House OKs bill seeking to improve delivery of gov't services

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2017 02:44 AM

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to streamline the bureaucracy and improve the quality of government service delivery.

The final vote for House Bill 5707 came down to 230 voting for the bill, 6 voting against it, and zero abstention.

The Makabayan bloc voted against the measure, while ACT Teachers Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio was not around at the time of the voting.

The proposed bill, entitled "An Act rightsizing the national government to improve public service delivery," was among the priority legislation cited by President Rodrigo Duterte in his second State of the Nation Address.

House Appropriations Committee chairman and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said the proposed Rightsizing Law would reshape the government into a "lean and mean" bureaucracy as it rationalizes the functions and all government offices and their individual staffs.

The measure would cover all agencies of the executive branch and all other entities attached to or under their administrative supervisions, government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) not covered by Republic Act No. 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.

The bill provides for the optional adoption of the rightsizing program by the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, the Office of the Ombudsman, and Local Government Units (LGUs).

"This measure would correct the overlapping and duplication of functions of our government offices and their staffs. This will ensure the long term sustainability of our government service through resource mobilization and cost effective public expenditure management," Nograles said.

Under the bill, the President is granted the authority to "rightsize" the bureaucracy by abolishing government positions that are considered to be non-performing and unnecessary.

It provides for the creation of the Committee on Rightsizing the Executive Branch to oversee the implementation of the Act.

The proposal mandates the submission to the President the "rightsized" organizational structure of agencies concerned and the corresponding executive issuances within 250 days from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations of the Act.

Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Isagani Zarate voted against the bill because "rightsizing is just a neoliberal euphemism for more contractualization of public sector jobs and privatization of basic services. Ergo, more profit for big business. Rightsizing is an affront to the security of tenure of public sector workers in the guise of efficiency."

Anakpawis Cong. Ariel Casilao said, "We have already manifested our opposition since comm deliberation of the bill. This will lead to massive disenfranchisement or termination of thousands of govt.workers. this will also worsen the sorry state of hundreds of thousand contractuals in diff national depts, bureaus, agencies. While it is worthy to agree on the premise of efficient delivery of service, rightsizing is not the only way to achieve the latter"

In a statement, ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro both blasted the approval of the bill.

"We condemn the approval of HB 5707 for the rightsizing of national government agencies as this will be no different from the rationalization schemes of past administrations which caused untold damages to government workers and to public service,” the statement read.

“Instead of answering the just demand of government employees and workers for salary increase and regularization, government through rightsizing will only effect massive layoffs, retrenchment, and displacement, and worsen contractualization. The proponents including the DBM admitted that 16% of the 1.6 million total government positions or 255,295 state workers will be affected in the first year alone,” it added.

Both said rightsizing will further deteriorate public services since necessary personnel complement in frontline offices will be thinned. 

Those who will remain in government service, including teaching and medical positions which allegedly "will not be affected," will not be spared as they will be forced to shoulder heavier workloads. 

Also approved on third reading is the proposed House Bill 5865 or the "Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers," which aims to improve seafarers' working conditions, terms of employment and career prospects, and to uplift the socio-economic well-being of their families.