Press Release
February 13, 2016

Signing EO on pay hike on V-Day is better than flowers

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto backed calls that President Aquino issue the executive order implementing the Congress-approved P57.9 billion fund for the first tranche of the pay hike of national government workers "before Valentine's Day is over."

"If he doesn't have a date yet on Feb. 14, then perhaps he can schedule a quiet signing of the EO on SSL IV. It can be his way of showing his love to his fellow government workers. That's better than flowers," Recto said.

Recto was referring to the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) IV, which Congress failed to pass before it adjourned for the elections last week, after talks between representatives of both chambers hit a snag on whether to include military retirees in the pay hike.

It was Recto's fellow Liberal Party re-electionist Senate President Frank Drilon who urged Aquino to sign the EO on the first tranche of SSL IV on or before Valentine's Day.

But Recto said any order the chief executive will issue must contain "a provision protecting Magna Carta benefits", a broad range of government workers presently enjoy.

"There should be a 'non-diminution of benefits' clause," he said.

"Specifically, this provision must be included: 'Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to reduce, diminish or alter benefits provided for in existing laws on Magna Carta benefits.'"

"Mr. President, that's 22 words of saying 'I love you' to government workers," Recto said.

According to Recto, such a clause is what government teachers, scientists, nurses, doctors and social workers want because it removes all ambiguities in the measure that can be interpreted as a pay cut.

Recto said he "takes comfort on the statement of Budget Secretary Butch Abad that the order coming from Malacañang explicitly states that Magna Carta benefits will not be removed."

He recalled that when the proposed section on the non-diminution of Magna Carta benefits were sent by the Bicameral Conference Committee hammering out the final version of SSL IV to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for comment, "the DBM fully agreed."

"There already has been an accord among the parties - Senate, House, DBM - involved. I hope this will be reflected in the forthcoming Malacañang directive," Recto said.

Magna Carta benefits, all enshrined by law, vary per sub-sector of the civil service.

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, among many privileges

Republic Act (RA) 7305 grants public health workers "on call" pay, night-shift differential, subsistence allowance, remote assignment and hazard allowance, plus many more.

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

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

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