LUCENA CITY—Four days after firing more than 800 contractual employees of city hall, newly installed Mayor Roderick Alcala yon Monday announced that he would keep more than 600 of them until their contracts expire at the end of the year.
Alcala said the majority of those who were immediately dismissed were appointed by his predecessor, ousted Mayor Barbara Ruby Talaga. He described them as “casualties” but did not elaborate.
Talaga gave up her post last week after the Supreme Court ruled that her election candidacy was invalid, paving the way for her replacement by the vice mayor.
Records at the city’s human resources department placed at 869 the number of employees whose contracts would expire by yearend.
In an interview, Alcala said nearly 100 of the over 150 employees who were terminated were assigned to the mayor’s office, while the rest were at the municipal social welfare office, which supervises the project funded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide cash assistance to poor families.
The new mayor claimed many of those hired by Talaga and assigned to her office were “ghost employees” who regularly received salaries without actually working.
“We will continue to clean up the list of casuals to get rid of these ghost employees,” Alcala said.
His claim was described as “baseless and a pure dirty political trick” by Talaga’s husband, former Mayor Ramon Talaga Jr., who was also city administrator during his wife’s tenure. “The people of Lucena will never believe him come election in May 2013,” he said in a phone interview.
Ramon Talaga and Alcala will square off for the mayoral post in next year’s elections.
Alcala said the contractual employees were directed to bring their resumés to his city administrator and uncle, Anacleto Alcala Jr., to determine who will be rehired after Dec. 31.
The administrator clarified that the new mayor did not intend to revoke the contracts of the contractual employees en masse. He explained that the new administration just wanted to evaluate their job performance.
“That’s why we’re asking them to submit their resumés. We’re in the process of rehiring them based on merit,” Anacleto told the Inquirer.
Several employees who were retained were overjoyed. “Thank God. There is really Christmas after all,” said a casual clerk who voted for Talaga in the last election. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon