TABACO City—Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto over the weekend here appealed to President Aquino to issue the executive order implementing the Congress-approved Php57.9-billion fund for the first tranche of the pay hike of national government workers “before Valentine’s Day is over.”
“If he doesn’t have a date yet on Feb. 14, then perhaps he can schedule a quiet signing of the EO on SSL IV. It can be his way of showing his love to his fellow government workers. That’s better than flowers,” Recto said.
He was referring to the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) IV, which Congress failed to pass before it adjourned for the elections last week, after talks between representatives of both chambers hit a snag on whether to include military retirees in the pay hike.
It was Recto’s fellow Liberal Party re-electionist Senate President Franklin Drilon who urged Aquino to sign the EO on the first tranche of SSL IV on or before Valentine’s Day.
But Recto said any order the chief executive will issue must contain “a provision protecting Magna Carta benefits”, a broad range of government workers presently enjoy.
“There should be a ‘non-diminution of benefits’ clause,” he said.
“Specifically, this provision must be included: ‘Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to reduce, diminish or alter benefits provided for in existing laws on Magna Carta benefits.'”
“Mr. President, that’s 22 words of saying ‘I love you’ to government workers,” he pointed out.
According to Recto, such a clause is what government teachers, scientists, nurses, doctors and social workers want because it removes all ambiguities in the measure that can be interpreted as a pay cut.
The veteran lawmaker said he “takes comfort on the statement of Budget Secretary Butch Abad that the order coming from Malacañang explicitly states that Magna Carta benefits will not be removed.
He recalled that when the proposed section on the non-diminution of Magna Carta benefits were sent by the Bicameral Conference Committee hammering out the final version of SSL IV to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for comment, “the DBM fully agreed.”
There already has been an accord among the parties – Senate, House, DBM – involved. I hope this will be reflected in the forthcoming Malacañang directive,” Recto said.
Magna Carta benefits, all enshrined by law, vary per sub-sector of the civil service.
Under the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, teachers assigned in hardship stations shall get a hazard pay equivalent to at least 25 percent of their monthly pay, among many privileges
Republic Act (RA) 7305 grants public health workers “on call” pay, night-shift differential, subsistence allowance, remote assignment and hazard allowance, plus many more.
Government scientists and researchers are entitled to hazard pay, longevity pay, royalties from their invention as prescribed by RA 8439.
Magna Carta for Public Social Workers grants frontline Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel “on call, hazard, and overtime pay” plus subsistence and transportation allowance, to name just a few.