By JUAN ESCANDOR Jr
NAGA CITY: Amid controversy over a letter of the mayor of this city asking the city council to revert fund for the bonus which will be received less than the actual amount signed, an official of the city employees’ group lauded the continuing practice of sharing bonuses with other lowly employees, a tradition that began during the time of the late Jesse M. Robredo.
Phil Rodriguez, a permanent employee and president of Naga City Local Government Employees’ Alliance (Nacilgea), said an overwhelming majority of employees approved of the practice so that every employee, regardless of the status of his appointment, can enjoy the benefits during Christmas time, even as he said there are a number who are against it.
In a letter dated Dec 6 addressed to “The Honorable Members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, thru Nelson S. Legacion, city vice-mayor and presiding officer,” Mayor John Bongat requested from the city council the passage of an ordinance reverting the amount of P32.7M from the salary savings of various departments and offices for Personnel Enhancement Incentive (PEI) bonus.
Bongat further instructed the council members the manner by which the bonus will be disbursed as follows:
“As a matter of disclosure, permanent and casual employees will sign for P35,850.00 but will only collect P25,000.00, the excess will be pooled for sharing with job order and contractual personnel of the city government, who under the rules, are not entitled to the PEI.”
Bongat said “the job order and contractuals will receive P25,000 but inclusive of the adjustments in their rates effective Oct 1, 2013.”
Budget Circular No. 2013-3 dated Nov 21, 2013 excludes consultants, laborers, student laborers, and apprentices, and individuals and groups hired through job contract to receive PEI.
Rodriguez recalled that the first-time it was practiced was that they were asked by Robredo to sign for P7,000 bonus but to actually receive P5,000.
“The bonus then was not as much as now.”
Rodriguez revealed Nacilgea provided the “manifesto of commitment” to institutionalize the practice” that had been going on for years.
A “manifesto of commitment” that casual and permanent employees have to sign, stated they “voluntarily waive and/or donate such amount in excess of net sum fixed by concerned city officials less the required tax in favor of the city’s job order, contractual and consultant employees as our way of showing our benevolence as well as appreciation to their support to our work.”
With the passage of the ordinance appropriating P32.7M for PEI, casual and permanent employees will actually receive P10,000 less than what they have signed.
City councilor Nathan Sergio raised alarm that the directive from the mayor may be violating the basic rights of casual and permanent employees as it appeared to be arbitrary.
Sergio said he did not mind the intention of sharing and compassion to the employees who are not included to receive the PEI but it must be done on voluntary basis.
“Let those employees receiving the PEI to determine how much they will share but do not dictate on them how much they are giving,” he said.
Sergio acknowledged the tradition of sharing to employees not covered by PEI during Christmas season started during Robredo’s time but he iterated that it was done after a long process of consultation with the affected employees and never arbitrary.
Francisco Mendoza, a long-time city hall employee of the city hall and now the budget officer, cannot remember exactly when the tradition of sharing to non-qualified city employees the bonuses of permanent and casual employees actually began.
Mendoza could say that it may have started during the time of Jesse Robredo’s second three-term as mayor of this city in 2001 after the latter finished short-term course in governance at the Harvard University.
He said the practice has been there for years and the same people who approved them for the past consecutive years were the same; and that from those who approved the sharing of bonus for the past years are now against it.
Mendoza admitted that the consultation with the employees was done after the city council approved the budget but emphasized that the consultation was held before the bonuses were released.
He is confident the procedure and practice of chipping-in from casual and permanent employees to share to other employees is legal.
Mendoza said the city hall has a total of 540 casual and permanent employees and 355 employees working under job order or contractual basis. – Bicol News