Gov’t urged to extend services of contractual employees

TO ensure job retention, a Mindanao House leader on Tuesday urged President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte to extend the service of contractual employees in the bureaucracy up to yearend to further mitigate the economic impact of the deadly coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) to workers.

In a letter to the President, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, citing data from the Civil Service Commission (CSC), said there are about 700,000 personnel on so-called job-order or contract-of-service arrangement.

Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said these employees are not covered by the Civil Service Law and don’t enjoy the benefits of regular personnel and their contracts are good for six months only, subject to renewal.

“With the current COVID-19 situation, the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and lockdowns happening all over the country, it is becoming clear that there is a very strong possibility that the contracts of these employees might not be renewed or extended,” said Rodriguez.

He informed the President that the Workers of Government Movement in Cagayan de Oro City has sought his help in having the service of contractual personnel retained after the expiration of their contracts.

“As such, may I endorse their request for the contracts of these workers to be securely extended until Dec. 31, 2020. This will provide security to them in these uncertain times,” he said.

Rodriguez pointed out that government agencies have funds in their budgets for contractual personnel.

They can also seek Malacañang approval to use savings during the enhance community quarantine period to extend the service of these employees, he said.

In a related development, Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Alfred Delos Santos urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to consider exempting small business owners from paying the rental fees for the period covering the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Delos Santos said providing a 30-day grace period on all commercial rents of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the payment of rental fees is not enough to survive the impact of the dreaded coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).

In a letter to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez dated April 13, 2020, Delos Santos has requested the DTI to modify its Memorandum Circular No. 20-12 issued on April 4, which provides for a grace period on payment of commercial rental fee during the ECQ and settling it under a six-month installment plan to help them cope with the pandemic that has forced many businesses to shut down.

“However, Ang Probinsyano party-list would like to propose a modified solution for the MSME sector,” Delos Santos said in his letter to Lopez.

“Instead of a 30-day grace period or a six-month installment payment plan which will still entail full rental costs on the part of MSME despite the lack of inflow of income and continuing overhead costs, we are respectfully suggesting to either waive the rental costs for MSMEs for the duration of the ECQ or provide a certain percentage of discount on the rental costs of MSMEs,” the lawmaker appealed to Lopez.

By doing so, Delos Santos added, MSMEs, which are considered the backbone of the Philippine economy, have a better chance to recover their losses and stay financially afloat to continue their businesses.

“Wala kasi silang kita ngayon tapos kahit naman walang operations, nagpapasahod pa rin yung iba sa mga empleyado nila at may passive operational costs din para sa mga equipment nila, freezer, storage at iba pa. Puro palabas yung pera ng mga MSME kaya kung hindi natin sila tutulungan baka malugi ang marami sa kanila,” he explained.

MSMEs, which account for 3.4 million employees across the country based on government records, are in a very difficult position after the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) ordered them not to lay off their workers, the party-list lawmaker said.

“We really have to protect the MSMEs being the backbone of our economy. Malaking porsyento ng mga trabaho ang nililikha ng mga MSME at kung malulugi sila, magkakaron ng domino effect ito. Kaya dapat bawasan natin kahit konti ‘yung mga kailangan nilang bayaran sa commercial rents para pagkatapos ng ECQ ay kaya nilang makabawi sa negosyo,” Delos Santos pointed out.