BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR and RAYMOND AFRICA
ANNUAL salary increases until 2023 for government workers is now guaranteed after President Duterte signed the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 (SSL5) into law on Wednesday night.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the salary adjustment will start this year and will be given in four tranches until 2023.
The measure, which was certified as urgent by the President during his last State of the Nation Address, aims to rationalize the compensation of all civilian personnel, including those in the legislative and judicial branches and in local government units (LGUs), and make their salaries at par with those given in the private sector.
“The new compensation scheme is competitive with those of the private sector to attract or maintain talented human resources. The Palace hopes that this latest round of salary adjustment will motivate everyone in the public sector to work doubly hard and put more dedicated and competent service in their respective jobs,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the salary increase seeks to help upgrade the standard of living of government employees, provide for a performance-based incentive scheme to reward outstanding public servants, and help create an atmosphere in government which will further promote excellent service.
Department of Budget and Management Director Gerald Janda said that “once signed into law, the first tranche of the increase in the salary of government workers will take effect starting January 1, 2020.”
Janda said the salary increase is already provided for in the recently signed 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) under the miscellaneous personnel benefits fund.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, confirmed that P33.16 billion was allotted in the P4.1-trillion national budget to cover the first of four tranches of the salary adjustment. The total funding requirement for the four tranches will reach P130.45 billion.
“This is the fulfillment of the President’s promise to increase the salaries of our public servants. It is our hardworking men and women in government who ensure that our children are getting the proper education, infants and mothers in all communities are given the appropriate health services, roads and bridges are constructed; in other words, keeping our government up and running all the time,” Angara said.
Angara, who defended the SSL-5 bill when it was debated in the Senate plenary, said the biggest increases will apply to employees with salary grades 11 to 13 or the professional level, who will see a 24.1 percent jump in their compensation in 2020 and to 30.7 percent in 2023.
The sub-professional levels or employees with salary grades 1 to 10, will see increases of 17.5 percent in 2019 to 20.5 percent in 2023.
Angara said that under SSL-5, the lowest salary grade level employee, who gets P11,068 a month, will now enjoy a higher compensation of P11,551 in 2020; P12,034 in 2021; P12,517 in 2022; and P13,000 in 2023.
He said that for Salary Grade 11 employees, which includes entry-level teachers, they will receive an increase from P20,754 a month to P22,316 (2020), P23,877 (2021), P25,439 (2022), and P27,000 (2023).
While the teachers will already enjoy pay hikes under SSL-5, Angara said he will continue to push for further increases in their compensation, “in recognition of the very important role they play in the development of our children and nation.”
Angara has filed Senate Bill 131 that seeks to increase the minimum wage of public school teachers from the present Salary Grade 11 to Salary Grade 19.
Under Angara’s proposal, the Teacher 1 level educators’ salaries will go up from the present P22,316 to P46,791 a month based on SSL-5 levels.
“We hear the pleas of our teachers and understand where they are coming from. Our teachers are among the hardest workers in the bureaucracy and have long been among the lowest paid. We need to do something about this soon,” Angara said.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines is not happy with the new law, decrying that the law will only allow teachers to get a meager salary increase in the course of four years.
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said the continued neglect of the plight of teachers reflects on the government’s disregard to the youth’s right to quality education.
“Teachers play a key role in national development as frontliners in the delivery of education – a social service and an essential element in achieving peace and progress in the country,” Basilio said.
Basilo said the additional P1,500 per year until 2023 will only be directed to the increases in mandatory contributions and direct and indirect taxes, and will not help uplift the financial statuses of teachers.
“Three long years we have waited and worked for ours and our students’ welfare, only to be served yet another injustice,” he said. – With Rod Lagusad