Press Release
August 10, 2016

Excerpt of the hearing on Salary Standardization Bills (SBN 13 & SBN 90)
Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization, and Professional Regulation

SAFT: ...In my version (of the bill) alone, taking the cue from President Duterte's pronouncement that he will double the salary of soldiers, policemen, and teachers, we actually restructured the new salary scale so that we can have a minimum increase of double the salary of the lowest salary grade. So, that's taking the cue from the very words of the President. Secretary Diokno, is that forthcoming? Because I heard, he promised an incremental increase, starting August, to the soldiers and policemen. Is there any incremental increase coming their way, Secretary Diokno?

DIOKNO: Your Honor, I cannot speak in specific terms at this point because we still need the approval of the president. But the idea is really to double their take-home pay, not necessarily the basic pay because, as you know, this has an implication with the pension of the military. That's a huge cost that we probably have to think very carefully, unless we have a law which will, may be changed or amend the current pension system. This is what I call the elephant in the room. Nobody touched this: not GMA; not Erap, not Aquino. They don't want to touch this because it's a huge cost on the part of the government. Let me just tell you that, at the present, the pension of the military is now much bigger than the salary of the soldiers. That's how big the problem is, but we are committed to double the take home pay of the soldiers, we call it the MUP, the military and uniformed personnel: AFP, PNP, Coast Guard, Firemen. So we are committed to do that, your Honor. I'm looking at a three-year trajectory. We cannot promise this August because, as you know, there is nothing in the budget for that. I don't want to commit a violation of the DAP rule. You cannot spend on something that is not authorized by Congress.

SAFT: Which is why we were surprised when the President himself committed to the soldiers that starting this August, and we have a video if you want, that they will have an increase and by December it will be doubled. He didn't mention anything about three-year plan, no. As you know, the soldiers are holding on to the word of their Commander-in-Chief.

DIOKNO: Your Honor, we are doing everything we can at the moment. If fact, we're trying to supplement their income, one way or the other. Maybe last quarter, we'll give them rice allowance of 20 kilos per month for every month. Same thing with CCT beneficiaries but we're very careful not to spend for something Congress never authorized.

SAFT: Well, you better advise your president because he's been making commitments and promises left and right. Ayaw nating masira yung credibility niya, na he's just a big talker. Kapag sinabing "August meron na kayo, incremental increase," palakpakan yung mga sundalo e. Then here is our DBM secretary saying it's not gonna happen. So, pipila yung mga sundalo sa ATM, di ba? I wouldn't want to say that the president is speaking with a forked tounge; that he is saying something na wala naman siyang planong gawin. Sa akin, huwag naman nating paglaruan ang emotions ng ating mga sundalo. They don't derserve that. We'll I understand your predicament Secretary Diokno, but, please, kung pwede ninyong maupuan si Presidente para huwag siyang mangako nang di niya kayang ibigay dahil itong bills namin about Salary Standardization law, this is basically taking the cue from his campaign and initial pronouncements. So, we don't expect any opposition from the DBM in this regard pero kung magkakaproblema, I totally understand where you're coming from Sec. Diokno, but please sabihan niyo siya na, "Mister President, hindi pwede magdoble yung increase ng AFP and PNP sa December." Pero it's too late now, Sec. Diokno, yung mga sundalo at pulis pinanghahawakan yung salita ng kanilang commander-in-chief.

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