During the campaign for the May 9 elections, President Rodrigo Duterte and his running mate, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, promised to raise the salaries of policemen to 75,000 to 100,000 within three years. Duterte often mentioned this during his campaign speeches, even saying that if he were president, he would increase the cops’ salaries by 3 to 5 times. He also wanted to do the same thing for the soldiers.
According to Duterte, the police deserve the pay raise, given their role as the frontliners of the justice system. He also believes that better compensation for the law enforcers would discourage them from accepting bribes and doing something illegal, such as getting involved in the drug trade.
After the elections, when it was apparent that Duterte has won, Cayetano said that Duterte’s administration planned to double the policemen’s salary, raising their minimum pay to P50,000.
“Based on our computations, for an additional P50 billion, we can give a minimum of P50,000. That would be our lowest pay,” Cayetano said.
But where will they get the money?
Cayetano said that the raise may be obtained from the P350 billion to P400 billion unprogrammed funds in next year’s budget.
“It’s very doable. If we have a supportive House of Representatives and Senate, we have the money and as early as before Christmas, we can give it to our policemen,” the senator said.
However, Cayetano said that the salary raise for soldiers is more complicated because an increase in their base pay would lead to increased pension requirements.
So, will these plans for a pay raise for the police and military push through? Was Cayetano right that we do have the money to fund such plans?
Unfortunately, they won’t be happening anytime soon, or at least during Duterte’s first year in office in 2017.
According to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on July 14, the government cannot fulfill Duterte’s promise to the AFP and PNP because the proposed P3.35 trillion budget for 2017 does not include the pay raise for the cops and soldiers.
Diokno said that Duterte’s campaign promise has to take a backseat because the government has to deal with more pressing financial issues involving the PNP and AFP, such as their pension funds.
“We’re studying that. In fact, we are trying to consider everything. The problem is that the government already owes so much to the pension fund of the soldiers and policemen. It has ballooned,” the budget chief said.
However, Diokno said that the police and soldiers can still expect a pay raise next year as the second tranche of the Salary Standardization Law signed by former President Benigno Aquino III.
He also said that he wanted to discuss the growing pension problem with Duterte, “otherwise, the day will come that 80 percent of the military budget would be on pension only.”
Why did this become a pressing problem?
“The pension of the military is higher than the salary of the incumbent (personnel). That’s how big that problem is. And nobody talked about this for the last 15 years,” Diokno said.
And the 2017 budget also did not include the money for buying military hardware, according to Diokno.
One solution that Diokno has considered is to enlist the members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps who are not entitled to pension benefits.
It looks like Duterte’s campaign promise is postponed for another year or so. They have to wait longer and hope that in 2018, their salary will finally be doubled, although it looks like the current administration has to address the pension problem first.