MANILA MalacaAang on Monday shared the position of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno that the fourth tranche of government workers' pay hike can only be released once Congress approves the proposed 2019 national budget.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. filed before the Supreme Court a Petition for Mandamus to compel Diokno to release the budget for the last tranche of scheduled pay hike for government workers this year.
Diokno, however, noted that the release of the salary increase under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 2015 is subject to appropriations by Congress since the funds will be sourced from the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The explanation according to Sec. Diokno is that the fourth tranche is supposed to be included in the (2019) budget, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
The one holding hostage (of the proposed 2019 budget) would be Congress not Executive Department, he added.
Panelo, meanwhile, said it will be the courts to decide on Andaya's petition for mandamus and expressed confidence that Diokno will be able defend himself.
Since there is already a mandamus petition before the court it, we will let the court decide it. It will necessarily ask the respondent Ben Diokno to respond and then when the issues meet, they will resolve, Panelo said.
Panelo reiterated that a further delay in the proposed 2019 budget's passage would be unacceptable to Filipinos and urged Congress anew to approve the budget in time for its release in the second quarter.
He said the delayed passage of the proposed budget will hinder the continuation of infrastructure projects and the delivery of social services in the country.
We are urging graciously the House of Representatives to approve the budget para makapasok agad (so that it can be on the second quarter), Panelo said.
Starting Jan. 1 this year, the government operated under a reenacted budget until the 2019 GAA is passed.
Congress failed to pass the budget bill before the end of 2018 because of allegations of pork insertions in the 2019 budget, among other controversies. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency