Press Release
January 27, 2016

Recto: Feared cuts in Magna Carta benefits expunged from SSL IV

Despite the deadlock in the House-Senate negotiation on the proposed government pay hike, there was, however, "tripartite agreement" on a provision guaranteeing that so-called Magna Carta benefits of government workers will not be taken away.

This was disclosed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, who said that the House and the Senate panels hammering out the Salary Standardization Law IV (SSL IV) have agreed to insert "a non-diminution of benefits" clause in the measure.

The provision, which will form part of Section 8 of SSL IV, states: "Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to reduce, diminish, or alter benefits provided for in existing laws on Magna Carta benefits."

This provision, Recto said, has the support of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). "This was sent to them and they concurred."

Recto explained that this clause "effectively inoculates Magna Carta benefits from being erased or eroded. It removes all ambiguities in the measure that can be interpreted as a pay cut, rather than a pay hike."

"The SSL bill has been rectified to do just that: raise their pay and do so without cutting any of the benefits they receive under present laws," Recto said.

He praised members of Bicameral Committee Conference "for heeding the calls of affected civil servants and accepting my proposed amendment."

Recto had earlier written to the House and Senate conferees to propose an amendment that "nothing in the SSL IV 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."

He said the above merely reiterated the existing provision in the Salary Standardization Law III, which is the one in effect today.

Recto said the protection of Magna Carta benefits would mean that "teachers assigned in hardships stations will continue getting their hazard pay, pursuant to the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, to cite just one benefit."

"It means that under Republic Act 7305, public health workers will still be entitled to 'on call' pay, night shift differential, subsistence allowance, remote assignment and hazard allowance, among others, " Recto added.

Also protected by the non-diminution clause, Recto said, are the hazard pay, longevity pay, royalties from their invention, and other emoluments prescribed by RA 8439, or the Magna Carta for the science and technology workers.

In addition, frontline Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel will maintain the right to receive "on call, hazard, and overtime pay, plus subsistence and transportation allowance, to name just a few, as authorized by the Magna Carta for Social Workers."

Ambiguities in the SSL bill stoked fears among civil service ranks that hard won benefits enshrined in a number of Magna Carta laws will be eroded.

The original bill, Recto said, carried provisions which could be interpreted that Magna Carta allowances "will be folded into the new salary rates or be considered as part thereof."

After a meeting in the Senate today, the conference committee on SSL IV adjourned after failing to agree on whether to include retired military personnel, whose monthly pension is pegged to the monthly pay of their counterparts in active service, as among the beneficiaries.

"But it did so after agreeing in principle that the Magna Carta benefits will be retained," he said.

The matrix comparing the House and Senate bills which was distributed among conferees carried the "consensus language on the non-diminution of benefits clause."

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