Efficiency, honesty pledged on DOTr’s first day in Clark
CLARK FREEPORT—Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and 104 employees of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) marked their first day at their new central office on Friday by raising the Philippine flag and pledging efficiency and honesty in government service.
Assembling at the tree-lined grounds of the former Cyber City hub here, they moved here from Mandaluyong City and were joined by officials of about 18 attached agencies regulating land, rail, air and sea travel in the country.
At 8 a.m., they heard mass where Tugade later addressed opposition raised by the DOTr employees’ union regarding the central office’s relocation to Clark, 100 kilometers north of Metro Manila.
“I appeal to our employees to make some sacrifices. But harvests will be many for the country,” he said after reiterating that the transfer was a step towards the decongestion of Metro Manila as well as the development of a national government center in Clark.
The operations of the Clark International Airport here is supervised by the DOTr.
“If you don’t like to move to Clark, you have such options like availing of an early retirement, or resigning or transferring to another government agency,” said Tugade, who reported for work despite a fever.
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is also establishing its headquarters in Clark.
“We’re moving in early 2018,” BCDA president and chief executive officer, Vivencio Dizon, said during a short program. But the BCDA will still maintain an office at the Bonifacio Global City, the first city it built out of Fort Bonifacio (formerly Fort McKinley).
The remaining 650 DOTr employees will transfer here in batches until the end of 2017. Once the relocation is completed, the DOTr can either lease or sell the more than 50 units it owns at the Columbia Tower in Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong.
The agency will also let go of 17 units in the same building which DOTr has been renting, according to Leah Quiambao, DOTr assistant secretary for legal affairs and communications.
“The transfer really comes with a cost but we can realize revenues. [Employees opposing the transfer] have to see it on an annual basis,” she said. Savings from foregone rent are estimated at P9 million annually.
According to Quiambao, public funds are not wasted since lease payments go to another government agency, in this case, the Clark Development Corp., which charges DOTr a monthly rate of P300 per square meter.
She said not all members of the union were opposing the transfer. She said Tugade was transparent about the move. “He allowed them to organize their union. He does not block media access to union leaders. There are no reprisals. And dialogs are held with management,” she said. “We are open to additional discussions,” she added.
Employees are offered free shuttle to and from Clark during workdays, with the first bus scheduled to leave Ortigas every 5 a.m. and the second bus at Trinoma in Quezon City at 6 a.m.
Flexible time and four-day work week schedules are among the arrangements. A subsidized toll on the North Luzon Expressway is being worked out, Quiambao said. —TONETTE OREJAS
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