By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Manila-Employees of the Philippine Postal Corporation are up in arms against the new administration led by former Bulacan governor Maria Josefina Mendoza de la Cruz over its rationalization program.
The two biggest employees union in Philpost, the PhilPost Rank-and-File Employees Association, Inc. (PRAFEA) – Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and PhilPost Workers Union (PWU) have declared an all-out war against the rationalization scheme. The unions said De la Cruz was basing the lay-off scheme on a law that has already expired.Last February, the unions also wrote President Benigno Aquino III, through executive secretary Paquito Ochoa saying that there were many issues and concerns which badly and urgently need the president’s attention.
Based on dead law
“The PhilPost administration is using an expired law to justify the rationalization scheme — the Appropriations Act of 2003, also known as Republic Act No. 9206 wherein the President is allowed to direct changes in the offices under the Executive Department, including the abolition of positions or units within the offices that will result to loss of jobs if implemented.
“There was no appropriations act that was passed by the Congress for 2004, resulting in the Constitution-sanctioned automatic re-enactment of the same budget law as the budget act for 2004. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued on October 4, 2004 Executive Order No. 366 directing ‘a strategic review of the operations and organizations of the Executive Branch and providing options and incentives for government employees who may be affected by the rationalization,’ but this law has already lapsed,” the unions said.
The unions said De Jesus’ rationalization scheme was using Sections 77 and 78 of RA 9206. This law, in turn, was based on Executive Order 366 which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued on May 11, 2005 which also stated the same.
The two union’s lawyer, Cirilo Sabarre Jr., said the law that supposedly legalizes rationalization in PhilPost is already “a dead law.”
“An appropriation or a budget law expires upon the expiration of the year or fiscal year that it is intended to govern. If it is an appropriations law for 2003, the title of the said law itself provides that it is a law for the period of January 1, 2003 up to December 31, 2003. If the authority of the President to direct changes based on the reenacted law in 2004, the authority of the President automatically ceased after the expiration of December 31, 2004 and it becomes ineffective on January 1, 2005,” he said.
“The only exception to this rule of expiration is when the budget law itself expressly provides that a particular provision is to be effective beyond the period for which the law was enacted. In the case of RA 9206, it does not say if Sections 77 and 78 shall be effective till eternity or until revoked by a later law.”
In the meantime, even as the PhilPost administration is bent on firing employees, controversy has also erupted over how the Post Master general has hired 63 new employees and given them shockingly high salaries and perks.
The Civil Service Commission has released a list titled “Year 2012 Vacancies in the Government, Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC)” and it was said that there thousands of posts vacant at the PhilPost. the list of vacant posts is currently on display at the CSC Field Office in Metropolitan Theatre in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila, as well as at the front office of the Human Resource Development Department of PhilPost. The vacancy announcement is reportedly not posted elsewhere.
“The Postmaster General’s hiring of these employees is very unfortunate and ill-timed as she has just dismissed indiscriminately, without due process, hundreds of employees of PhilPost who have been in the service from four to 20 years. These casuals were receiving then a salary of P285.65 ($ 6.627) per day; without work, of course during Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Those dismissed were immediately replaced with people who come from the PMG’s [Postmaster General] own province of Bulacan. We cannot help but see that this is a self-serving move: to satisfy her and her own family’s political agenda and to promote her and her own family’s political career in Bulacan, literally at the expense of the PhilPost employees and of the funds of the state-owned courier service,” the unions said.
In the last three months, 40 long-term employees were unceremoniously fired on flimsy reasons such as tardiness. They were fired without notices, while 26 others were laid off but provided with notices of termination.
