Salaries waived for COVID-19 cause   

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    GOVERNMENT leaders are waiving their salaries to augment fiscal resources for government measures aimed at mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    “The President is donating his one-month salary for the cause,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said.

    The monthly salary of the president is P399,739 (Salary Grade 33, the highest in the bureaucracy).

    Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said some 200 members of the House of Representatives have agreed to pool together their full-month’s salaries to fund urgent projects in support of the COVID-19 fight.

    Cayetano said the House has collected more than P40 million of its target sum of P50 million. Each congressman earns a monthly salary of P295,191 (SG 31).

    At the Senate, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian asked his colleagues to also donate their salaries. A senator earns P295,191 (SG 31) while the Senate President earns P353,470 (SG 32) a month.

    Panelo said several members of the Duterte Cabinet are also donating 75 percent of their salaries from April to December, while “others have volunteered a salary deduction for the whole duration of the state of public health emergency.”

    Cabinet members or department heads receive P295,191 (SG 31) a month.

    Panelo said assistant secretaries under the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and the Presidential Spokesperson have also committed to donate at least 10 percent of their income directly to the Office of Civil Defense this month.

    He said that apart from the donation of their salaries, some members of different national government offices are already providing, and would continue to do so in the coming months, financial and relief assistance to groups who are at the frontline of the health crisis.

    Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles previously announced he was donating his salary to the COVID-19 campaign.

     DEFEAT COVID-19 COMMITTEE

     Cayetano said the House is targeting to collect P50 million from its members. “Once we hit the P50-million mark, we agreed to tap friends and donors to raise an additional P50 million. We hope to put together a total of P100 million,” he said.

    He said the body will consult with government agencies in the frontlines, including the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, then decide what projects to fund that will complement efforts of the government and the private sector in containing the spread of the COVID-19 infection.

    “We have a hearing this coming Wednesday (April 8) for the Defeat CoViD-19 Committee. There, we will have an opportunity, after consulting with the DOH and the DSWD, to decide where help is most urgent,” Cayetano said.

    “We don’t want to just go out and buy PPE sets only to find out some agency has already P2 billion or P5 billion worth of PPE coming in… or to buy food supplies when others are already doing the same. We want to use the money where it will be most effective,” he said.

    Gatchalian appealed to his colleagues to follow the sacrifice of their House counterparts.

    “One of my suggestions to our colleagues is to donate their salaries so we can help our countrymen.  We in the Senate have a lot of daily earners like our janitors and waiters, and our donation will be of big help to them,” he said.

    Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara was the first senator to donate his salary, as early as the start of the enhanced community quarantine although he did not specify how many months of his salary he has donated.

    Gatchalian said donating their salaries would be a symbol that they are one with the people in making sacrifices due to the COVID-19. – With Wendell Vigilia and Raymond Africa

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