MANILA - At least 2,000 airport staff were told to return P54 million in hazard pay granted to them in 2020 after the Commission on Audit found that the grant should not have included some contractual workers.
In a memorandum dated May 24, 2021, LSERV Corporation, a private manning agency of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), said it would deduct the amount from the workers' next salaries.
“We regret to inform you that, per instruction of the Manila International Airport Authority, and on the basis of Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) dated 28 January 2021 issued by the Commission on Audit (COA), the company shall be recovering the COVID-19 Hazard Pay released to you on 2020 through salary deduction,” according to the memo signed by its chief operating officer Joseph Angeles.
The memo added that while Administrative Order No. 26, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in March last year, authorized the grant of COVID-19 hazard pay to government workers who physically reported for work during the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the COA found that it did not include LSERV personnel, who are classified as personnel under institutional contract service.
Affected workers have appealed for Duterte’s help and stressed that the hazard pay they received were for actual service rendered during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Actual duty po iyon, sir. Kung tumanggap man kami ng hazard pay dahil buwis buhay po kami na nagtrabaho sa panahon ng pandemya bilang airport frontliners,” one worker said.
(That was for actual duty. If we received hazard pay its because we risked our lives to work during the pandemic as airport frontliners.)
Another worker lamented the agency's decision, saying there will be nothing left for their families.
“Maliit lang po talaga ang sweldo namin. Kung babawasan pa po ito, wala na na po matitira para sa pamilya namin."
(We don't earn much. If they are going to deduct this from our salary, there would be nothing left for our family.)
The LSERV Corporation memo also added there were efforts exerted by the company and MIAA in requesting for reconsideration from the AOM, as well as from the Department of Budget and Management to include outsourced personnel in the grant of COVID-19 hazard pay.
“LSERVE is sad to learn that the disallowance of hazard pay, but we have no other recourse but to recover the P54 million unauthorized hazard pay,” said Leviste.
“Thus, in compliance with the AOM, we shall be recovering from all employees the total COVID-19 Hazard Pay released during pay periods covering March 17, 2020 to August 18, 2020 through salary deduction,” it stated. The amount of P1,500 shall be deducted every month to ease the burden of affected employees.
In a phone interview, the company’s assistant vice president, Baby Leviste, confirmed the existence of the memorandum to recover P54 million hazard pay granted to their employees.
Leviste said that of the 2,500 airport contractual employees, only 2,000 received the COA unauthorized hazard pay.
- Report from Raoul Esperas