Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto called for the initial doubling of the number of permanent job items in the Department of Social Welfare and Development – which he called the “contractualization capital” of the bureaucracy – due to its high number of temporary employees.
Recto said the agency only has 2,842 regular employees to serve a clientele base of 28 million, on whom P137.5 billion will be spent next year.
“Since 2010, ang budget ng DSWD lumobo na ng 800 percent, pero ang bilang ng actual na regular na empleyado 10 percent lang ang itinaas,” the veteran legislator said.
To be able to meet its multiple mandates, DSWD has been forced to hire a large army of temporary employees numbering 25,122, “under an alphabet soup of hiring schemes.”
“It has 1,351 ‘J.O.’ workers or those covered by Job Orders. Mayroong mga na-hire under ‘MOA’ or Memorandum of Agreement and ‘COS’ or Contract of Service. These two account for 14,189. Yung mga contractuals aabot ng 9,582,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
“The result is that 9 in 10 DSWD employees are temps. Those hired through JO, MOA and COS have no allowances, no bonuses, no pension. All of them have no security of tenure. Most of them have contracts that are renewed every six months or yearly. This is a class of ‘endo’ workers,” the senator from Batangas lamented.
“Another bad side effect of having a big budget and a small staff is that when funds are not liquidated by DSWD recipients, the responsible DSWD officers are the ones sanctioned. Dahil maraming hindi na pwede pumirma ng releases, nade-delay ang implementation ng mga proyekto,” Recto said.
This, he said, is reflected in the DSWD’s ability to spend allotments, having failed to obligate P23 billion of this since 2015.
“Kawawa ang mga DSWD employees. Halimbawa, kapag ang local government hindi na-account ang pondong na-download sa kanila, ang DSWD responsible officer ang natatamaan,” Recto said.
He said the DSWD and the Department of Budget and Management, which is empowered to approve personnel positions, “must now create a pathway for the regularization of these temporary workers, many of whom have been serving for years.”
“In the meantime, maybe we can find a way to grant them some benefits already allowed by existing laws. Mayroong iba dyan 10, 20 years na sa serbisyo, contractual pa rin. And these are not just office workers, but frontline and field workers,” Recto said.
He is batting for a gradual expansion of DSWD’s authorized personnel ceiling which is 3,226 at present. “Let’s double it first. Then we add more positions later.”
For the 25,000-plus non-regular employees, Recto is urging DSWD and DBM to jointly study a compensation scheme in which their allowances can be increased “based on the equal pay for equal work doctrine.”
“Imagine, four annual increases na ang dumaan sa SSL III, from 2009 to 2012. Tapos, mayroong ongoing four annual increases under SSL IV, pero yung sa mga casuals, tila yata nakapako. Those who are fighting poverty are poor themselves,” he said, referring to the two rounds of Salary Standardization Law hikes.
Recto said the DSWD’s proposed 2018 budget of P137.5 billion is P9.5 billion bigger than what it will get this year.
The bulk of DSWD’s budget will go to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the cash transfer program that will be given P89.4 billion next year.