Press Release
May 11, 2011


SBN 2748


Mr. President:

Your Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization has the honor to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2748, entitled

"An Act requiring all concerned government agencies to ensure the release of the retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits of retiring government employees within a period of thirty (30) days after his or her actual date of retirement."

After due consultation with various stakeholders, the Committee and the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, to which Senate Bill No. 251 introduced by this representation was referred, have the honor to report it back to this august Chamber with the recommendation that Senate Bill No.2748 be approved in substitution of Senate Bill No. 251, with this representation and Senator Recto as authors thereof.

The Government is the largest employer in the country, with some 1,312,508 employees as of the second quarter of 2010. Sadly, it is sometimes referred to as the employer of last resort due to uncompetitive pay schedule and minimal promotion opportunities compared to the private sector.

Ang sabi nga po nila, ang magtrabaho sa gobierno ay isang tunay na sakripisyo dahil po sa mababang sahod at salat na benepisyo.

Despite this, Mr. President, our colleagues in the government service soldier on, toiling and laboring with salaries and benefits barely enough to meet their personal and family needs. They spend the best and most productive years of their lives serving the public and the country despite the spartan pay and measely benefits they receive, often foregoing more lucrative opportunities in the private sector.

A classic example of these public servants, Mr. President, are our public school teachers.

We extol them as the molder of our youth, in whose hands lay the future of our country. We rely upon them to serve during elections, often with great risks to their lives and wellbeing. And yet, we pay them a salary barely enough to meet the basic needs of their families.

The tragedy, Mr. President, is that often times, when these public servants retire, they are made to wait for unreasonable periods, sometimes years, before they are paid their modest retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits.

In short, Mr. President, after sacrificing for decades serving the government and the public, they are again made to sacrifice even more and to wait for benefits which are actually due them under the law.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, the tragic stories of our public servants being made to wait for many months, even years before they are paid their retirement benefits are not just isolated cases. We have been hearing these persistent complaints in the media and other public forums.

Needless to state, Mr. President, this situation is unacceptable. In recognition of their many years, if not decades of faithful, loyal and dedicated service to the government, the least we can do is to ensure that retiring government employees will receive their retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other retirement benefits immediately or at least within a fixed and reasonable time after their retirement. They should not be made to wait, much less grovel and beg, for what is actually due them under the law.

The truth, Mr. President, is that current state of the law, particularly the GSIS law, actually provides for the timely release of the retirement benefits of retiring government employees. Section 49 of Republic Act 8291 or the Government Service Insurance Systems Act of 1997 provides for the "release of retirement benefits to the employee on his/her last day of service in the government: Provided, That all requirements are submitted to the GSIS within a reasonable period prior to the effective date of the retirement."

Unfortunately, Mr. President, often times legal provisions mandating the timely release of the retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits of retiring government employees are not complied with and could be conveniently disregarded due to lack of penal provisions punishing the erring officials for non-compliance.

This is what our proposed legislative measure aims to address.

Thus, Mr. President, your Committee recognizes the need to address this issue by ensuring the timely release of retirement pensions, gratuities, and other retirement benefits of all government employees, including those in the Government Owned and Controlled Corporation, under the compulsory and optional retirement by providing the aggrieved retiring employees the remedy of seeking administrative redress in case of unreasonable delay in the release of their benefits.

This bill aims to do this by:

First, mandating the release of the said benefits within a period of thirty (30) days after the employee's actual date of retirement; provided that all requirements are submitted to the concerned government agency at least thirty (30) days prior the effective date of retirement.

During your Committee's hearings, consultation and technical working group meeting with the stakeholders, representatives of the GSIS admitted that they can actually process and release the benefits of retiring government employees in less than 15 days upon retirement, provided that all requirements are submitted prior to the retirement day. However, the GSIS requested the Committee to provide for a 30-day period because according to them, this is the benchmark of Singapore government in releasing retirement benefits, which is also the benchmark in other countries.

It shall be the responsibility of the head of the government agency concerned, the President and other responsible officers of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the President and other responsible officers of the Home Development Mutual Fund (PagIBIG Fund), and/or the Secretary and other responsible officers of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), to ensure the implementation of this provision.

In cases where the retiring government employees have pending cases and whose retirement benefits are being lawfully withheld due to possible pecuniary liability, the Head of the agency where such case is pending shall ensure that the said case shall be terminated and/or resolved within a period six (6) months from the date of the retirement of the concerned employee; Provided, That in case the concerned agency fails to terminate and/or resolve the case within the said period without any justifiable reason(s), the retirement benefits due to the employee shall be immediately released to him without prejudice to the ultimate resolution of the case, except when the delay is deliberately caused by the retiring employee.

Second, the substitute bill seeks to provide penalties for the unjustified failure and/or refusal to release the pension, gratuities and other retirement benefits due to a retiring government employee within the periods prescribed, or to comply with any provisions of this measure. These erring officers, after hearings and due proceedings, shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action and be penalized with suspension from the service without pay from six (6) months to one (1) year, at the discretion of the disciplining authority, except in cases of force majeure and other insuperable causes.

In such cases, the thirty (30)-day period shall be counted from the time such cause or causes cease to exist.

Today, Mr. President, I humbly submit this proposed legislative measure for the consideration of our colleagues - with that basic aim of recognizing the heroism and sacrifices of our government employees, who I think are the unsung heroes of this nation.

To reiterate, Mr. President, your Committee believes that public officers and employees who have spent the best years of their lives serving the Government and the public should not be made to unreasonably wait and suffer unexplainable delay in the release of benefits which are due them under the law. It is through their comfortable and secured retirement, that government employees can enjoy the fruits of their noble service in the government. And we can make this happen if we will ensure that, apart from guaranteeing that they will be receiving reasonable retirement benefits, they will also be receiving these benefits on time and without the indignity of having to wait and beg for the release of the same.

In view of the foregoing, I urge this august Body to support the passage of this measure.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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