The House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill 6578 that provides retirement benefits and hazard allowance to workers of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).
Under the proposed “Retirement Law of the Office of the Ombudsman”, the Ombudsman shall enjoy the same retirement and other benefits as those of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, while the Deputies and the Special Prosecutor shall enjoy the same retirement and other benefits as those of the Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals.
All other officials and employees covered by the Act, from Salary Grade 26 to 29, shall enjoy the same retirement and other benefits as those of the Judges of the Regional Trial Courts (RTC), Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts with the same salary grades.
HB 6578 provides for the automatic increase in the pension benefits of OMB retired officials or employees whenever there is an increase in the salary and allowance in the same position from which they retired.
It also provides for additional monthly hazard allowance not exceeding 50 percent of the basic monthly salary to officials and employees exposed to hardships, security risks and other hazards by reason of their assigned tasks and responsibilities.
Upon the death of a retired or incumbent official or employee covered by the Act, the surviving legitimate spouse and dependent children of said official or employee shall be entitled to receive on a monthly basis all the retirement benefits the deceased had been receiving or entitled to receive at the time of death under the provisions of the applicable retirement laws then in force.
The amounts necessary to implement the proposed Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
Rep. Ann Hofer, (2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay), co-author of the bill, said the benefits and allowances of the employees and officials of the OMB are still not comparable to those of their counterparts in other government agencies and in other anti-graft and corruption bodies in the Pacific Region.
Hofer said the OMB also suffers from a high turnover of personnel, who eventually join other government agencies or the private sector that offer better compensation and retirement benefits.
Co-author Rep. Sherwin Tugna (Party-list Cibac), said the work force of the OMB has been receiving salaries and benefits that are not commensurate to their heavy task of gathering evidence and establishing air-tight cases against erring public officials.
The House committee on justice chaired by Rep. Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro) has endorsed the said bill for plenary approval.