In the meantime, De la Cruz reportedly hired an executive assistant who is now receiving P28,265.00 ($657) plus allowances; a new planning officer V ( P28,265.00 or $657 plus allowances per month for three months from January 16 to March 31, 2012); a management consultant (P70,000 or $1,627 for three months), an organizational development consultant (P70,000 or $ 1,627); a human resources management consultant (P70,000 or $1,627 for three months); an executive assistant V (P28,265.00 or $657), a chauffeur (P11,087.00 or $255), an executive assistant III ( P23,416.00 of $ 544.558 with a P34,416 or $800 bonus & cash gift); an acting director (P34,250 or $796 with a P39,250 or $913 bonus & cash gift), an acting manager (P31,097.50 or $723 and P36,097.50 or $837 bonus and cash gift.) These are some of the posts that De Jesus has reportedly filled and there are 63 new employees who have been hired since January 2012.
The unions already wrote to the PhilPost Postmaster General, the PhilPost Board and its legal department. They also have written to Malacañang on the unceremonious firing from the Philipost of Ma. Lourdes C. Vilarico, an emergency laborer who has worked in the PhilPost for the last 25 years. Vilarico was reportedly fired for an expose’ she made concerning a multi-million issue involving the mailing arrangements of Banco de Oro.
The two unions also said that what De la Cruz did was in violation of Section 7 (on the prohibition on hiring/ rehiring of personnel during plan preparation) of Executive Order No. 366 (Directing a strategic review of the operations and organizations of the Executive Branch and providing options and incentives for government employees who may be affected by the Rationalization of the functions and agencies of the Executive Branch).
The said provision states that “Except for newly created agencies, the hiring of additional personnel (permanent, temporary, contractual or casual), and the renewal of contracts/ appointments of all employees hired on contractual, casual or temporary basis is hereby prohibited during the preparation of the Plan.”
The two unions also said President Aquino would do well to look into the two criminal cases against his appointee De la Cruz [Criminal Case No. SB-11-CRM-0279 and 0280] at the Sandiganbayan. De la Cruz was appointed on July 19, 2011 despite the pending corruption charges against her. They also decried how de la Cruz and her new board passed a resolution approving exorbitant salary increases for themselves. From P120,000 ($ 2, 790.00) monthly, d=De la Cruz ruled via the resolution that she will as of February 2012 be getting P155,000 ($3,604.00). The assistant post master generals will be getting P125,000 ( $2,907.00) from the former P90,000 ($2,093) monthly. The salary adjustments were also said to be retroactive up to January 2012.
Cases at the Ombudsman
In December 11, 2011, the two unions filed various administrative and criminal cases at the Office of the Ombudsman against former and incumbent officials of the Philippine Postal Corporation Provident Fund Office (PFO) after some PFO members have discovered multimillion peso irregularities in the management and operations of the said fund.
In the joint complaint – affidavit signed by PhilPost employees and inactive or incumbent members of the PFO Tirso N. Paglicawan, Jr., Cesar C. Gomez, Dante Dean M. Barola and Manuel G. Rama, they alleged that PFO officials have violated countless civil service laws and committed criminal acts of corruption, tax evasion, and other acts of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance.
The group charged Administrator Evelyn S. Banares; the members of the PFO Board of Trustees namely Assistant Postmaster General Elizabeth C. Tungol, APMG for Administration Mama S. Lalanto, Diosdado C. de Guzman and Merle B. Narvaez; PFO Legal Counsel Atty. Lee P. Viceral, PhilPost Internal Audit Service Director Francis T. Cereno, Rosario L. de Ocampo, Edgardo G. Torres, Ramon L. Gelvezon, former PhilPost Board Chairman Alfredo G. Gabot and former PhilPost Postmaster General Hector R.R. Villanueva
The complainants also filed well a motion for the respondents’ urgent preventive suspension declaring that the evidence of guilt against said respondents is strong. They said that the matter involved the respondents’ use of government funds and properties.
Paglicawan said the respondents should be immediately declared guilty. “There are irrefutable proof against these officers or employees that they have committed gross misconduct and gross neglect in the performance of duty. Their dishonest acts warrant dismissal from the service. Their continued stay in office may prejudice the just, fair and independent disposition of the cases filed against them,” he said.
They also alleged that the respondents have continuously and repeatedly committed the aforementioned violations, in their individual or joint capacities, previous and present, as officials of PhilPost and as officials of the PFO, in concurrent capacity.