By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte signed on Wednesday the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 which raises the salary of government workers in four tranches starting January, 2020.
While Malacañang has yet to confirm the signing of the law, official Palace photos sent to the Malacanang Press Corps members Wednesday night showed President Duterte signing the measure in Malacañang. With the President in the photo was his long-time aide, Senator Bong Go.
The signing of the measure took place just days after the President signed the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget which sets aside some P34 billion for fresh salary increases for government workers
Duterte signed the bill into law less than a month after he certified the measure as urgent on December 13 last year.
In his letter to Senate President Tito Sotto, Duterte called for the speedy passage of Senate Bill 1219 which seeks to increase the wages of civilian government employees.
The President said in his letter that the salary hike was necessary to “address the need to further invigorate public service with efficiency and productivity by providing all government civilian personnel a just and equitable compensation responsive to their economic needs.”
The President first urged lawmakers to approve a salary increase for government workers, including teachers and nurses, during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year.
“I believe that it is now time for Congress to approve a new version of the Salary Standardization Law. Ngayon na (Immediately),” Duterte said in July 2019.
“To the teachers who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young, kasali na po dito iyong hinihingi niyo. Hindi naman masyadong malaki pero (This includes what you’ve been asking for. It is not that big but) it will tide you over during this hard time. This is intended to increase salaries of national government workers, including teachers and nurses,” he added.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said that the passage of a new salary standardization law was a temporary solution until the President is able to fulfil his promise to double their salary.
Public school teachers have been asking for a significant increase in their salary following pay hikes for police officers, soldiers, and other uniformed personnel.
In a speech in June, 2019, Duterte said he has not forgotten about his promise but explained that raising the salary of uniformed personnel came first because they are fewer compared to the number of teachers across the country.
“We’re working on it, akong saad, pero timan-i baya (on my promise, but remember), there are millions of teachers,” he said.
“Gamay raman ning pulis. Ang pulis something like 160,000, ang military 130,000. Dali ra. Mao nang doblado nani sila karon (There’s only a few of them. The police is about 160,000 while the military is about 130,000. It’s easy. That’s why their salaries have doubled),” he added, noting that he also prioritized the uniformed personnel because they are risking their lives for the country.