The stalemate over the proposed P3.7-trillion budget for 2019 should not be a reason to put on hold a scheduled salary increase for government workers, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Thursday.
Lacson said the Department of Budget and Management can use P99.446 billion under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MBPF) in the 2018 budget for the purpose.
"Mr. DBM Secretary, implement the salary increase now. It is not unconstitutional. It has basis in law and there is PhP99.446 billion under the MPBF in the 2018 budget," he said in a post on his Twitter account.
"Pointing to a re-enacted budget won't fly," he added.
The MPBF allows the government to address the personnel requirements of public institutions.
Lacson noted that of the P99.4 billion in the MPBF in the 2018 budget, P62.8 billion is for Compensation Adjustment, while P12.36 billion is for Stafing Modification Upgrading of Salaries.
"Obviously, there is legal basis as there are funds to implement the salary hike, especially for the first quarter of 2019," he said.
Executive Order No. 201, signed by former President Benigno Aquino III, provides for a salary increase for civilian government employees this year.
Joint Resolution No. 1, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, provides for a pay hike for military and uniformed personnel also this year.
Earlier, DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno said it may be unconstitutional to implement a new round of salary increases for government workers without passing the proposed 2019 budget first.
Diokno was quoted as saying last Wednesday that the DBM cannot implement the scheduled pay hike for government workers "without legal basis."
Government is presently operating on the reenacted budget for 2018, until the 2019 budget is signed into law. The Senate is due to resume deliberations on the proposed 2019 budget starting Jan. 14.
Last December, Lacson unearthed and questioned several pork-like insertions in the proposed 2019 budget, which involved grave abuse of discretion by lawmakers. These included:
* the ballooning of allocations for infrastructure in some legislative districts * the Tulong Dunong program where lawmakers distribute checks to their chosen scholars, even when the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (Free Tuition Act) had already been passed
Lacson stressed a "pork-laden" budget is far worse than a delayed or reenacted one, adding it is the patriotic duty of lawmakers to be the vanguard of good governance through conscientious spending of the Filipino people's money.
"The national budget is the lifeblood of the country. Therefore, we must see to it that we do our role in making sure it serves its purpose and not just stuff the pockets of some insatiably greedy politicians," he said.
Source: Senate of the Philippines