By Marchel P. Espina
Citing the reply of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on his personal query, Board Member Manuel Ko yesterday insisted that the fourth tranche of the salary increase of Negros Occidental Capitol employees can be implemented effective January 2013, despite the approval of the General Annual Fund budget on a later date.
As this developed, Renelo Lastierre, secretary and spokesperson of the Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees, said the new development is “very good.”
He, however, pointed out that they were not wrong in their interpretation of the Local Government Code.
What remains to be at the losing ends are the employees, he emphasized, adding that the employees will still suffer penalties and surcharges imposed by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) should the salary hike be considered as retroactive from the date of approval.
Lastierre stressed that the union is not propaganda baits, because they are “independent, professionals and have a mind of our own.”
He emphasized that what they are after only are the concerns of the employees, stressing that they should not be the collateral damage in the political war at the Capitol.
He further emphasized that they don’t want to be involved in politics.
“We will still be in public service regardless whoever will be elected as governor in the forthcoming election,” Lastierre said.
Ko said that regardless of the outcome of the proposed budget, the salary increase, which is due to the Capitol employees, will be implemented.
In the reply, through Director IV Myrna Chua, it was stated that, “Section 10 of DBM Circular No. 99 regarding the implementation of the salary increase not later than January 1, 2013 cannot be invoked because such amount is already included in the 2013 annual budget aside from the fact that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is desirous to implement the fourth tranche at the beginning of the year as what is proper and right for the benefit of all covered officials and employees of the provincial government.”
It further stated: “The last paragraph of Section 4, Executive Order No. 76 (Implementation o the Fourth Tranche of the Modified Salary Schedule for Civilian Personnel and Base Pay Schedule for Military and Uniformed Personnel in the Government), dated April 30, 2012, states that the fourth tranche monthly salary schedule for Local Government personnel for each Local Government Unit income class shall take effect not earlier than January 1, 2013.”
“Thus, consistent with Section 320 of R.A. 7160, which explicitly states that the ordinance enacting the annual budget shall take effect at the beginning of the ensuing calendar year, and, that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental has determined that the implementation of the fourth tranche salary schedule shall take effect FY 2013,” it stressed.
It added that “Notwithstanding the date of approval of the CY 2013 budget of that province, the fourth tranche salary adjustments in the monthly salary schedule for the local government personnel in the province of Negros Occidental may take effect January 1, 2013, provided that the PS limitation for that LGU has not been exceeded.”
Ko emphasized that it was very clear in the opinion of the DBM that the salary increase can be retroactive.
Meanwhile, Board Member Patrick Lacson said that he feels “vindicated” on this argument.
Ko stressed that he was not sold out to the idea to refer back the committee report on the Annual General Fund budget to the Finance Committee, because he has no objection to the said report.
However, he pointed out that, he only objects to the 20 percent (%) Provincial Development Fund, as it was not submitted to the Finance Committee for proper deliberation.
It was directly submitted by the Provincial Development Council to the SP, the Board Member claimed, adding that “we have to fasttrack the discussion in the committee level so we can tackle it in the regular session.”
On January 23, this year, majority of the board members decided to refer the committee report to the committee level by virtue of 7-5 votes after Board Member Salvador “Bading” Escalante Jr., Finance Committee chair, pushed to elevate the committee report for second reading.
Ko was quoted as saying that, “it is but proper to return the report to the committee.”/WDJ