THE House of Representatives has approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill 5707, also known as the “Rightsizing the National Government Act” which seeks to streamline the bureaucracy and improve the quality and efficiency of government service delivery.
The vote was 230-6-0. The Makabayan bloc voted against the measure, except for ACT Teachers Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio who was not around at the time of the voting.
The proposed Rightsizing Law was among the priority legislations cited by President Duterte in his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA).
According to the primary author of both bills, House Appropriations Committee Chair and Davao City Congressman Karlo Alexei Nograles, the proposed Rightsizing Law would reshape the government into a “lean and mean” bureaucracy as it rationalizes the functions and all government offices and their individual staffs.
The measure would cover 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 No. 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 (LGUs).
“ This measure would correct the overlapping and duplication of functions of our government offices and their staffs. This will ensure the long term sustainability of our government service through resource mobilization and cost effective public expenditure management,” said Nograles.
Under the bill, the President of the Philippines is granted the authority to “rightsize” the bureaucracy by abolishing government positions that are considered to be non-performing and unnecessary.
It provides for the creation of the Committee on Rightsizing the Executive Branch to oversee the implementation of the Act.
The Committee shall be composed of the Executive Secretary as the Chairperson, and the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as Co-Chairperson and with the Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning, Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Head of the Presidential Management Staff as members.
The proposal mandates the submission to the President the “rightsized” organizational structure of agencies concerned and the corresponding executive issuances within 250 daysfrom the effectivity of the IRR of the Act.
The heads of agencies are required to prepare and submit to the DBM the detailed organizational structure and staffing of their respective agencies within 90 days after the approval of the proposed executive issuances by the President.
The affected personnel hired on a permanent basis and with appointments attested by the CSC, shall be entitled to retirement benefits and separation incentives with an option to avail themselves of retirement gratuity provided under Republic Act (RA) No. 1616; or Retirement benefits under RA No. 660; or Retirement, separation or unemployment benefit provided under RA No. 8291.
In addition to the said retirement benefits, the affected personnel who would opt to retire or be separated shall be entitled to the following applicable separation incentives:
1) One half of the actual monthly basic salary for every year of government service, for those who have rendered less than 11 years of service;
2) Three fourth of the actual monthly basic salary for every year of government service, computed starting from the first year, for those who have rendered 11 to less than 21 years of service;
3) The actual monthly basic salary for every year of government service, computed starting from the first year for those who have rendered 21 to less than 31 years of service; and
4) One and one fourth of the actual monthly basic salary for every year of government service, computed starting from the first year, for those who have rendered 31 years of service and above.
A minimum of five years of government service is required in order for an affected personnel to be entitled to avail of the Program’s separation incentives provided under this measure.
Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Isagani Zarate voted no to the government rightsizing bill because “rightsizing is just a neoliberal euphemism for more contractualization of public sector jobs and privatization of basic services. Ergo, more profit for big business. Rightsizing is an affront to the security of tenure of public sector workers in the guise of efficiency.”
Anakpawis Cong. Ariel Casilao said, “We have already manifested our opposition since comm deliberation of the bill. This will lead to massive disenfranchisement or termination of thousands of govt.workers. this will also worsen the sorry state of hundreds of thousand contractuals in diff national depts, bureaus, agencies. While it is worthy to agree on the premise of efficient delivery of service, rightsizing is not the only way to achieve the latter”
ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro blasted the approval. “We condemn the approval of HB 5707 for the rightsizing of national government agencies as this will be no different from the rationalization schemes of past administrations which caused untold damages to government workers and to public service. Instead of answering the just demand of government employees and workers for salary increase and regularization, government through rightsizing will only effect massive layoffs, retrenchment, and displacement, and worsen contractualization. The proponents including the DBM admitted that 16% of the 1.6 million total government positions—or 255,295 state workers—will be affected in the first year alone.”
Both said that 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. Government agencies will hire more and more personnel on contracts of service (COS) and job orders (JO) who will not be considered as government employees and will not be paid the salaries and job security as such. After the previous rationalization programs and the imposition of freeze hiring, we have seen an unprecedented increase in JO and COS workers. Their number has already reached 595,192 by 2016, and this will increase even more with DBM-CSC-COA Joint Circular # 1, or the new rules and regulations governing the hiring on COSs and JOs.
Also approved on 3rd reading is the proposed HB 5865 or the “Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” which aims to improve seafarers’ working conditions, terms of employment and career prospects, and to uplift the socio-economic well-being of their families.
(natsots and statements)