Death of 'contractual' Bulacan rescuers highlight need for security of tenure: senator

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2022 03:43 PM

MANILA -- The death of five emergency responders in Bulacan during the height of typhoon Karding should be a "wake up call" for legislators, said a senator who learned that they were just "casual" workers in the government despite being "veterans."

In an ambush interview, Sen. Joel Villanueva said the provincial government informed him about the employment status of the fatalities. 

“We were told na sila ay casual [employees]. And imagine, for so long, ginagawa nila ito, pero casual employees pa rin sila,” Villanueva lamented. 

“This really a wake up call to all our lawmakers especially sa ating executive department na masyadong unfair na,” he added.

The five rescuers -- George Agustin, Troy Justin Agustin, Marby Bartolome, Jerson Resurreccion, Narciso Calayag -- were preparing life boats while conducting rescue operations around midnight of Sunday in San Miguel town when a flash flood struck them. 

They were found dead in Sitio Banga, Barangay Kamias at around 4 a.m. Monday, the provincial government said.

According to Villanueva, the case of the 5 fallen rescuers as regards their employment status is common all over the country. 

“All over the country, magugulat kayo, 10, 15, 20 yrs of service and they’re still casual workers... This is so unfortunate... We have been raising this particular issue almost every year, especially during budget season," he said. 

According to the senator, he has filed again the Civil Service Security of Tenure bill, which seeks to end “endo” for casual and contractual workers in the government.

The proposed law provides permanent appointments to casual and contractual employees who have rendered exemplary and continuous service for five years in the national government, or six years in local government units. 

The same measure passed the Congress but was vetoed by then-Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

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