By Chito Chavez
Various human rights, militant and cause-oriented groups have condemned the government for its supposed unfulfilled promises, public’s continued financial hardships and the alleged unabated political harassment and abusive acts of state forces against critics of the administration.
The Duterte detractors which include members of organizations of government employees, public school teachers and public health workers have accentuated their plight of hardships on the President’s first three years in office.
“Promises of increasing salaries of government workers and ending contractualization remain unfulfilled. This renders the President’s pronouncements as mere election propaganda, or worse, an attempt to lull legitimate protests of public sector workers,” said Santiago Y. Dasmariňas, National President of COURAGE.
SUBSTANTIAL SALARY HIKE
Dasmariňas also condemned and questioned the government’s sense of fairness and equality that favored the police and the military.
“While the military and uniformed personnel enjoy the doubling of their salaries since January of 2018, civilian personnel are still struggling for a substantial salary increase,” lamented Dasmariñas.
He said salary Grade 1 employee only receives P11,068 monthly while entry-level teachers and nurses get a monthly salary of P20,754.
Dasmariñas noted that based on the computations of Ibon Foundation, the family living wage at present amounts to P26,104 while NEDA’s declared cost of decent living is Php42,000 monthly.
“Even worse is the plight of local government personnel as under the Local Budget Circular 118 of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), local government salary grade 1 employees only receive P7, 194 to P10, 515 monthly except for special cities and 1stclass provinces & cities,” added Erwin Lanuza of the League of Local Government Employees (LEAGUE).
“These are pitiful amounts and do not give justice to our service. Rank-and-file civilian employees like us are the backbone of the state’s fulfillment of its duty to deliver services to the people, we deserve to be granted decent compensation,” said Eleazar Sobinsky, Public Relations Officer of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) noted.
“We’re halfway through Duterte’s term; the time is NOW to lift its own workers from their dismal state due to meager pay. No more promises, what we need now is a concrete and decisive move to raise our salaries,” maintained ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio.
SECURITY OF TENURE
“The Duterte administration is never serious to end contractualization in the public sector. Instead of regularizing contractual government workers, it resorted to institutionalizing manpower agency hiring as a shortcut solution to the proliferation of contract of service workers in government. This will surely result to massive lay-off of contractual employees by January 2021,” said Roxanne Fernandez, spokesperson of Kawani Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon.
Fernandez has referred to the Joint Circular No. 1 series of 2018 of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Commission on Audit (COA) which prohibits the direct hiring of contractual employees by government agencies starting January 2021.
She noted there are currently an estimated 800,000 contractual employees in the government, making the government the biggest sole employer of contractual workers in the country.
“In addition, the privatization and corporatization of government agencies, public schools and public hospitals mainly affects the tenure of many government employees. The Policy of the Duterte administration was to trim down the bureaucracy thru anti-employee and anti-people laws,” said, Ramir Corcolon, Secretary General, Water Employees Response.
The Government Employees (GE) Unity group demanded drastic measures should be taken citing the worsening political repression against the ranks of unionists and activists in the public sector.
The group has emphasized the common cases of harassments, red tagging and illegal arrest of union organizers being carried out “to sow fear and suppress the growing discontent and protest of government employees.”
“We have monitored that the National Task Force Against Counter-Insurgency is making the rounds in government agencies, with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) officials maliciously alarming government offices against the so-called communist infiltration of the bureaucracy through COURAGE, ACT and AHW. They even falsely identify COURAGE former president and newly elected Bayan Muna representative Ferdinand Gaite and ACT teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, former Rep. Antonio Tinio and other union leaders as personalities of the CPP-NPA,” Joselyn Martinez of ACT said.
To this date, three public sector organizers from COURAGE were detained in Camp Bagong Diwa on trumped-up charges that maliciously connect them to New People’s Army (NPA). All GE Unity has also recorded numerous cases of harassment against public sector unions by state agents nationwide since Duterte came into power.
UNITED PEOPLE’S SONA
“Government workers will come out of our offices, schools, and hospitals to join the United People’s SONA protest on July 22. We will march along with the different sectors in our society who have had enough of the miseries inflicted by the Duterte regime,” announced Sobinsky.
“We call on our fellow employees and citizens to join us in our rally on July 22, 2019. Together, we will declare the true state of the nation and demand the Duterte to heed our just demands,” Dasmariñas concluded.