By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva has appealed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on Audit (COA) to also assure continued pay for contractual, third-party government service providers amid the strict community quarantine being imposed in Luzon and other areas of the country due to the coronavirus.
Villanueva on Saturday said he wrote Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado seeking clarification on the joint DBM-COA circular covering the salary continuance for contractual workers in government.
The chair of the Senate labor committee said that in his letter to Avisado, he asked for either a separate set of guidelines or an advisory covering the institutional contract of service (COS) workers.
Because under the Joint Circular No. 1, institutional COS workers assigned to government agencies, such as janitorial, security, consultancy, and other support services are excluded from benefiting from the continued salary payment during the quarantine period.
“These workers have been working alongside us in serving the people, and we believe that it is right and just to give them peace of mind, too, during this period,” Villanueva said.
“Will the third-party service contractors that deployed their workers in government agencies still be paid in full, and consequently, the deployed workers, even when the deployed workers are not reporting to work due to the community quarantine?” he asked Avisado.
Villanueva said the government agencies that engaged the services of third-party service providers should honor their contracts and also keep paying the displaced workers despite the quarantine.
He noted that agencies might run into an issue with the COA since they need to prove that they tapped third-party service providers.
“This is why we asked Secretary Avisado for another set of guidelines so that we can resolve problems that might arise,” Villanueva said.
“Our intention is for our workers to be able to provide for their families, and give them peace of mind as we face this mounting health crisis.”
The DBM-COA circular released Friday covers all job order and COS workers engaged by “Departments, Bureaus, Offices, and Agencies of the National Government, including Constitutional Offices, [State Universities and Colleges], [Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations], [Local Water Districts], for the duration of the State of Calamity and Community Quarantine due to COVID-19.”
Local government units are also encouraged to adopt the move.