State workers pay hike on JUNE

May 02, 2011

MANILA, Philippines -  As promised, here’s good news for the 1.1 million government workers.
Starting June 1 – or a month ahead of schedule – all employees and officials of the government will be getting the third tranche of their salary increase pursuant to the Salary Standardization Law III (SSL III), President Aquino revealed yesterday. “You heard it right. Salary increases will be implemented this June and not this July,” Aquino told moderate labor groups who attended a breakfast meeting with him yesterday. “We made it earlier because I know this would mean a lot, especially since it’s enrollment period once again. Why should we postpone it when we can already do it today,” Aquino said, drawing loud applause from the crowd. When asked in an informal interview with Palace reporters, the Chief Executive said the funds for the purpose have been sourced from savings the government accumulated over the past 10 months of his administration. President Aquino commended Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for the savings, which they got from the funds for personnel services. He said there has been P19.5 billion in total savings, P2.8 billion of which is allocated to fund the third tranche of the salary increase. Meantime, following the President’s announcement, the Department of Budget and Management has already drafted the Executive Order (EO) advancing the implementation of salary increases for government workers. Abad said this EO is now ready for the President’s signature and may be issued within the week, together with a Memorandum Order, which is needed for the early release of mid-year bonuses of government agencies. “We hope that the early implementation of SSL III third tranche and the early release of mid-year bonuses will help government employees cope with rising costs of commodities,” Abad said.

Quarterly meeting
The President said he wants to meet leaders of various labor groups – perhaps with the exception of the radical militant groups who reject government invitations – not once but four times a year.
Aquino said he wants to craft a labor policy for the country that would go beyond his six-year term in 2016, where fruits of such discussions will ultimately redound to the benefit of everybody, both employers and workers. “Let’s not just talk when Labor Day comes, so we can discuss issues and come up with solutions,” the Chief Executive pointed out. According to the President, his vow of transparency and consultation will not be mere lip service, and will not be trumpeted as good news, but rather as a means where both workers and employers can reach something that is doable.

Rice subsidy
President Aquino also announced yesterday the P4.23-billion rice subsidy the government will provide to farmers and fisherfolk, on top of the P2-billion farm inputs already in the pipeline. He told moderate labor groups in Malacañang that both measures are aimed at easing the pain of workers in the face of continued increases in the prices of petroleum products that have adversely affected the prices of basic commodities for the consuming public. Smart cards for the P450-million Pantawid Pasada or fuel subsidy for jeepney and tricycle drivers will be distributed by the Department of Energy today, although Aquino said what they are making sure of is that these will not fall into the wrong hands. Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said smart cards will be distributed by the LTFRB for franchise holders of public utility jeepneys, while the Department of Interior and Local Government will take charge of the tricycle drivers all over the country. Almendras said smart cards can only be utilized two or three days after it has been issued, after concerned government agencies have confirmed that only the entitled beneficiaries have been given the subsidy. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda earlier said the government is willing to add P1 billion to the P450 million fuel subsidy and extend it even further for a few months. Lacierda said the government can make the augmentation due to the lower budget deficit this year.

Fewer applicants
In a related development, fewer applicants were recorded in the various job fairs the labor department conducted yesterday. Labor Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said that as of 1 p.m. yesterday, they recorded a total of 10,625 job applicants nationwide. The figure, Cacdac said, excludes those from five regions which have yet to submit their reports on the outcome of the job fairs. But although the number of job applicants may be relatively low considering that vacancies offered reached as high as 210,000, Cacdac maintained that the job fairs marking Labor Day were successful. “The number of job applicants that came was good enough and based on trends we have reached our target of 10 to 15 percent on-the-spot hiring,” Cacdac said. He also expressed confidence that more jobseekers would be coming later in the day when the temperature is no longer so hot. Close to 2,000 government agencies and private companies joined the job and livelihood fairs and offered immediate employment, but many applicants came to apply with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. As of noon yesterday, the AFP and the PNP reported that they have recorded close to 200 jobs applicants at the Quirino Grandstand alone. The two agencies offered over 3,000 vacancies for nurses and other administrative personnel. PNP Supt. Carter Balanos said only half of the applicants seem to qualify for the positions they are offering, but he expressed optimism that their participation in the Labor Day job fairs would boost their recruitment process. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz earlier said thousands of jobs would be offered during the event, but she admitted that a high number of applicants may not qualify for the available vacancies. However, she advised jobseekers, particularly new graduates and those without any work experience, to accept any job that would be offered to them so they could gain the necessary experience to apply for higher paying positions. – With Mayen Jaymalin

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