Senators to tackle salary hike

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 05 2014 08:35 AM | Updated as of May 05 2014 04:35 PM

MANILA - Congress will resume session today following a seven-week break, with the Senate expected to tackle the proposed pay hike for government officials and employees.

Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to study whether the administration can increase the salaries of state workers to enable the financial managers to include the proposal in next year’s national budget.

“I urge Budget Secretary Butch Abad to start looking into proposals for salary increases for government workers so that it can be tackled and included in the budget preparations for next year,” Drilon said in Filipino over dzBB radio.

He said the DBM is the agency that can determine if the government can afford to provide higher salaries next year as Congress aims to pass measures seeking to increase the salaries and benefits of state workers.

“We have enough time that’s what I am saying. There is still three months for the DBM to decide on this,” he said.

Malacañang is expected to submit the proposed 2015 national budget by August.

The Senate president noted that it has been two years since Congress passed the Salary Standardization Law 3.

Drilon said the Senate would take up legislative measures aimed at providing economic relief to state and private workers, advancing public health and strengthening the country’s anti-graft court, among others.

The Senate is also expected to pass on third and final reading a bill requiring telephone companies to disseminate early warnings of disasters at no added cost to the consumer or the government as well as legislation granting a franchise to Cotabato Light and Power Co. to continue providing electricity to some areas in Maguindanao.

Other important measures awaiting Senate approval are the bills increasing the tax exemption limit on 13th month pay and other benefits and raising the allowances of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Senate Bill 27 requiring all tobacco products to bear pictures showing the ill-effects of smoking and Senate Bill 2138, which seeks to amend the Sandiganbayan by improving its systemic frailties and hasten the disposition of graft cases, remain pending in the Senate.

Drilon said the Sandiganbayan bill is important given the public sentiment against corruption in the government.

He said the enactment of the proposed legislation into law is vital in enabling faster and efficient prosecution of graft and plunder cases against erring public servants.

Other bills to be addressed on the floor include SB 2042 that seeks to prohibit the development, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons in the country; SB 914 modernizing the practice of chemistry in the country; SB 2055 seeking to regulate the practice of forestry, and SB 2103, which seeks to regulate the practice of metallurgical engineering in the country.

Sen. Cynthia Villar is expected to sponsor a bill that will expand the Philippine National Railway’s charter.

Drilon said the senators are expected to submit committee reports to the plenary for deliberation in the coming weeks.