Arguments and Discourse on the Rationalization Plan
On behalf of the Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU), we are providing our brothers and sisters in the government service some valid questions and arguments in order to have a better understanding of the issues on the Rationalization Plan of the Government. A Rationalization Plan backed-up by contradictions and inconsistencies, yet, being used by the Macapagal Arroyo Administration to justify and satisfy the whims and dictates of multilateral institutions without due concern on the estimated 420,000 government worker who stand to lose their jobs should the plan be finally implemented. We also want to bring to the attention of every government workers how the plan was crafted and kept from our knowledge until it was finally finished and ready for implementation.
Consultation / Participation and Transparency
We are not against the idea of reorganization per se as we are also aware of the dysfunctions in the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, the planning, an important part, should have been done with the participation of and broad consultation with the workers’ organization/unions as we are the major stakeholders who would be most affected.
Sometime in July last year, we, together with leaders of other employees organization were called by the Civil Service Commission to present to us the output of the Presidential Committee on Effective Governance, the committee that crafted the Rationalization Plan. In the said venue we raised the issue of participation and why it was kept from our knowledge. It was no less than the CSC Chairperson who answered and we quote, “we just did not involve you nor let you be informed because generally, your union leaders cannot keep confidential matters”. What good governance can we expect if the very elements such as transparency and participation are not observed?
The canvassing of the votes for President and Vice President are not over yet. The Civil Service Commission and the Department of Budget and Management have come out the announcement that they will pursue the plan which will trim down the government workforce by 30 percent or 420,000 workers. The Macapagal-Arroyo Administration boasts that it can achieve the target of one million jobs to be created. How can this be true if 420,000 workers care to lose their jobs? The cutting down of the workforce through the rationalization plan is immoral and untimely considered that at the moment we are in a crisis brought about by the oil price hike, which we know has a domino effect on price of commodities and other services including power and transportation. The Macapagal-Arroyo Administration has no serious intention to provide its workers with salary increase , something she never did since PGMA assumed the presidency, worse, the solution want, to prescribe is to kick 420,000 workers out of their jobs.
This is not poverty reduction but rather economic stagnation if not worsening of living standards.
They say that the rationalization plan if implemented, will address the inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the bureaucracy. The issues of inefficiency and bloated bureaucracy rooted from the inefficiency of the past and present administrations to curb corruption both at revenue generation and capital expenditure side which involves millions of kickback on ghost projects and purchases to name a few. And it is a fact that corruption happens more often at the higher level of the bureaucracy.
They say that privatizing the delivery of some services done by the government can make the bureaucracy efficient and effective. We don’t learn from lessons of the past when MWSS was privatized. Has the Maynilad Water Inc. brought its service delivered of better quality? And to make things worse, see how the government of Macapagal-Arroyo bailed out a distressed corporation. Privatization is a pre-condition for IMF-WB to fund some projects by the Administration. Are they saying there is an alternative?
This rationalization plan is also faced with some legal questions, which should not be ignored. How can certain agencies created through legislative action or with Presidential Decree be deactivated and virtually be abolished by mere Executive Order? This is an encroachment on the powers and functions of the legislative branch. It is like issuing presidential decree during the dictatorship. If the President can do this, why can’t she issue an Executive Order repealing the Presidential decree of Marcos on the Automatic Appropriation for Debt Servicing? Why are we repeatedly told that workers’ demand for the amendments of Executive Order No. 180 or Public Sector Unionism is not possible at the Executive Department because it requires legislative action? Another inconsistency. The plan, which will eventually render the 420,000 workers jobless, is likewise unconstitutional, as it will violate the security of tenure of state workers.
The plan is tainted with political deception since it was shelved temporarily because pursuing such plan during election period would be unpopular and a political suicide, yet now, even the canvassing of votes is to be finished the plan has all of a sudden resurrected. It was like Gloria promising to the government employees, “I will not kick you out of your jobs if you will vote for me” and now that the election is over, she says, “JOKE ONLY, some has to go pala”.
While the bright people who crafted the plan keep on denying that the primary objective of the plan is to cut public spending by retrenching government workers, obviously this is a half truth, and we all know that a half truth is a whole lie. Again, cutting down the public spending through this scheme will not solve the deficit problem if collection of revenues and expenditure of government is riddled with corruption, and the policy of the government on debt servicing is not changed. How can we solve the problem of budget deficit if almost half of our budget is spent on debt servicing? We are in a debt trap wherein we are availing of new loans to pay the interest of previous loans. Why let other people suffer the consequences of some people’s inefficiency and ill-practice?
The CSC and DBM are promising to high heavens that there are safety nets for those who will be affected in the implementation of the plan, but those safety nets in the form of separation pay will further worsen the situation and make the lives of the affected government workers more miserable. First, the separation benefit being offered is very minimal. Second, most of us government employees are debt ridden because for more than three years now we never receive an increase in our salaries hence our low income are augmented by loans from various sources/institutions such as GSIS, PAG-IBIG, etc. The loan balance will automatically be deducted from the minimal amount of separation benefits that we will receive so that what would be left may not be even enough to tide us over until we find another gainful employment/occupation. Worse, our children will be forced to quit school and would add-up to the existing social problems.
Moreover, saying that there are available safety nets is not easy to swallow at the present situation. Many government workers had retired and been out of the service for almost a year but have not receive yet the pension for their having dedicated the most productive years of their lives to government service. Some had retired many years ago but have been experiencing delayed pension payments. In short, walang pera ang gobyerno. GSIS & DBM top officials are pointing fingers at each other di kaya mas mabuti ayusin muna ni secretary Boncodin ito before going into another big issue where government workers will again be the sacrificial lambs?
We therefore strongly say NO to this rationalization plan for reason that it is irrational. Solve the issue of corruption first, make tax collection more efficient before we can be made to believe that the Arroyo administration is reforming the bureaucracy. Do not make state workers as scapegoats of the government’s own inefficiencies.