By Christina Mendez, January 10, 2020; The Philippine Star

Image Credit to Business Mirror

About 1.4 million government workers are expected to benefit from the Salary Standardization Law 5, which was signed by President Duterte on Wednesday evening.

Duterte himself will have an eight percent salary increase this year based on the salary adjustments under the new law.

The 74-year-old Duterte, who publicly complained that his salary is not enough to support his two families, enjoys Salary Grade 33, the compensation of the president of the Philippines as the highest position in the government.

During the last tranche of the implementation of the SSL 4 in 2019, Duterte supposedly got an increase of almost P102,000 in his monthly salary.

From P298,083 a month, Duterte’s salary increased to P399,739 last year.

Under the new law, the President gets an eight percent increase of about P31,979 per month and will get P431,718 a month when the final tranche is implemented.

The SSL 5 also covers public school teachers and nurses.

Upon full implementation, the law said basic salaries would increase by a weighted average of 23.24 percent by 2023.

The law said employees under Salary Grades 10 to 15 would be granted the highest increase ranging from 20 to 30 percent, while those under SG 25 to 33 would have the lowest increase of eight percent.

The vice president, Senate president, House speaker and chief justice enjoy SG 32 while senators, congressmen, associate justices of the Supreme Court and the chairman of constitutional commission are under SG 31.

The executive secretary, department secretary, presidential spokesperson, press secretary, presidential adviser, presidential assistant II, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, presiding justices of the Supreme Court and the Sandiganbayan, secretary of the Senate, secretary general of the House of Representatives and the UP president are considered equivalent ranks who enjoy SG 31.

Government workers under SG 1 to 10 would get an increased pay from 17.5 percent to 20.5 percent over four years.

Director Gerald Janda of the Department of Budget and Development said the law takes effect Jan. 1 this year.

“And once signed into law, the first tranche of the increase in the salary of government workers will take effect starting Jan.1, 2020,” Janda said early Wednesday at a briefing in Malacañang hours before Duterte finally signed the enrolled bill into law.

“And we have already provided in the 2020 GAA certain amount for the implementation of this under the miscellaneous personnel benefits fund,” Janda added.

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said the government is ready to implement the first tranche of the SSL immediately this January as the required funds are already available in the 2020 budget.

“For the first year 2020, about P34 billion is needed and it is already in the just approved national budget,” Avisado said.

Republic Act 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 was signed by President Duterte on Wednesday night.

It seeks to raise the salaries of government employees, including nurses and teachers, in four tranches from 2020 to 2023.

Under the law, the minimum basic salary of a first-level government employee (Salary Grade 1) will increase from P11,068 to P13,000 after all tranches.

This is a continuation of Executive Order 201, series of 2016, which also provided four tranches of compensation hike for government and military personnel from 2016 to 2019.

Senate Bill No. 1219, also referred to as the Salary Standardization Law 5, was one of the priority bills of Sen. Christopher Go, in addition to the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 and a bill postponing barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, both of which have also been passed into law.

In previous interviews, Go said that SB 1219 satisfies the President’s wish to ensure a complete and holistic approach to salary increase for government employees.

“The President wants nothing less than a complete and holistic approach to the salary increase. Meaning, he wants all government employees to receive an increase,” Go said.

The senator filed in his first week of duty SB 200, which served as one of the bases of SB 1219.

Under the newly signed law, the increase in the salaries will be divided into four tranches, starting 2020 until 2023.

Duterte and Go have been supporters of salary increase for government workers, with the President urging Congress to pass the new SSL during his State of the Nation Address in 2019.

The President then certified the bill as urgent in December last year, allowing the Senate to proceed to the third and final reading of the bill right after the second reading, bypassing the rule that requires three days to pass between second and third readings.

Malacañang expressed confidence yesterday that the newly signed SSL will be able to upgrade the standard of living of government employees and promote excellence in the bureaucracy.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the enacted measure will rationalize the compensation of all civilian personnel, including those in the legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as of local government units.

Republic Act 11466 “would further promote excellence in the service,” Panelo said, adding that it provides for a performance-based incentive scheme to reward outstanding public servants.

“The Office of the President notes that the law is at the initiative – and has the strong support – of PRRD pursuant to his desire to upgrade the standard of living of government employees,” he added.

According to Panelo, the law is aimed at benefitting those hardworking men and women in government, including teachers and nurses who unfortunately have been neglected in the past.

“The new compensation scheme is competitive with those of the private sector to attract or maintain talented human resources,” he added.

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.

“The compensation for all civilian government personnel shall be standardized and rationalized across all government agencies to create an enabling environment that will promote social justice, integrity, efficiency, productivity, accountability, and excellence in the civil service,” the law read.

While it covers public school teachers and nurses, the military and uniformed personnel are excluded.

Government-owned and controlled corporations under RA 10149 as well as individuals who are engaged in job orders, contracts of service and consultancy with no employee-employer relations are not covered by the SSL of 2019.