Palace calls Andaya bluff on 2019 gov’t salary hike

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MALACAÑANG on Tuesday dismissed House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr.’s threat to seek Supreme Court intervention if the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) fails to implement a scheduled salary increase for government employees by Jan. 15.

In a briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said: “Let me read to you the text of Secretary [Benjamin E.] Diokno: ‘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.’ So, since the 2019 budget [has] yet to be approved and we are operating under a reenacted budget — 2018 — necessarily logically there is no legal basis for giving the fourth tranche. It’s just, common sense.”

“Secretary Diokno is saying, go ahead and sue. It’s a free country,” he added.

Mr. Panelo also said the Executive Branch is unperturbed by Mr. Andaya’s threat. “In fact, he is being dared to file it. Do your worst and we will do our best.”

On the alleged “insertions” in the 2019 budget, Mr. Panelo said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has cleared Mr. Diokno.

“Oh, yes, because it’s very clear. ‘What insertions,’ he said, adding that government agencies have good information on which projects require funding.

“There is no such animal as insertion; there are only amendments. When the measure reaches the House, they can only amend. — Arjay L. Balinbin