March 14, 2017
Recto sponsors P3,000 'PERA' for gov't employees
Government employees, whether regular or casual, may soon find a raise in their monthly pay slip if the Senate adopts the recommendation of its committee increasing the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) from P2,000 to P3,000.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto has sponsored for floor debate Committee Report No. 39, which adopted the senator's Senate Bill 807 mandating an increase in PERA for government employees. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, chairman of the Senate Committee on Civil Service, is the principal sponsor of the measure.
Under Recto's bill, the PERA increase shall be granted to civilian government and military personnel whether employed by the national or local governments, appointive or elective, and whether occupying regular, contractual, or casual positions
The funds necessary to implement the benefit for national government employees shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
For local governments, the benefit shall be charged against respective local funds. Funding for employees in the government corporate sector shall be drawn from their respective corporate funds.
In his sponsorship speech, Recto noted that the current PERA has been pegged at P2,000 for almost eight years since Congress approved Joint Resolution No. 4 merging the P1,500-Additional Compensation with the P500-PERA.
"In the eight years that PERA has been nailed at P2,000, rice prices have soared by 21.8 percent, and the peso had lost 26.7 percent of its value to inflation," Recto pointed out.
"Admittedly, the P1,000 increase will not allow government workers to get rich, not even to fully get by. But if reckoned annually, the P12,000 increase will help pay certain bills, like a semester's tuition in an SUC, or six sacks of rice, or for a small family, probably a year's water bills plus cable TV subscription," he added.
Although a P1,000 increase may not be enough for government employees, Recto said, the financing it requires is enormous.
The present P2,000 PERA costs taxpayers P33 billion a year. Raising it to P3,000 would require P16.5 billion.
"Taken against the big Personal Services or PS picture of the government, the P33 billion is 3 percent of the almost P1 trillion PS outlay this year," the senator pointed out.
According to Recto, pegging an increase that is not too big to fund effectively denies the executive branch of any excuse to veto a very reasonable measure.
"While it will add a little amount in the employee's pocket, it won't burn a hole in the government's. Thus, it will be hard, if not heartless, to reject a bill such as this," Recto said.
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