31 May 2011

Bill on retirement benefits rushed

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV expressed optimism Monday that his bill seeking to hasten the release of benefits and gratuities of government employees retiring from the service will be enacted soon following the approval on second reading of the proposed measure last week.

Senators endorsed on Tuesday last week Trillanes' Senate Bill No. 2748 which seeks the expeditious and timely release of retirement pay, pension, and other benefits of state workers. The proposed bill still needs approval of the senators on third reading to ensure its expeditious enactment by both Houses of Congress.
 More than one million government workers will benefit from this proposed legislation. The Senate, however, wanted the release of  retirement benefits within a 30-day period, except the GSIS retirement benefits that would be released on the last working day of the retiring government employee.

“Public officers and employees who have spent the best years of their lives serving government and the public should not be made to unreasonably wait and suffer unexplainable delay in their receipt of benefits, which are due them under the law,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes also sought to penalize officials who would cause undue delay in the release of these benefits.

These 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.

Section 49 of Republic Act 8291, the Government Service Insurance Systems Act of 1997, provides for the release of retirement benefits to the employee on his last day of service in the government as long as all requirements are submitted to the state pension agency within the reasonable period prior to the effective date of retirement.

“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.

Trillanes said that his committee had received numerous complaints of delay in the release of the employees’ retirement benefits, a practice that has become so serious and pervasive in the government, which is the country’s largest employer with about 1.31 million employees as of second quarter of 2010.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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