Senator Sonny Trillanes authored expeditious release of government workers pension

The Senate has unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks the expeditious and timely release of benefits, pension and gratuities of government workers retiring from the service.

A total of 18 senators voted for the approval of Senate Bill (SB) 2748 principally authored by Senator Antonio "Sonny" F. Trillanes IV. No one cast a negative vote on the proposed measure.

SB 2748 calls for the release of retirement benefits within a 30-day period, except for benefits from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) that would be released on the last working day of the retiring government employee.

"The Government is the largest employer in the country, with some 1,312,508 employees as of the second quarter of 2010. Sadly, it is sometimes referred to as the employer of last resort due to uncompetitive pay schedule and minimal promotion opportunities compared to the private sector," Trillanes lamented.

"Our colleagues in the government service soldier on, toiling and laboring with salaries and benefits barely enough to meet their personal and family needs. They spend the best and most productive years of their lives serving the public and the country despite the Spartan pay and measly benefits they receive, often foregoing more lucrative opportunities in the private sector," the Senator added.

Trillanes cited the case of public school teachers, who are underpaid and overworked. "We extol them as the molder of our youth, in whose hands lay the future of our country. We rely upon them to serve during elections, often with great risks to their lives and well-being. And yet, we pay them a salary barely enough to meet the basic needs of their families.

"Often times, when these public servants retire, they are made to wait for unreasonable periods, sometimes years, before they are paid their modest retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits," Trillanes said as he called this situation "unacceptable."

"In recognition of their many years, if not decades of faithful, loyal and dedicated service to the government, the least we can do is to ensure that retiring government employees will receive their retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other retirement benefits immediately or at least within a fixed and reasonable time after their retirement. They should not be made to wait, much less grovel and beg, for what is actually due them under the law," Trillanes said.

Trillanes also sought to penalize officials who would cause undue delay on the release of these benefits. He said these erring officials, after hearings and due proceedings, shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action and be penalized with suspension from service without pay from six months to one year, at the discretion of the disciplining authority, except in cases of force majeure and other insuperable cases.

"Some agencies do not feel compelled to act in accordance with the law due to lack of penal provision 
punishing the agency for its non-compliance. Hence, we should put teeth into the law in order to better enforce its provisions," Trillanes explained.