We were so engrossed in analyzing every improbable promise and black propaganda accusation by and against every presidential candidate that we failed to examine the details and impact of Executive Orders 201 and 203 that President Benigno Aquino III signed on Feb. 19 and Mar. 22, 2016.
Admittedly, my senior citizen friends and I first thought that these EOs were merely about the long-awaited pay adjustments for our younger friends in the public sector who had been constantly complaining to us about PNoy’s refusal to grant them any pay raise in the past six years.
We would have taken a keener interest if one had been numbered EO 123, or if their titles were not worded so blandly:
“Modifying the salary schedule for civilian government personnel and authorizing the grant of additional benefits for both civilian and military and uniformed personnel”
“Adopting a compensation and position classification system [CPCS] and a general index of occupational services [IOS] for the GOCC sector …”
In fact, EO 201 granted, retroactive to Jan. 1, salary increases averaging 27 percent to our 1.5-million civilian and military employees “regardless of appointment status, whether regular, contractual or casual; appointive or elective; and on full-time or part-time basis.”
P57.9 billion is required as annual budget, but PNoy’s bright boys have anticipated this huge amount and had it tucked earlier in the 2016 General Appropriations Act.
EO 201 provided only the first part of a four-year salary increase program that will raise the compensation of all government workers to at least 70 percent of the market rate.
If fully implemented, it would require an estimated P850 billion in additional taxes—a heavy collection burden for President Digong’s new administration.
Yet, the lowest monthly salary—Salary Grade 1—has been increased only by 5.3 percent from P9,000 to P9,478 in 2016, and to P11,068 in 2019. This is an increase of 23 percent over four years.
President Digong will be receiving P160,924 when he assumes office on July 1, which is 34 percent more than PNoy’s P120,000 salary. It would increase annually until it reaches P388,096 by Jan. 1, 2019— an increase of 223.4 percent in four years.
EO 203, on the other hand, allowed significant increases in compensation of executives and employees of government-owned and -controlled corporations amounting to P4.6 billion, according to the Governance Commission for GOCCs which now regulates all GOCCs.
In fact, only the particular GOCC would know if it could fully implement these increases. After all, its implementation would depend on the GOCC’s financial capability and how much its charter allows it to spend.
GCG drafted the EO for the purpose of raising the performance standards of GOCCs, “especially with respect to their long-term breakthrough results.”
These salary increases, despite being announced in the middle of the presidential campaign period, may have never been intended to buy votes for PNoy’s anointed presidential candidate.
But for certain, many government workers still remember that after PNoy became president he soon imposed on Sept. 8, 2010 a moratorium on increases in their salaries, allowances, incentives, and other benefits. For them, these EOs only lifted his own moratorium, and it took him six years to undo it.
In particular, EO 203 also increased significantly the compensation of those working for the Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, and PhilHealth whose executives and employees claim that they deserve the substantial salary increases because they had no salary raise in the past six years.
Their bosses would have the highest increase in basic monthly pay, now set from P804,221 to P1,085,699. Wow, they’re not peanuts and would indeed enable President Digong to appoint with ease honest, hardworking and talented persons to these positions.
However, “around 1,000 SSS rank-and-file workers will not receive any salary increase.” This is “immoral, unjust, and indecent,” according to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa.
Indeed, the new salary scheme shouldn’t be implemented at SSS –and also at GSIS and PhilHealth— but for other reasons.
The executives and employees of SSS, GSIS and PhilHealth are fiduciaries of trust funds that come from workers’ and employers’ contributions, and whose beneficiaries receive very low benefits. In effect, every single peso that they spend to pay for their salaries and operating expenses is taken out from these funds. It could have been used to augment pension and hospital benefits.
Certainly, the new salary expenditures would prevent the grant of any feasible benefit enhancement indefinitely.
These fiduciaries should demonstrate more prudence, diligence and self-denial especially today when they could not give the demands for a P2,000 pension increase and reasonable hospital support value.
Instead, they continue to fool us into believing that any measly benefit increase couldn’t be granted because it would endanger the funds’ actuarial life.
Worse, these EOs have created a very explosive pension time bomb for GSIS.
GSIS computes pensions based on salaries, and their steep and sudden increases under EOs 201 and 203 would have resulted in huge unfunded pension liabilities. How much are they?
Certainly, GSIS’s fund life has been reduced. What is it now? How soon will GSIS go bankrupt?