CONTRARY to President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow to double the salary of soldiers and the police by December 2016, the promised pay hike might be possible only by 2018, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Tuesday.
“As far as the military is concerned, we will be able to comply with the desire of the President to double their take-home pay by January 2018. Sooner, if we pass the tax reform [measure], because tax reform would mean reducing the personal income tax rate from a maximum of 32 percent to 25 percent,” he said in a Palace briefing.
For Duterte to keep his word to double salaries, the government would have to ask Congress to raise the regular pay of the AFP and PNP through a higher base pay by next year.
The proposed base pay hike is on top of the second tranche of the Salary Standardization (Executive Order No. 201, s. 2016) that will increase the compensation of government employees, including military and uniformed personnel but would require Congress concurrence.
Once approved, a Police Officer I who received a total annual compensation of P321,746 in 2015 and P355,290 in 2016 will receive P473,625 in 2017. Similarly, a Private who received a total annual compensation of P330,866 in 2015 and P342,936 in 2016 will receive P436,138 in 2017, the Budget Department said.
This, along with raised combat pay for soldiers from a typical P18,000 to P36,000 last 2015 will raise compensation for military and uniformed personnel by 2018.
“If you are going to increase the basic pay, you need to increase also the pension [for retired soldiers],” Diokno said.
It is estimated that doubling the salaries of uniformed military and police personnel would cost taxpayers about P230 billion a year, he said.
In August 2016, Duterte told soldiers and policemen that their pay would be doubled come yearend in recognition of their service to the nation.
“By December, you’d have doubled your salaries. This August, that’s going to start,” Duterte said in Filipino as soldiers cheered. “Look at your paychecks. It’s there now.”
Duterte initially announced a salary increase for men and women in uniform during his visit to Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija on July 26. He said soldiers’ pay will have an incremental increase starting August and tasked Diokno to find a way to deliver.
In the same news briefing, the budget chief announced that workers will start receiving higher pay as part of the second tranche of the government’s salary standardization.
Diokno added that civilian government employees, including public school teachers and government hospital nurses are included in the wage hike.
“They are part of the salary standardization,” he said. “They are part of these tranches. But it does not mean that we will double their salary because right now the pay of public school teachers are much higher than [that] of private school teachers.”
“The previous administration had a down payment 2016. And we are going to honor it… But you know, there may be a legal defect because it did not go through Congress [and was] just incorporated in the budget.”
The salary standardization is a follow-through on the Aquino administration’s Executive Order No. 201, which would have allowed the implementation of a four-year salary increase program for government workers after Congress failed to pass a law proposing wage standardization.