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Monday, April 15, 2024

No August salary hike, Diokno says

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THE salary increase that President Rodrigo Duterte promised to security forces cannot yet be implemented in August or even the rest of the year because there is no appropriation in the budget for the purpose, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told senators on Thursday.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno

“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 [Disbursement Acceleration Program] rule [of the Supreme Court]. We cannot spend on something that is not authorized by Congress,” Diokno said.

The budget department, however, is “looking at a three-year trajectory” to fix the current salaries and at least increase the “take home pay” of soldiers, if not their full salary, Diokno said.

“Maybe [in the] last quarter, we’ll give them rice allowance of 20 kilos per month,” the same amount allotted for beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program, “but we’re very careful not to spend for something Congress never authorized,” he said.

In previous speeches, Duterte vowed to give an “incremental’ salary raise for soldiers and other uniformed personnel by August, asking Diokno to ‘look for a way’ to raise the money for the promised salary increase.

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“I told Secretary Diokno that I will lose face in front of soldiers if I don’t give the increase. I told him that he needs to look for a way. Starting next month, you will have incremental increase in your salaries. I promise double, you will get it,” Duterte said.

As part of his plan to end the drug menace, Duterte had repeatedly promised to security forces that he will increase their gross pay but that would require P70 billion—P50 billion for active personnel and P20 billion for retired officers, Diokno said.

Diokno said he could not reveal specifics because he would need Duterte’s approval “but the idea is really to double their take-home pay, not necessarily the basic pay because, as you know, this has an implication [on] the pension[s] of the military,” he said.

Diokno said it is possible to implement if Congress will enact a law on the pension system of security forces.

“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,” he said.

“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 and Firemen,” he said.

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