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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ople Center urges deferment of government’s rationalization program

Given the rising tide of unemployment in the country, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center urged the government to suspend Executive Order No. 366 otherwise known as the rationalization plan meant to streamline the bureaucracy and provide options and incentives for affected government personnel.

“A deferment or suspension of the rationalization program would enable all departments to focus on the primordial task of job creation and preservation as more jobs are at risk due to the financial crisis. Government cannot be in the business of creating jobs and assisting displaced workers at a time of crisis when thousands of civil servants are also uncertain about their own careers in the bureaucracy,” the Center pointed out.

Under EO 366, all department secretaries are directed to conduct a “strategic review” of their agencies’ operations and organizations in order to improve efficiency and quality of services “through the rationalization of service delivery and support systems, and organization structure and staffing.”

Section 8 of the EO states that affected personnel have the option to:

Remain in government service, if with permanent appointment attested by the Civil Service Commission. Those with temporary appointment attested by the CSC may opt to remain but are guaranteed tenure up to the expiration of their appointment only; or,
Avail of the retirement/separation benefits

Under the said provision, affected personnel who opt to stay in government service shall be placed in other agencies by the CSC where additional personnel are required. Those who would later object to the new job assignment shall be deemed separated or retired and shall be paid retirement, separation or unemployment benefits.

Susan Ople, president of the BFO Policy Center, noted that resources needed to finance the rationalization program can be conserved and put to use in fielding more people in regional offices to help implement their respective agencies’ economic resiliency packages and programs.

The Center pointed out that the government would need to beef up its field offices in the implementation of a nationwide economic stimulus package. “The executive branch would require all hands on deck for its stimulus plan to take off particularly in the most remote parts of the country. A deferment of the rationalization program is called for, to give national employees some breathing room to serve others rather than be embroiled in their own individual struggle for survival.”
Based on a paper entitled, “Re-engineering the Bureaucracy: Issues and Problems” published by the Senate Economic Planning Office in April 2005, the government is the single biggest employer in the country with one out of five Filipinos in the labor force a government employee.

As of 2001, the number of public sector employees reached 1.53 million. The education sector comprises more than half of total civilian national government employees. The growth in public sector employment has exerted pressure on the national budget. According to the 2005 SEPO paper, these personnel services account for more than 30 percent of the budget.

The Center stressed that the rapid spread of the ill-effects of the financial crisis requires the national government to maintain a sharp focus on job generation and preservation rather than the rationalization of its own employees.

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