LAWMAKERS from the House of Representatives want specifics on the P39.5 billion under the General Appropriations Bill for 2017 supposed to be used for the proposed additional wages of police and soldiers.
They said they will seek some clarification from Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said the legislators would ask the DBM about the matter when the administration’s economic managers go to Congress on Monday to defend the national budget.
Nograles said they want to know the specifics on the use of P39.5 billion which shall be sourced from the P96-billion Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund.
“There was this P39.5 billion funding for the salaries of our police and military personnel. But we will seek clarification from Sec. Diokno for the details,” Nograles told a news conference.
While Congress supports the proposed additional salaries and allowances for policemen and military, Nograles stressed, “at the end of the day, we will work on giving them [police and
military personnel] the needed financial package as desired by President Duterte.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., a former DBM secretary, earlier proposed additional allowances for policemen instead of raising to P50,000 the rookie cops’ monthly pay.
Andaya, a former chairman of the House committee on appropriations, explained the Duterte administration will face financial concern as the government is now implementing the four-year salary increase for state officials and employees.
He said giving additional allowances is feasible with the very same intention of increasing the “take home pay” of policemen.
“We are just at the beginning of a four tranche salary increase which will end in 2019. That is why the wiser approach is thru allowances, so that we can assess their individual needs,” Andaya said.
Andaya explained the government has begun implementing the Executive Order that former President Benigno Aquino III signed increasing the salaries of government officials and employees including those in the uniformed services until 2019.
Earlier, Diokno said the salary increase that President Rodrigo Duterte promised to security forces cannot yet be implemented in August or even the rest of the year because there is no appropriation in the budget for the purpose.
“We cannot promise this August because, as you know, there is nothing in the budget for that. I don’t want to commit a violation of the [Disbursement Acceleration Program] rule [of the Supreme Court]. We cannot spend on something that is not authorized by Congress,” Diokno said.
The budget department, however, is “looking at a three-year trajectory” to fix the current salaries and at least increase the “take home pay” of soldiers, if not their full salary, Diokno said.
“Maybe [in the] last quarter, we’ll give them rice allowance of 20 kilos per month,” the same amount allotted for beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program, “but we’re very careful not to spend for something Congress never authorized,” he said.
Diokno said he could not reveal specifics because he would need Duterte’s approval “but the idea is really to double their take-home pay, not necessarily the basic pay because, as you know, this has an implication [on] the pension[s] of the military,” he said.
Diokno said it is possible to implement if Congress will enact a law on the pension system of security forces.
“Let me just tell you that, at the present, the pension of the military is now much bigger than the salary of the soldiers. That’s how big the problem is,” he said.
“But we are committed to double the take home pay of the soldiers, we call it the MUP, the military and uniformed personnel: AFP, PNP, Coast Guard and Firemen,” he said.