Gov’t workers urge PNoy to raise pay

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


GOVERNMENT employees are crying for a salary increase in time for President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.

In a Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement for Government Employees (Courage) forum held on July 24, government employees in Cordillera Administrative Region expressed dismay over the administration’s alleged insensitivity to their needs.

Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines president Manny Baclagon assumed the President will not fail to mention the situation of employment and protection of the welfare of employees in his Sona.

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However, he said the good things the President will mention are deceptions.

He told Sun.Star Baguio the reality of the government employee’s situation could be described as “lubog sa kahirapan, kulang ang sweldo at benepisyo, walang katiyakan sa trabaho at sinisikil ang mga karapatan.”

He explained the implementation of salary standardization laws imposed only a minimum wage at P9,000 which is not enough for employees’ families because of the high cost of living enough to starve them.

He added aside from the insufficient salary, withholding taxes are added burden to them saying this is just a scheme to further reduce their salaries and benefits.

In this regard, Baclagon and the Courage-Cordillera led a signing of a petition calling for salary increase instead of tax increase and to junk the Bureau of Internal Revenue Memorandum Order No. 23-2014 which imposes withholding of taxes from the officials and employees of public sector.
Baclagon specified there should be a P6,000 on top of the minimum salary of public sector employees.

In particular, the petition provides fringe benefits including those stipulated in the Collective Negotiations Agreements should be exempted from any tax forms; the amount withheld from the benefits of the government employees must be returned to them; the P30,000 to the 13th month pay and other benefits indicated in the National Internal Revenue Code should be upgraded “to reflect the current situation in the view of the inflation felt by the country”.

“Gusto namin ipakita kay PNOy na sa ilalim ng kanyang administration, wala kaming salary increase, binabawasan pa ang aming katiting na sweldo sa pamamagitan ng pagbawas ng mga benefits at dagdag na taxes,” he said.

Baclagon even opined the president should go down from his position. “Magresign na siya. Kasi ang mga patakarang ginawa niya ay laging kontra sa kawani at lalo na sa mga mamamayan,” he said.

Aside from the issues in salary and benefits, government employees shared different problems encountered in the implementation of the rationalization law, superior-junior relationship and in the regularization and termination of the employment.

According to Baclagon, this just shows that not only ordinary people and private organizations have criticisms against Aquino but likewise those who work for the improvement of his administration.

“Kung sarili niyang bakuran hindi niya mabigyan ng pansin at halaga, paano pa kaya sa mga mamamayan,” he closed.

The forum was attended by representatives from regional offices of government agencies such as Department of Education, Bureau of Internal Revenue, National Economic and Development Authority, Commission on Higher Education, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Statistics Office, National Nutrition Council, Department of Trade and Industry, Commission on Population and Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, among others.

Courage is the leading umbrella of public sector unions in the country. Its regional chapter in CAR comprises of unions from the Department of Agriculture and all its attached agencies, Department of Agrarian Reform, National Food Authority and National Housing Authority among others.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 28, 2014.

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