The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) this week regularized 15 personnel who have been working as casual and contractual workers in the PCOO for over 10 years.
In a statement from the Office of the Global Media and Public Affairs (PCOO-OGMPA), the PCOO said the move was made in line with the celebration of the agency’s 11th anniversary wherein an additional 32 regular employees were hired.
Communications Secretary Andanar led the oath-taking ceremony and signing of the appointment papers of the newly regularized personnel on Monday, October 18, at the Times Plaza Building, Manila, the new office of the PCOO.
Among the 15 employees regularized were drivers who have been hired as contract of service (COS) workers for years. Aside from the security of tenure, the said employees will receive benefits, a year-end bonus, a performance-based bonus, incentives, and allowances.
The PCOO has started regularizing employees who had been with the PCOO for five years or longer since Andanar took office in 2016.
In July, the agency requested additional plantilla positions from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for its employees. The COS employees have also undergone Civil Service Examination (CSE) last July to qualify for the plantilla positions.
A plantilla is a government-approved listing of positions in any governmental institution.
This year, the DBM has granted the PCOO around 27 plantilla positions but the agency is working on increasing this number in order to regularize more of its employees amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In July this year, the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the PCOO for its “unrestricted and massive” hiring of contractual employees that cost the agency P70.6 million, an amount the COA said could have been used for “other programs and projects of the government.”
The COA said the number of contractual personnel accounted for 70 percent of PCOO’s total workforce. It was also 260 percent higher than the 114 regular employees in the agency.
In an interview with ANC, Communications Undersecretary Kris Ablan justified the hiring, saying most of the tasks assigned to COS personnel were “highly technical.” He likewise denied that the people hired were acting as internet trolls.
“We don’t have trolls at PCOO,” he said.
“The social media specialists in the COA report are actually our graphic artists who upload our socmed (social media) cards, our infographics explaining our programs on PhilSys (Philippine Identification System), COVID-19 (coronavirus disease( response and the vaccines,” he added.