Palace unfazed by lawmaker’s threat

January 08, 2019
Benjamin Diokno

MALACAÑANG is unfazed by the threat of House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. of filing a case against Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno with the Supreme Court to force him to implement the fourth tranche of salary increase for government employees this year.

Andaya said yesterday the Department of Budget and Management “has all the tools” in pushing through with the pay hike after Diokno reasoned that salary adjustments for civilian and military personnel programmed for 2019 will have to wait pending approval of this year’s national budget.

Diokno reiterated his stand in a text message sent to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who read its content during his regular press briefing in the presidential palace.

“It’s elementary. The salary level authorized in the 2018 budget covers the third tranche of SSL [salary standardization law] only. The fourth tranche is provided for in the 2019 President’s Budget. Since the 2019 budget is yet to be approved, and we’re operating under a reenacted 2018 budget, there exists no legal basis for giving the fourth tranche,’” Panelo quoted Diokno as saying in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.

Panelo backed Diokno’s assertion.

“Kumbaga common sense. If the fourth tranche is not included in the previous budget eh papaano mo nga naman [mapopondohan]? Wala kang mapagkukunan,” he said.

Asked if the Palace did not feel threatened by Andaya’s vow to file a petition with the high court, Panelo said: “Obviously [not]. In fact he’s being dared to file it. Kumbaga do your worst and we will do our best.”

Andaya and Diokno locked horns over allegations that the budget chief raised by P75 billion the proposed appropriations for the Department of Public Works and Highways without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte and DPWH Secretary Mark Villar.