Press Release
March 9, 2006

Senate explains need to give public workers P2,000 pay hike

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon today explained the chambers decision to increase the proposed salary hike of government employees from P1,000 to P2,000, saying that the "ill-effects of runaway inflation under the Arroyo administration was pushing public workers and their families to the brink of poverty, if not starvation."

Voting 14 to 3 on Wednesday night, the Senate passed on third and final reading an amended version of House Bill 5013, which would provide for a P2,000 increase in the monthly allowance of government employees. The Senate passed the measure a few days after National Treasurer Omar Cruz submitted a certification that funds were available. That certification is a requirement of the Constitution, Drilon said.

The amount is double the P1,000 increase announced by President Arroyo under Executive Order 144 last week. The Senate bill, once signed into law, would provide a P2,000 pay hike for government employees starting in July and effectively repeals Administrative Order No. 144 issued by the President on Feb. 28.

"We decided to give our government employees a higher wage hike, keeping in mind that the last salary increase given to them was in year 2001," Drilon said. He noted that annual inflation has effectively reduced the purchasing power of the Philippine peso by over 23 percent since that year.

"Despite the pathetic attempts by Malacañang drumbeaters to portray a rosy picture of the national economy, it can not be denied that majority of the Filipino people are undergoing severe financial difficulties," Drilon said.

"Every housewife in town is complaining how expensive a tank of LPG has become. This government has miserably failed to arrest the spiraling increases in the prices of petroleum products and subsequently, of basic commodities," Drilon added.

"The P1,000 pay hike given by President Arroyo to our public workers is not even enough to recover one-third of the loss to the peso purchasing powers due to inflation from 2001 to 2005," Drilon said. "We are not even talking about the additional 7.5 percent peso purchasing power reduction projected this year."

As explained by Minority Senator Sergio Osmea during the deliberations, Drilon said the P2,000 increase would allow government employees to "recapture at least 16.7 percent of the 23 percent loss in the peso purchasing power due to inflation from 2001 to 2006."

The Senate amended House Bill 5013, upping the ante for the government employees allowance increase to P2,000. Under the Senate version, the allowance increase is tax-free.

Drilon said the proposed P2,000 increase starting in July is still within the P13.1-billion allocation already certified by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). "Government has sufficient funds as certified by National Treasurer Omar Cruz in a certification he submitted to the Senate last Feb. 28," Drilon said.

Among the beneficiaries of the allowance increase are the employees of the government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), local government units (LGUs) and members of the military and uniformed personnel, including Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu).

Earlier, Drilon and other Senate leaders vehemently denied the claim of President Arroyo that the Senate was delaying the approval of the proposed wage hike for government employees.

He said the Senate started floor debates on the proposal only a week ago, on February 28, when the National Treasurer certified that there are funds actually available to support these increases. "That certification is a requirement under our Constitution," he said.

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