Press Release
January 24, 2016

Palace urged to back provision preserving benefits in government pay
No to 'magna cutting' of benefits - Recto

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto today appealed to the Palace to consider endorsing his proposed amendments to the Salary Standardization Law IV (SSL IV) in order to thwart the possible scrapping of Magna Carta benefits being enjoyed by government workers.

"The President may need to ask his officials involved to review some sections of the SSL IV and ensure that enough safeguards are in place to assure government workers that there will be no reduction in their benefits," Recto said.

"There is no harm in pooling the best minds in the executive department for this review so that the workers in the public sector may enjoy the full benefits of the proposed law," the Senate leader added.

Both the House and the Senate had passed the Malacañang-proposed SSL IV. But because their respective versions differ from each other, a bicameral conference committee will meet next week to reconcile the differences.

Recto has written to the leaders of the House and Senate contingents to consider inserting a provision in the SSL IV which calls for the "non-diminution of benefits currently received under existing Magna Carta laws."

In his letter to Sen. Sonny Trillanes, chair of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization, and Rep. Isidro Ungab, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Recto urged the insertion of the following section:

"Nothing in this act shall be interpreted to reduce, diminish or, in any way, alter the benefits provided for in existing laws on Magna Carta benefits for specific officials and employees in government, regardless of whether said benefits have been already received or have yet to be implemented."

"If this becomes part of SSL, then this will placate the workers affected. The assurance must be in black-and-white," Recto said.

"We can't be vague on the fate of the various Magna Cartas. If we insert the above, then it is as if we're assuring those concerned that there will be no 'magna cutting of benefits' in SSL IV," Recto said.

"The bottom line is that there must be no reduction in pay, whether on the first year or second year of the pay hike," Recto said. The SSL IV will be implemented over four years.

Recto recalled that SSL III, the one in force today, contains a provision "that it shall not reduce, diminish or in any way alter the benefits provided by the Magna Cartas."

He maintained that unless these amendments are incorporated in the proposed law, there remains a threat that SSL IV could erase the so-called Magna Carta benefits of government scientists, social workers, health workers and other government employees.

Citing an example, Recto noted that instead of a pay hike, 99 percent of Department of Science and Technology (DOST) personnel will get a pay cut on the first year of the implementation of the proposed Salary Standardization Law IV.

"There is a tempest brewing in the public sector on the issue of the removal of Magna Carta benefits. I hope we can find ways on how this can be averted from becoming a full-blown storm. I am optimistic that a win-win solution will be found to the satisfaction of all parties," Recto added.

Section 8 of the bill passed by the House and the Senate states that "these are the benefits authorized for specific officials and employees under Magna Carta laws that may be categorized in the Total Compensation Framework in accordance with the guidelines, rules and regulations to be issued by the Department of Budget and Management."

"In other words, existing Magna Carta allowances may be considered part of the increases authorized under SSL IV. It means that Magna Carta benefits may be folded into the new salary rate," Recto explained.

Section 8 of SSL IV removes the power of "consultative councils, departments and officials previously authorized to issue the Magna Carta benefits," Recto explained.

This intent, he said, is reiterated in Section 20 which states "that Magna Carta laws inconsistent with the SSL IV provisions "are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly."

Specifically deemed amended are: RA 4670, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers; RA 7305, the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers; RA 8439, the Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and Other S&T Personnel; and RA 9443, the Magna Carta for Social Workers.

Under the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, teachers assigned in hardship stations shall get a hazard pay equivalent to at least 25% of their monthly pay.

RA 7305, on the other hand, grants public health workers "on call" pay, night-shift differential, subsistence allowance, remote assignment and hazard allowance, among others.

Government scientists and researchers are entitled to hazard pay, longevity pay, and royalties from their invention, as prescribed by RA 8439.

Magna Carta for Public Social Workers grants frontline DSWD personnel "on call, hazard, and overtime pay" plus subsistence and transportation allowance, to name just a few.

A study made by DOST employees said the scrapping of Magna Carta benefits will result in 98.72 percent of S&T personnel getting pay reduction in the first year of SSL IV's implementation.

"Kasi kung scientist ka at sweldo mo, halimbawa, P24,000 and you get P8,000 in benefits, so you gross P32,000. Pero kung tanggal ang benefits at ang sweldo mo itataas sa P30,000, may kaltas ka nga," Recto said.

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