Bulatlat asked government employees what they will do if they get an additional P2,000, to be given in tranches the next four years. No one was happy about it.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL and RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – There is a big gap in the proposed Salary Standardization 4 that makes rank-and-file employees of the government rage.
In the proposed bill, rank-and-file employees or employees in lower positions, such as a utility man or cook who currently receives P9,000 ($190) a month under salary grade 1, will only receive an increase of P2,068 ($44) or a measly 22 percent. The same goes to nurses and teachers. What’s worse is that the increase will be given in four tranches in the next four years.
Meanwhile, government employees in higher positions who are already receiving bigger salaries will receive an increase of 67 percent or P33,656 ($710). The President will also have a 223-percent increase, from the present monthly salary of 120,000 ($2,530) to P388,096 ($8,182).
The government employees who are at the front line of public service cannot accept what they call an “insincere, unfair and heartless salary increase.”
To understand the reason for their rage, Bulatlat asked rank-and-file employees: “Where will an additional P2,000 in salary go?”
Peter Sandoval, 58, an employee of the National Food Authority (NFA) for 35 years, receives P11,000 ($232) a month as a utility man. He has six children. His youngest daughter, 18, is already in second year college.
He does not think that the salary increase will make any difference, because he said his salary could not even cover for their food expenses. His five sons were not able to finish school. He said his wife only finds ways, like borrowing money, to make both ends meet. For his 35 years in government service, his family’s life was never easy. “Laging kapos (We’re always short),” he told Bulatlat.
For the past five years under President Aquino, there was no salary increase that would somehow augment their needs.
“What will happen to us with the P2,000 increase? Nothing. What the government should do is implement the P16,000 ($337) national minimum wage. That will somehow resolve our misery,” said Sandoval.
Rox Dela Cruz, 51, another NFA employee also receives P11,000 a month. He has two children who are both in elementary. He laments that despite his 33 years in service, he and many co-employees in the same rank are always left behind. “I have been serving in government since 1983 and yet our salaries cannot cope with the increasing prices of utilities, services, food, as well as education,” he told Bulatlat.
He said the P2,000 increase will go to the payment of loans. “We have maximized all the loans that we can avail of — from the Pagibig personal loan to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS),” he said.
Melchor Dime, 45, utility worker for 19 years at the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRRMMC) said the salary increase would only go to payment of interests of all his loans. “That proposed salary increase cannot even cover for our electric and water bills, as well as other family needs,” he said. He too, has availed of all possible loans he can get.
Judyn Bonn Suerte, 36, an administrative aide at the JRRMC, is categorized in the lowest salary grade. Although he has been working at the JRMMC for 15 years now, he receives only P9,500 ($200) a month.
In an interview with Bulatlat, the 36-year-old father of three said it’s difficult to make both ends meet. He would skip paying bills for electricity and water to pay for their other needs.
Suerte lamented that the measly P2,000 increase will be given in four tranches. The worst part, he said, is the proposal to scrap the Magna Carta benefits for government workers.
“Kung tatanggalin ang Magna Carta, malaki mawawala sa amin. ‘Yun lang ang pandagdag naming sa pang-araw na pangangailangan,” (If the Magna Carta would be repealed, we would lose so much. We rely on it for our every day survival) Suerte said.
Suerte receives monthly P2,700 ($57) hazard pay; P1,500 ($32) food allowance; and, P150 ($3) laundry allowance.
If SSL 4 is passed, Suerte will get the P2,000 additional pay in the next four years, but will lose P4,350 ($92) per month in mandated benefits.
For a single parent like “Michelle” (real name withheld due to request), 35, the salary increase will only pay the taxes. She said her monthly salary of P14,000 ($295) gets tax deductions worth P2,000 ($42).
She is an administrative assistant at the Tondo Medical Center for 13 years. She has a son and does not receive support from her son’s father.
“Kami yung nasisigawan ng mga pasyente, lagi kaming nalilipasan ng gutom dahil sa no-break policy. Kahit may bagyo on-call kami, tapos ganito lang kami tatratuhin ng gobyernong ito?” (We are the ones who get yelled at by patients, who skip meals because of the no-break policy. We are on call during typhoons, and this is how government will treat us?) Michelle told Bulatlat. She criticized Aquino for trying to score brownie points with the voters at the end of his term.
“He is the only President who did not give a salary increase. And why only now? Why? Because his bet, Mar Roxas, is running for president. This is nothing but papogi,” she said.
Allan Balaba, 46, an employee of the Department of Social Work and Development for 28 years, said the salary increase is not even enough for his transportation fare. He travels from his home in Antipolo to the DSWD office in Quezon City. He is also a single parent and has two children who are both studying.
Balaba felt insulted by the gap in salary levels and increases. He said ordinary government employees are living their lives neck-deep in loans because their salaries are not enough. The wage increase will barely make a dent on their needs.