SC orders DBM to comment on petition vs Diokno over salary increase of govt workers

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Government workers are set to receive bonuses in June 2015.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 22) — The Supreme Court (SC) has asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to comment on a petition compelling the budget chief to implement the scheduled salary increase for government workers, a source said Tuesday.

A group of over 50 employees, led by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, last week filed a petition before the SC urging Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to release the fourth tranche of the salary standardization law despite the re-enactment of the 2018 budget caused by the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget in Congress.

In the petition, the group said Diokno and the DBM "lawfully neglected the performance of ministerial acts" in refusing to release the scheduled pay hikes this year.

The petitioners argued that the ₱99.45 billion miscellaneous personnel benefits funds (MPBF) may be used by the DBM to cover salary adjustments of government employees, which they estimate would cost the government ₱42.71 billion only.

They added that even if the DBM refuses to allot funds for the full ₱42.71 billion for the fourth tranche of salary adjustments, the Budget department could just allocate a quarter's worth of pay hikes as the 2019 budget may still be passed within the first quarter of the year.

DBM officials, on the same day of the filing of the petition, held a press conference welcoming the group's call. However, the agency maintained that it cannot use the MPBF for salary increases for government workers without Congress passing the 2019 budget. The House of Representatives and Senate met Tuesday for a bicameral meeting to consolidate their versions of the proposed national budget.

READ: Senate approves ₱3.757-T 2019 budget

READ: House of Representatives passes ₱3.75 trillion 2019 budget bill

"The implementation of the fourth tranche compensation adjustment is on hold not because the DBM decided so, but because we are constrained by the provisions in the very same EO that authorized the compensation adjustment," Abuel said.

She was referring to the Section 11 of Executive Order (EO) No. 201, which provides for the implementation schedule of salary hikes for government workers "subject to appropriations by Congress."