Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Arroyo OKs early release of military pay hikes

Joyce Pangco Pañares
Manila Standard

PRESIDENT Gloria Arroyo wants to pay salary increases to almost 120,000 soldiers earlier than scheduled before she steps down on June 30.

Mrs. Arroyo said that under the third round of the Salary Standardization Law, soldiers were supposed to receive their salary increases in July.

“I have heard from ordinary soldiers asking if there is a way to [pay] the increases before July 2010,’’ she said during the 113th anniversary of the Army in Fort Bonifacio Monday.

“I have asked the Department of Budget and Management to help us find the means so that you can receive it somewhat earlier,” . “Let us cross our fingers that the DBM will find a solution.”

The law calls for yearly increases for Armed Forces members starting this year until 2012.

Mrs. Arroyo said the increase in the soldiers’ basic pay would cost the government P4 billion every month.

“Our uniformed personnel have had five salary increases, and this year’s basic pay is now almost double [what] it was in 2001,” the President said.

“For instance, a private used to receive P5,500 in 2001. Today, he receives P10,808, and in the middle of this year he will receive P12,149. A private first class used to receive a basic pay of P5,830 in 2001. Today it is P11,513, and will soon be P12,993.”

The salaries aside, the President said her administration also doubled the benefits for soldiers killed or wounded in action; provided more scholarships for the soldiers’ children; more housing projects for the military; more amenities for uniformed men and women in the field; and more modern equipment.

The President said soldiers again would play an important role as deputies of the Commission on Elections to ensure that the people’s votes were counted and protected during the presidential elections on May 10.

On Monday, administration standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro rejected the possibility of a military junta in the event of a failure of elections.

Teodoro, a former defense secretary, said a military junta was “un-Filipino” and would only set back the gains that had been achieved by the country in economic and political growth.

He said a military junta would drive away much-needed investment and could even cause an exodus of skilled Filipino professionals.

“Those who are thinking of a possible military junta would cause the Philippines’ failure and set us back again by several years,” Teodoro said.

Every Filipino citizen had an obligation to oppose any move to install a military government in case of a failure of elections, he said.

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