted average increase of 45 percent in the total compensation of all government personnel over a four-year period.
“The economy is in the right course and we will take advantage of the favorable condition to raise the pay scheme in the government and align it with the compensation received by employees from the private sector,” Drilon said.
“It is about time that we adjust the salaries of the hardworking men and women who have helped the government to fulfill its mandates to the people,” he added.
Drilon said the bill, co-authored by Finance Committee chair Loren Legarda, will encourage employees to stay longer in government and boost their morale and productivity.
He noted that the low pay rate is the main reason the government could not keep its employees.
Citing a study commissioned by the Department of Budget and Management, Drilon said the pay scheme in government is 45 percent below market.
This is particularly true for professionals and middle managers in government who only get around 41 percent and 25 percent of market rates, respectively, Drilon said.
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