The Supreme Court on Tuesday required the Budget department to comment on the petition seeking to compel it to release the fourth and final tranche of the salary increases that government workers were supposed to receive in the last payday.
The high court ordered the department and its head, Benjamin Diokno, to answer the petition filed by 50 government personnel led by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya.
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The group sought the immediate implementation of the salary adjustment schedule even if the government was using a reenacted budget due to the delayed passage of the General Appropriations Act for this year.
Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said the high court gave the respondents 10 days from receipt of the notice to file their comment.
In its petition filed on Jan. 14, Andaya’s group said the release of the fourth tranche under Executive Order 201 signed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2016 should be a ministerial duty on the part of the Budget department.
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The petitioners cited two alternatives to cover the P42.7 billion necessary for the fourth tranche of increases”•the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund and the savings from the reenacted 2018 budget.
They said the MPBF currently had P99.446 billion, which was “allowed to be used for the payment of personal benefits such as deficiencies in authorized salaries, bonuses, allowances, associated premiums and similar personnel benefits of National Government personnel, among others.”
The petitioners said P75 billion from the MPBF fund was allotted for “Payment of Compensation Adjustment” and “Funding Requirements for Staffing Modifications and Upgrading and Salaries,” which could be used by the Budget department for the fourth tranche of the salary increases.
They suggested that the Budget department may get just one-fourth of the required funding for the fourth tranche of about P10.676 billion “to cover for the first three months of 2019… considering that the 2019 GAA may still be passed within the first quarter of the year 2019.”
As a second contingency, the petitioners said, the department may use the savings under the reenacted 2018 national budget.