The chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday admitted that 10,000 to 20,000 state workers will be affected by the initial implementation of the government rightsizing program.
In a news briefing, National Unity Party Rep. and Panel Chairman Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City, however, said the rightsizing program does not necessarily mean that all of the government employees will immediately lose their posts.
“Now, the 200,000 state workers that will allegedly be affected (by the program), not all of them will be affected. If ever, about 5 [percent] to 10 percent of the said number will really be affected by the rightsizing,” he said.
Under the rightsizing law, Nograles added a technical working group (TWG)will be created to scrutinize and study the agencies and offices that will be affected.
He said the study of the TWG will be then submitted to a committee, composed of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Executive Secretary, the National Economic and Development Authority and the Civil Service Commission.
“This committee will provide the final recommendation that will be submitted to President Duterte for final decision,” he added.
In anticipation of the enactment of the proposed Rightsizing the National Government Act, Nograles said some P10-billion fund was also allotted for its initial implementation under 2018 national budget.
“There are funds allotted for the rightsizing program in the 2018 budget under the pension and gratuity fund. In case the rightsizing bill is enacted into law by 2018, the DBM has prepared for its implementation. If I’m not mistaken, it’s P10 billion under the pension and gratuity fund,” he added.
“In fact, those who will be affected will be placed under a training pool, which will retool and retrain them for deployment to another government office. There is another option wherein they could receive a separation package offered by the government through this rightsizing bill. This is optional, this is not firing out, this is not mass layoff. This is not downsizing. We are just correcting the bureaucracy to make it leaner and trimmer, thus making delivery of public service more efficient,” he said.
For his part, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno assured lawmakers that teachers and health workers will not be affected by rightsizing program.
The rightsizing bill, certified as urgent by Duterte, was approved last week on the third and final reading by the House of Representatives.
Nograles, the primary author of the proposed rightsizing law, said his panel will conduct a performance audit on all government agencies so that they could determine if the funding allotted to them in 2017 were put to good use.
“We cannot keep on funding agencies that are perennial underperformers,” Nograles said.
Meanwhile, Party-list Reps. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers and France Castro opposed the approval of House Bill 5707 or the Government Rightsizing Bill.
Instead of answering the just demand of government employees and workers for salary increase and regularization, they said the government, through rightsizing, will only effect massive layoffs, retrenchment and displacement, and worsen contractualization.
The lawmakers, citing the DBM, said 16 percent of the 1.6 million total government positions—or 255,295 state workers—will be affected in the first year alone.
“Rightsizing will further deteriorate public services, since necessary personnel complement in frontline offices will be thinned. Those who will remain in government service, including teaching and medical positions, which allegedly will not be affected, will not be spared, as they will be forced to shoulder heavier workloads,” Tinio said.
The bill covers all agencies of the Executive branch, including departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils and all other entities attached to or under their administrative supervisions, government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) not covered by Republic Act 10149, or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.
It provides for the optional adoption of the rightsizing program by the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, the Office of the Ombudsman and local government units.
Under the bill, the President is granted the authority in the rightsizing of the operations of the Executive branch to pursue functional shifts/modifications; to undertake organizational actions; to undertake other functional/organizational actions as necessary, consistent with the policies, principles, frameworks and standards of the Act; to develop and provide safety nets, including their implementation strategies, for employees of departments/agencies who may be affected by the government’s rightsizing efforts; and to formulate an organizational development program to strengthen the institutional capacity of the agencies and improve productivity of employees.
Earlier, Duterte asked Congress to pass the rightsizing bill as the departments, agencies and other offices under the national government has reached 186 from just 176 in 2000.
He also said the government work force currently stands at 1.5 million positions compared to just 1.1 million in 2000.