Proposed pay hike for state workers gasping for air with 3 sessions to go

By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz

The chance of the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of becoming a law is getting dimmer, with the provision on the indexation of pensions of retired uniformed personnel remaining as the lone stumbling block to its passage.

Delegates of the Senate and House of Representatives to the bicameral conference committee have indicated that they will not yield their respective positions on the bill with only three session days left in the 16th Congress.

Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV said the Senate wants to include the pension of veterans and retired military and uniformed personnel in the coverage of the bill subject to availability of funds.

But Majority Leader and Liberal Party Rep. Neptali M. Gonzales II of Mandaluyong said the House of Representatives will not change its position suspending the indexation of pensions of retired uniformed personnel.

The budget for the coverage of military and police retirees is not included in the P57.9-billion appropriation for the original SSL endorsed by the Department of Budget and Management under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2016.

“They are not members of the GSIS/SSS [Government Service Insurance System/Social Security System] so their pension is a recurring expense of the budget, sourced from taxpayers money.  Assuming that we give in to the proposal, it would be P19 billion, then P26 billion, then P30 billion because this is in perpetuity,” Gonzales said after their first bicam meeting on Wednesday.

“[If we agree on it] we would have to cut the budget for social services, health care, infrastructure. There will be no problem if there is a source of fund. But the DBM, itself, said there’s no budget for it,” Gonzales added.

According to the lawmaker, there is no schedule yet for the next bicameral conference committee meeting.

Both chambers of Congress have three days left to reconcile the conflicting provisions of the so-called SSL 4, but Gonzales said they have not set a schedule yet for the next bicam. Based on the legislative calendar, Congress will adjourn on February 5 as part of its preparation for the national and local elections in May.

“The government wants to maintain a 2-percent deficit [out] of GDP. The Senate should find a source of fund if they want to push it,” Gonzales said.

Earlier, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said, “Remember that the basic SSL is included in the GAA 2016. If the Senate will add to it, that will be another law.”

“[However] SSL is something the senators, and we, know we have to pass. In the interest of employees, we are determined that the bill passes both Houses,” the Speaker said.

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading on December 9, 2015, House Bill 6268 principally authored by the Speaker, which modifies the compensation and position classification system of civilian government personnel and the base-pay schedule of military and uniformed personnel in the government to be implemented in four tranches, starting January 1, 2016. The Senate approved its own version, Senate Bill 2671, on third and final reading on January 18.

Earlier Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said the SSL will be effected through a combination of a salary increase, a 14th- month pay and an enhanced performance-based bonus to be implemented over a four-year period, from January 2016 to January 2019.

Abad explained the SSL 4 is based on Joint Resolution 4 enacted by Congress in 2009, mandating the review of the compensation and position classification system after three years from the last year of the adjustment to determine the competitiveness of government pay in relation to the private sector and the compensation strategy to bring government pay closer to market rate.

Abad said the last tranche of the previous salary increase was completed last July.




  1. Trillanes and/or the LP will NOT survive an SSL failure/veto. I hope Trillanes realizes that he is effectively killing his political career

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