By Ben O. de Vera, March 14 2019; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Image Credit to Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — Government employees whose fourth tranche of salary increase was delayed by the impasse in the approval of the P3.757-trillion national budget may receive their much-awaited pay hike through an executive order (EO) by President Rodrigo Duterte, said Acting Budget Secretary Janet B. Abuel.

The officer-in-charge of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) told a press conference after Wednesday’s Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) meeting that an EO would allow the government to disburse the salary adjustments in case the reenacted budget drags.

This was in contrast to an earlier pronouncement of former DBM chief and now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno that only with the 2019 appropriations could the government implement the salary hike mandated under Executive Order (EO) No. 201 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2016.

But Abuel said the DBM was still hopeful that the 2019 general appropriations act would be approved ahead of an issuance of the EO they recommended to implement the fourth tranche of salary adjustment.

To recall, House appropriations committee chair Rolando Andaya Jr. in February told the Inquirer that a draft EO providing funding for the pay increase under last year’s Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) was already “on the President’s desk for them to give the fourth tranche using the funding source which I actually said.”

Diokno had said Andaya’s claim that the salary hike can be implemented without the 2019 budget in place had “no legal basis.”

Also, Diokno had claimed that the MPBF could only cover salaries in 2018.

Himself a former budget secretary under former president and now House Speaker Gloria Arroyo, Andaya had said DBM employees earlier confirmed to him the forthcoming EO.

Instead of a DBM circular, which had implemented the previous three tranches of salary increases, this year’s hike will be green-lighted through an EO “para naman hindi mapahiya, para mukhang inutusan siya [Diokno] ng Presidente,” Andaya had claimed.

Andaya had said Diokno submitted the EO to correct his earlier wrong decision, which the former DBM chief supposedly blamed on “wrong information given by one of his undersecretaries.” /cbb