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Editorial

Pay priorities

/ 05:18 AM January 13, 2018

Beginning this month, the chief of the Philippine National Police, Director General Ronald dela Rosa, will enjoy a 79-percent increase in his basic monthly pay—from P67,500 to P121,143. That’s the combined result of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law that reduces personal income tax rates and Joint Resolution No. 1 that mandates a hike in the salaries of uniformed personnel. Both laws were signed by President Duterte this January.

Dela Rosa’s increase is only the third highest in the PNP ranks under the new scheme; police officers 1 will enjoy a 100-percent salary hike, from P14,834 to P29,668, while police officers 2 will get an 82-percent increase, from P16,934 to P30,867. All other police personnel will also see their pay increase by an average increase of 58.70 percent beginning Jan. 15, the PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, announced in a press briefing.

A similar 100-percent increase in salaries will apply to military personnel, with new monthly rates now ranging “from P18,587 for candidate soldier and P29,668 for private or police officer 1 to P34,761 for chief master sergeant or senior police officer 3,” as this paper has reported. For higher-ranked personnel: “The rates range from P35,456 for first chief master sergeant or senior police officer 4 to P121,143 for a general or police director general starting Jan. 1. Their pay will be adjusted upward to the range of P38,366 to P149,785 starting Jan. 1, 2019.”

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The hefty increases amount to a significant change in the compensation structure of police and military personnel, who, for far too long, have lived with meager pay, substandard materiel, lack of provisions, and many other privations. There is no question that soldiers who have performed heroically in Marawi City and elsewhere deserve to be compensated fairly and provided robust support.

And the PNP? Under Dela Rosa’s watch, the country’s civilian national police force has swiftly been degraded into an organization whose name has come to be associated with the routine abuse and killing of suspects; the perversion of the government’s war on drugs (such as the abduction and murder by cops of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo on the pretext of a drug raid); and widespread public doubt on its methods and motives, as borne out by surveys. As it is, dismayed observers note, Dela Rosa’s 79-percent increase in pay amounts to an undeserved reward for continually botching his job.

And as entry-level police personnel are now about to receive P30,000 in monthly pay, the basic salary of a  teacher 1 is only P21,000. The hefty pay increases for uniformed personnel inevitably raise questions about distortions in the government’s compensation structure. A recent Senate resolution specifically calls on the Department of Budget and Management to look at likewise readjusting the basic salaries of civilian personnel to ensure that, as Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon points out, if a rookie policeman receives P40,000, an entry-level teacher, a lawyer at the Department of Justice, and a health worker should also be entitled to the same pay.

President Duterte is committed to and has “ordered everyone to study how to increase the salary of teachers,” his spokesperson Harry Roque said last Thursday. But a day earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno swatted down the idea, flatly saying it is “not our priority at this time.” The administration’s priority, according to Diokno, is its “build, build, build” program, the expenditures for which are projected to amount to P9 trillion until 2022. Doubling the salaries for some 600,000 public schoolteachers nationwide would mean shelling out an additional half a trillion pesos, Diokno said.

But against the huge outlays so far for infrastructure, intelligence and pay increases for favored sectors, is not improving the welfare of teachers, who bear the awesome responsibility of educating the hope of the motherland, as urgent as that of cops and soldiers?

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TAGS: Bato dela Rosa, editorial, PNP, PNP Salary
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