Gov't workers wary of losing jobs in 'rightsizing'

Wena Cos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 14 2022 07:42 PM | Updated as of Jul 14 2022 07:56 PM

ABS-CBN News/file
Government workers belonging to the Confederation for Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and Kawani laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon stage a protest in front of the National Housing Authority (NHA) gate in Quezon City on June 24, 2022, Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - The Marcos administration is set to take its next step toward reducing the bureaucracy: the Department of Budget and Management will be submitting a proposal to "rightsize" the government.

"'Yung nilalatag po namin ngayon na batas is to give the president the power to study the democracy and review the mandate and functions of existing agencies," DBM Secretary Amenah Panagndaman said, "'Pag nabigyan ang executive ng ganung powers, we'll have a timeline kung anong mga opisina ang pwede matanggal, pagsamahin o i-create."

But government employees are wary of this proposal, fearing loss of jobs. Rox Ferrer, a contractual worker, said employees with no security of tenure like herself are usually the first victims of these initiatives. 

Ferrer, who is part of Kawani Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KALAKON) said there are over 580,000 Contract of Service (COS) and Job Order (JO) workers in the government. 

"Sa binanggit po ni Sec. Pangandaman, ako po ay natatakot para sa mag kawaning kontraktwal na gaya namin," Ferrer said.

The proposal for rightsizing will determine which among the 187 government agencies and government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) with more or less 2-million personnel, may be streamlined through merging, restructuring or abolition, Pangandaman said in a statement. 

According to data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, there are 1,755,242 career and non-career government officials and employees as of August 2021, based on the latest Inventory of Government Human Resources Report from the Civil Service Commission. 

More than 4 percent or 71,635 of the nearly 1.7 million officials are working in 126 GOCCs. 

GOCCs include the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Development bank of the Philippines, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

Among GOCCs are some of the highest-paid officials in the government. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas alone has given a cumulative 2021 salary of P282 million to 16 principal officers and members of its governing board.

While DBM has yet to identify which agencies and how many personnel will be affected, just a mere 5 percent reduction will save the government P14 billion.

But Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) Secretary General Manny Baglagon, said scrimping on the government's budget should not come at the expense of workers' job security. 

"Makakatipid ng P14 billion, ikumpara mo ito sa P203 billion na hidi nabayarang tax ng Marcos admin, maliit lang 'to," Baglagon said. 

"At saan mapupunta ang natipid na yan? About two-thirds niyan napupunta sa local and foreign debt payments, sa korupsyon, pork barrel, NTF-ELCAC, at mga legislators na hindi naman necessary na dapat ganun kalaki ang budget, na nagpapatupad ng mga proyekto na di naman kailangan ng sambayanan. Kami ay tutol sa streamlining na ito," he said.

Ferrer added that the money can come from elsewhere.

"Ayusin nyo muna ang tax efficiency collection, ayusin muna ang allocation of resources, at singilin ang mga nawawalang pera, tulad ng 15 billion ng PhilHealth," Ferrer said. 

Ferrer asked if government workers would add to the now already high unemployment rate of the country. 

"Nakakalungkot na pag binanggit sa news, 5 percent ng government employees makakatipid ng P14 billion, pera ang tinitignan, pero 120,000 na government employee ang mawawalan pag yung 5 percent na binabanggit ni Secretary Pangandaman ang magsasakripisyo at mawawalan ng trabaho," she said. 

But Pangandaman allayed their fears, saying affected employees will be included in a pool of workers where they can be re-tooled, trained, and placed in agencies reinforced by the rightsizing. 

The Department of Labor and Employment assured that they will look into the rightsizing proposal to make sure that the welfare and concerns of government workers will be taken into consideration. 

"The least thing na gusto naming mangyari o makita ay merong mga dislocation ng mga manggagawa. Kasi lalo na sa DOLE, ang aming sinusulong, pagpapatulong ng employment, sustainability, at karagdagan n'yan sana makakita pa ng mas magandang trabaho, he said.

"Amin talagang titignang mabuti, hindi namin pwedeng ipagwalang bahala, hindi namin isasantabi, yung mga concerns ng mga workers na maaapektuhan," he added. 

Part of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s Executive Order No. 1 was to abolish the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary. They were the first offices to go after his marching orders to the cabinet to streamline the government.