MANILA, Philippines?Around 1,000 cooks, waiters and housekeeping staff that served President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her guests in Malacañang for years are in danger of losing their jobs under the new dispensation.
Their impending replacement has emerged as a sub-plot to the 4,500 vacancies in the bureaucracy that have to be filled by the incoming administration of President-elect Benigno Aquino III.
"We discussed the glitches in the transition, like for example, they might not be able to immediately appoint the 4,500 vacancies. And this does not include the household staff,'' Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said.
All these vacancies were taken up in a meeting on the transition to the new president between Mendoza and prospective Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa at the Presidential Security Group's Bahay Pangarap last Friday.
The cooks, waiters and housekeeping staff are casual employees whose terms are co-terminous with Ms Arroyo, who steps down June 30. Some are carry-overs from previous administrations.
Mendoza hinted that the new administration looked set to replace the household staff ?- those who quietly worked behind the scenes to whip up and serve food for Ms Arroyo and her guests, and keep her official residence spic and span.
"If there are no replacements, they may be retained in a holdover arrangement,'' he told reporters after Ms Arroyo hosted the Independence Day reception for foreign diplomats in Malacañang.
While Ms Arroyo retained them when she took over from deposed President Joseph Estrada in January 2001, it is the call of the next administration whether to keep them, according to Mendoza.
"Actually in our regime, we didn't replace anyone. They're still the same,'' he said. "Like in my office, there are some who had served in Marcos time and are still there.''
If they're shown the door, the problem facing the incoming administration will be: how soon can they recruit replacements to serve in functions from the June 30 turnover and onwards?
"Everybody is apprehensive. There will be functions, and who will attend to the these functions? I understand that the Aquino team is attending to that, but of course recruiting that many people won't be that easy,'' he said.
Malacañang had earlier said that the next administration would have to fill some 4,500 co-terminous positions in the bureaucracy, including those of Cabinet secretaries, and officials in government-owned and controlled corporations, and in agencies attached to the Office of the President.
Ms Arroyo has organized a team to brief the incoming administration about the workings of the bureaucracy as well as the state of asssets and resources to clear the way for a "seamless transition.''
Mendoza said that a joint Cabinet meeting, possibly presided over by Ms Arroyo and Aquino, would push through.
"That will push through. They're coming up with prospective Cabinet members,'' he said.