MANILA—The House committee on civil service and professional regulation has started its deliberations on measures which seek to grant security of tenure to government workers holding casual and contractual positions.
House Bill Nos. 1125, 2988, 4871, 2287, 3331, 3465 and 4544 authored respectively, by Rep. Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO), Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur First District Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr., Reps. Alfredo Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City), Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Victoria Isabel Noel (Party-lIst, AN WARAY), Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan) and Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) seek to grant security of tenure to government employees with casual and contractual status.
Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (6th District, Batangas), committee chairperson, said similar bills were approved at the committee level during the 16th Congress, but due to circumstances, they were not passed into law.
She said Senate Bill 1184 which seeks to provide security of tenure for all contractual and casual government workers has passed the committee level in the Senate last October 2016.
“Maganda ang intention ng panukalang ito, pero kailangan din natin talakayin. So bakit hindi natin simulan ang pagreresolba ng contractualization sa ating bakuran mismo sa pamahalaan, kung saan napakarami sa nagtatrabaho dito ay walang seguridad,” said Santos-Recto.
In her sponsorship speech, Noel said her bill is much the same with the other proposals except that she is pushing for the grant of security of tenure for all non-regular government employees, including those in national government agencies, local government units (LGUs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and other government instrumentalities, who have rendered at least two years of continuous service.
She said employees in both public and private sectors are treated differently when it comes to regularization.
“After six months of probationary employment, employees in the private sector become regular employees,” Noel said.
But the employees in the public sector are treated differently, she said.
“For example, here in Congress, I noticed that there are a lot of employees who are treated as non-regular workers. Every time there is a change in the leadership, they need endorsements from congressmen so they can continue working,” she said.
Noel said this has to stop as these House employees have been part of the Secretariat for more than 15 years, some for more than 10 years.
“If their jobs are regular and necessary to the conduct of the business of the government, then they should become permanent employees. We have to protect the rights of the employees in the public sector,” said Noel.
Meanwhile, Roman’s bill seeks to empower contractual government employees, who possess appropriate eligibilities and qualifications and have continuously and satisfactorily rendered service to the government for at least one year, by institutionalizing prior consideration of their appointment to permanent positions before the agency looks for applicants with the same qualifications from outside the agency or office.
In her explanatory note, which was adopted as her sponsorship remarks and was read by Rep. France Castro (Party-list, ACT Teachers), Roman said a great majority of non-permanent government workers have been in the civil service for years, yet they do not enjoy the security of tenure of a permanent government employee because of contractualization.
“Under this scheme, contractual employees are allowed to suffer work in repeated cycles, thus depriving them of the full benefits that they should have been receiving, had they been appointed to permanent positions,” she said.
Roman further said whenever there are vacancies in government positions, new applicants are sometimes considered over active contractual employees who are equally qualified and have been faithfully serving the agency or office for years.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC), through its representative, Director III Atty. Jennifer Timbol, manifested its opposition to the bills granting security of tenure to casual and contractual government employees.
“The problem with the proposal for the grant of security of tenure is that we don’t have plantilla positions for casual and contractual employees because these are lump-sum appropriations,” Timbol explained.
Timbol said the only time the status can be changed or become co-terminus with the incumbent is when there is actually a plantilla item.
On the question of Noel on how plantilla positions are created, Director Ryan Lita of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Organization, Position Classification and Compensation Bureau (DBM-OPCCB) explained that positions in the government are generally created by law.
“In the General Appropriations Act (GAA), there is a provision which authorizes the President to create positions in the executive department while the DBM is authorized to create positions lower than than director position,” Lita said.
He said the DBM creates the plantilla and under the Joint Resolution No.4 (Salary Standardization Law), the DBM administers the organizational and position classification of the government. “We are the administrator of the plantilla positions.”
Lita said the DBM does not create positions because by definition, the non-career positions consisting of casual and contractual are appointments issued to persons to undertake specific works or jobs which are temporary in nature and cannot be provided by a permanent or regular staff.
“Such appointment is issued when the desired expertise is not available among regular staff,” he said.
Rep. Lianda Bolilia (4th District, Batangas) expressed her support for Noel’s sentiment.
Bolilia expressd the belief that if a government worker has been holding a contractual position for five years or more, then he/she is qualified and can be granted security of tenure.
“Atty. Timbol said the basis for appointment to a permanent position is competence and efficiency, and if this person has been occupying the position for more than five years or more, then it proves he/she is efficient and competent, otherwise he/she should have been terminated from his/her job,” Bolilia said.
Rep. Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija) asked Lita what the government is doing for government workers in line with President Duterte’s commitment to end contractualization.
Lita said as far as casual and contractual positions are concerned, the President has submitted to the House the proposal on rightsizing program.
“Under this program, the plantilla of all government agencies shall be reviewed to determine whether there are duplicative positions or are really necessary part of the bureaucracy,” Lita explained.
Suansing asked if there is a danger that government workers will be separated from their work.
Lita said there is no such danger, explaining that the rightsizing program aims to provide the correct positions in the government as it will not just lay off or abolish positions but will also create positions that are necessary.
Suansing then asked if this means there is hope for government contractual /casual workers of five years or more to become permanent. Lita replied in the affirmative and stressed it is the administration’s commitment to provide the right amount of government employees in the bureaucracy.
“As of now, we have authorized 1.6 million positions and of that (figure), there are 200,000 positions that are unfilled. We have to determine and evaluate the right positions to include in the organizational positions to accommodate contractual positions that are not part of the regular plantilla,” said Lita.
Santos-Recto then asked if these contractual/casual workers will be consider regular, permanent or will be included in the plantilla.
Lita said under the rightsizing program, positions will be created and contractual/casual government workers will have to apply provided they possess eligibility and qualification standards.