Teachers Upset Over Aquino’s Ban On Bonuses

by Ina Alleco R. Silverio

MANILA — The country’s educators led by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) have another axe to grind against the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Last July 20, the president signed Executive Order no. 80. It provides guidelines for a performance-based bonus. Malacañang said the performance-based bonus is an “innovative” system to reward productivity in civil service. The executive order covers national government agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs.) In the meantime, agencies with fiscal autonomy such as Congress and the judiciary are, however, “encouraged” to adopt EO no. 80.

In their declarations to the media, various Malacañang spokespersons said that EO no. 80 aims to encourage government employees to serve the public better. Aquino himself has said that there is a need to rationalize the current incentive system in government. Under the current system, bonuses are given uniformly and across-the-board to all government employees.

In justifying the order, Aquino said the performance monitoring and appraisal systems such as the Organizational Performance Indicator Framework (OPIF) and the Strategic Performance Management System (SPMS) where the performance of individuals and organizations are measured and the Results-Based Performance Monitoring System (RBPMS) should be improved upon or developed.

The OPIF is being used by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), while the SPMS is being used by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Aquino said service delivery by the bureaucracy can be improved by linking personnel incentives to the bureau or delivery unit’s performance and recognizing and rewarding exemplary performance in the public sector.

EO 80 stipulates that there will be a performance category and the range of bonuses for “good” to “best” performers, and the bonuses will range from P5,000 ($119) to P35,000 ($ 8,333).

According to ACT, however, Section 5 of the EO actually prohibits agencies from giving their employees allowances, incentives, and bonuses other than those under the salary standardization law (SSL III). They are also prohibited from increasing the amount of existing bonuses. The EO, the group said, essentially lays down a ban against bonuses.

Under Section 5 of the EO, the grant of allowances, incentives and bonuses other than those authorized under SSL III and any increase in the existing and authorized rates other than what is provided for in the EO, are not allowed.

The group’s vice-president Benjie Valbuena said that given the low salaries and meager bonuses they receive, state workers including teachers who comprise almost two-thirds of the bureaucracy are hard put to keep up with the daily cost of living.

“EO 80 is deceptive because essentially President Aquino banned future grants of additional bonuses or increases in incentives already received by state workers,” Valbuena said.

In Congress, the group’s representative Antonio Tinio dared Aquino to explain to government employees how the EO exactly works, particularly its character as a ban against bonuses.

“Aquino’s press relations machinery enthusiastically promotes this performance-based system, but Malacañang is not telling the truth about it. Its acronym PBB actually stands for ‘PNoy’s Bonus Ban, “laying bare this administration’s anti-worker and anti-people thrusts,” said Tinio. Instead of heeding just demands for adequate remuneration and tighter price controls, Aquino outlaws bonuses of any amount that might supplement the regular income of civil servants,” he said.

Under the EO, a performance-based incentive system consisting of the Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) and the Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) will be adopted beginning this year 2012. The smallest bonus, the PEI amounting to P5,000 ($119) will continually be granted across-the-board based on guidelines of the DBM. The top bonus, the PBB, in the meantime will be given to personnel of bureaus in accordance with their contribution and accomplishment in their department. Bureaus and individuals who receive a below satisfactory performance rating will not be qualified for the PBB.

“The PBB shall be distributed according to the following scheme for FY 2012, without prejudice to the revision thereof in succeeding years, as may be approved by the President, upon recommendation of the IATF,” the EO read.

Tinio said that the for all the provisions of the EO that appear to be supportive of the economic aspirations of government employees, it was precisely the Aquino government’s penchant for cutting down benefits and other remuneration for its employees that is at the core of the problem of the EO and all other measures. of the administration connected to salaries and benefits.

“The Aquino administration keeps on scrimping on state workers. This is why Malacañang’s allies in Congress have refused to act on legislative proposals that provide pay and bonus hikes for government employees, including public school teachers,” Tinio said.

Tinio’s own House Bill 2142, for the salary upgrade of DepEd and locally-funded teachers, and HB 5662, for the increase of the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance to P4,000 ($95.23) have not been discussed by the Committee on Appropriations since they were filed.

Tinio said that the bonus ban spells further belt-tightening for around 1.2 million government employees reeling from unrestrained hikes in energy, water, oil rates and the prices of basic commodities.

ACT’s Valbuena said that if Aquino is sincere in helping government employees, he would not impose “tricky” measures like EO 80.

“Instead of heeding the just demands of state workers for adequate remuneration and tighter price controls, Aquino targets public servants, whose basic take-home pay cannot them home. To outlaw any supplemental amount to regular income of civil servants is unjust and anti-people,” he said.

Valbuena said that his group will organize forums and signature campaigns against EO 80 as well as school bell-ringing protests and other forms of action. (Bulatlat.com)

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