SSL hurdles final reading at lower house

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The House of Representatives (HOR) on Wednesday (November 11) approved on final reading a measure that will hike the pay of government workers.

The House acted on an endorsement letter sent by Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on Monday (November 9).

The deliberations of the House Committee on Appropriations began afterwards, and cleared the bill on Wednesday for plenary approval.

But there was an attempt to derail its passage, as  public school teachers interrupted the committee hearing.

They said teachers should get a higher basic pay instead of additional bonus and benefits in the compensation package.

But the committee still approved the bill.

ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio challenged the Budget department's claim of a 45 percent average pay hike, saying the increase is only almost 12 percent.

Abad said the new mid-year 14th month and performance-based bonuses are part of the package.

"You add 8 percent there, that's why the teachers are angry, you are not presenting the actual. You have to add 8 percent because there's 14th month pay. Gusto natin masaya sila, ayaw nating galit sila," said Abad.

"This is perfectly accurate na makita ang salary increase. P500 plus per year, papatak more or less P24 per day ang increase."

Abad said that while the salary adjustment should match that of the private sector, this may not be the case for teachers.

"You draw clientele of private schools, that affects the viability of private schools," he said. "It will continue to draw good teachers to public school system which will ultimately cause stress because everybody wants to send their kids where the good teachers are."

Abad said raising the basic pay will turn out more costly as it will mean raising the health insurance and pension contributions.

Under the joint resolution, employees in salary rades 1 to 11 will also enjoy tax-free mid-year and performance-based bonuses.

The salary of President Benigno Aquino III is now at the level of a project manager. It will be at par with that of a company senior vice president.

It only took three days for the HOR to pass the bill. The Senate has to pass the same, so workers can enjoy the increase beginning January next year.