The Duterte administration increasing compensation of soldiers and policemen could spark protests from teachers, nurses and other government workers, a leader of the House of Representatives warned on Monday.
Deputy Speaker and Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur gave the warning in connection with Executive Order (EO) 3, which increases combat duty pay of uniformed personnel from P500 to 3,000 a month (500 percent hike) and raises that of police forces from P340 to P3,000 monthly (782.35 percent hike).
EO 3 also pads the security forces’ combat incentive pay from P150 to P1,500 monthly to P300.00 to P3,000 monthly (100 percent increase).
The budget needed for such increases is P12 billion.
“There’s this increase [for combat pay]of the police and the military, but there’s no bigger package that concerns everyone. Teachers are now gearing for a protest because the lowest ranked teacher at Teacher 1 would only have a P500 increase on their base salary,” Andaya said.
“The base salary of their counterpart in the police [Police Officer 1] is way higher than them. They are just looking at the basic pay, excluding the allowances. Bottomline, if there is an increase in one sector, it should be the case for all. When the tide rises, the ships rise. We don’t know how long will civil servants accept this kind of bias [for the police and soldiers],” he added.
Andaya noted that EO 3 involving P12 billion was issued by President Rodrigo Duterte way after the proposed P3.3-trillion budget for 2017 was submitted to Congress, thus catching Congress off guard on what item in the budget will be used to fund the order.
As a result, he said, Congress would now have to allocate almost the whole of the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) to fund the fattened combat pay.
“In terms of the relationship of Congress with the administration, the line of the communication was apparently cut. The President made an announcement about a big amount of money. There should have been automatic communication with Congress [ahead of the EO issuance]. This EO is not in the budget, although it will eventually become funded,” Andaya, a former Budget secretary, pointed out.
“It can’t go on that way. If it involves a small amount, it could pass. But that is not the case. It’s P12 billion. It could still be funded but it will eat up the MPBF,” he said.
Opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman earlier raised the same concern, describing the combat pay increase as inordinately excessive, to the point of being hyperbolic, and clearly disadvantageous and discriminatory to other government workers.
“If the increases are inordinately huge, then this can be akin to buying the loyalty of uniformed officers and personnel of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP [Philippine National Police] for ulterior reasons,” Lagman said in a statement.
While soldiers and police officers who risk their lives to ensure the safety of citizens deserve an increase in their allowances, he added, just as important are the tireless efforts of government doctors and nurses, social workers, public school teachers and barangay (village) health workers, as well as garbage collectors, street sweepers and city sewer cleaners who do the dirty job and are at great danger from traffic accidents and contamination.