DILG disputes reports of mounting complaints on salary delays of contact tracers

Mounting complaints on salary delays have been raised by contact tracers who were hired by the government to help identify and locate those who have close contacts with coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-infected persons.

But Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya shot down the salary delay grievance complaint stressing that it does not allude to the department as it has dutifully paid the contact tracers’ salaries on time.

“All DILG contact tracers nationwide are paid on time. The funds for their salaries and operations were all downloaded to our field offices and they get their salaries via their LBP (Landbank of the Philippines) account,’’ Malaya said.

“I cannot speak for those hired by LGUs (local government units) directly or those hired by DOLE through the TUPAD program. Our contact tracer numbers nationwide are consistent and have not decreased. We are happy with the performance of our DILG CTs (contact tracers),’’ he added.

The issue came at the heels of claims of the delay in the salaries of a group of contact tracers assigned in one of the barangays in the third district of Quezon City.

A 21 year-old contact tracer, who requested anonymity bemoaned the two-week delays in her paycheck with her family in dire financial strait and a single day of not getting the expected income causes more woes in the household due to their escalating bills and loans that should be paid.

The complaining contact tracer revealed being hired by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged / Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.

Under the no work no pay scheme, the complaining contact tracer stated having started her contact tracing duties last May which expires every three months.

After finishing the contract, she noted the month-long lull before the renewal of another three months which carries a daily pay of P537.

“Nag-start (as a contact tracer) ako ng May (2021). Natapos contract ko after three months ng August. September wala akong trabaho narenew na lang kontrata ko ng October at matatapos ng December (I started in May. My contract ended after three months in August. I have no work in September and my contract was renewed in October and will end in December),’’ the contact tracer said.

She noted several other DOLE hired contact tracers have expressed preference to transfer to the DILG’s contact tracing team whose salaries are given on time.

However, Malaya said there are no available contact tracer slots at the DILG at present but noted that “at the end of the year, sa renewal ( in the renewal) we can accommodate new ones.’’

The DILG spokesperson revealed that the DILG had requested an additional P6.6 billion budget for the hiring of its contact tracers for 2022.

“We’re waiting for the third reading copy of the GAA (General Appropriations Act) Bill from the House but we have been assured by the House leadership that it will be approved,’’ Malaya explained. (Chito A. Chavez)