Bill raising salaries of Ombudsman workers ok’d

MANILA — A House of Representatives panel has approved a proposal to increase the salaries of employees of the Office of the Ombudsman to strengthen its anti-corruption drive.

According to a statement issued Friday, the House justice committee approved Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal’s motion to consolidate House Bills (HB) 6383 and 5134, both of which seek to augment the compensation and benefits of Ombudsman employees.

Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Ann Hofer, author of HB 6383, said the compensation package of Ombudsman employees and officials still pale in comparison with those of their counterparts in other government agencies, as well as in other anti-graft corruption bodies in other countries.

“Currently, the turnover of Ombudsman investigators and prosecutors is quite high. Those lawyers who have been trained by the Office of the Ombudsman eventually leave to find employment in other government agencies or in the private sector which provide better compensation and retirement benefits,” Hofer said in her explanatory note.

Meanwhile, Cibac Partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna, author of HB 5134, said the salaries and benefits of the Ombudsman workforce are not commensurate “to their heavy task of gathering evidence and establishing airtight cases against erring public officials”.

Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerald Mosquera, who appeared during the committee hearing, backed the bills’ passage, saying it will strengthen the Ombudsman to a substantial extent.

“Many of our lawyers go to us for training and then leave us after five years to join the judiciary and other prosecution service,” said Mosquera, noting that the Ombudsman has become a training ground for employees who later on transfer to other government institutions.

Under the bills, all Ombudsman officials and employees with Salary Grades 26 to 29 shall receive the same salaries, allowances, retirement and other benefits as those of judges of the Regional Trial Courts, Municipal and City Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts with the same salary grade.

The bills also seek to grant Ombudsman officials and employees performing prosecutorial and investigative functions additional monthly hazard allowances not exceeding 50 percent of their basic monthly salary.

The initial implementation of the proposed law shall be funded with PHP200 million from the National Treasury, and shall afterwards be included in the General Appropriations Act. Filane Cervantes/PNA –