By ELYZA VINLUAN
MANILA — Government workers are worried over the reported plans of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s administration to ‘rightsize’ government agencies, saying “ordinary Filipino government workers are the usual victims of this mass layoff.”
The Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Amenah Pangandaman said on July 13 that the current administration plans to ‘rightsize’ government agencies.
The DBM said that laying off 5 percent of the current government employees will save the government P14.8 billion and fix the departments with redundant functions. Teachers, health care workers, and military personnel are spared in this proposed rightsizing.
Citing a recent research by the National College of Public Administration at the University of the Philippines (UP-NCPAG), Courage asserts that rightsizing does not always entail reducing the bureaucracy. It is revealed that the ratio of government employees to the people they serve is among the lowest internationally, refuting the notion that our bureaucracy is swamped.
The government spends around two-thirds of the budget on paying off domestic and international debt, corruption, pork barrel projects for the president, the military, and lawmakers, as well as unproductive and corrupted government programs, COURAGE explained.
They noted that “the track record of the past Duterte administration on the anomalous use and misuse of our budget is a testament to this. The issues of corruption about Philhealth and Pharmally are examples of this.”
Contractual employees also fear this streamlining of the administration as they are the first to be affected by this lay-off.
As of August 2021, the Civil Service Commission reported that there are 449,748 government employees under job order and 132,630 personnel under the contract of the service term.
“Contractual employees are the firsts in this lay-off because they do not have a Security of Tenure. They are not also included in the salary increase under the Salary Standardization Law V and Republic Act No. 11466, that is why the contractual workers are afraid of this rightsizing plan,” Rox Fernandez of Kawani Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KALAKON) said.
Santi Dasmarinas of government employees union Courage said in a press conference that in order to help the government save funds, tax collection should be done efficiently, emphasizing the unpaid taxes and the reported corruption cases in Philhealth, the government’s health insurance system, and the alleged overpriced procurement and other irregularities in the government’s pandemic response as flagged by the Commission on Audit last year.
Dasmarinas added that the government did not make any consultation with government employees regarding the rightsizing plan.
Government workers urged the newly-installed administration to instead “collect taxes more efficiently, curb corruption and waste of government funds, recover ill-gotten wealth and punish plunderers instead of making government workers the sacrificial lamb.”
“There are thousands of vacant positions needing to be filled; hundreds of thousands of contractual government workers who need to be regularized; and lowly public servants from the national to the local levels who need to be given just salary rates,” they said. (RTS, JJE)