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6,000 permanent ARMM employees will be retrenched due to BBL, group says

/ 01:41 PM July 17, 2018

Roughly 6,000 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) permanent employees will be laid off due to a provision under the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a workers’ group leader said on Tuesday.

Under the bicameral conference committee’s draft of the BBL, currently renamed as the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro in the ARMM, only ARMM employees in the education, health, and social welfare sectors will be absorbed by the new Bangsamoro government.

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Marites Maguindra, interim head of the ARMM Employees Welfare Group, lamented that the eventual passage of the bill would result in the “displacement of thousands of qualified, permanent employees, unjustly rendering them jobless.”

23,000 workers to retain jobs

Maguindra said 23,000 ARMM employees in the education, health, and social welfare sectors would be absorbed, while 6,000 employees from the infrastructure, economic and governance sector in the executive and legislative branches of the ARMM would be retrenched.

“Now we are here to appeal, na kung ia-absorb nila ‘yung 23,000 why not isama na lang ‘yung natitirang 6,000,” she told reporters in an interview at the sidelines of the bicameral panel deliberations in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.

“We seriously and strongly demand the full and unconditional absorption of ARMM permanent employees to the incoming Bangsamoro in ARMM in accordance with existing laws and Supreme Court decisions that protect the rights and security of tenure of permanent employees of the Philippine government including the present ARMM,” the group said in a separate statement.

Maguindra said these employees, including engineers, have served the ARMM well and have done their jobs amid the existing conflict in Mindanao.

“Aren’t they equally important just like the social workers?” she asked. “They were children of earlier ancestors who fought for the aspirations of the Bangsamoro. They wanted to be part of the history, the narrative of the Moro region as it reaches this point.”

“They still wanted to be absorbed, and let the natural year of the end of their service… Maraming may naka-loan dyan, starting to build on their dreams and all of a sudden ganito lang ang gagawin,” she lamented.

Maguindra noted that out of 6,000 employees, 933 are about to retire, 1,096 are five years below in service, while the rest are middle managers.

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Unfortunate but necessary

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, a co-chair of the joint panel on BBL, said that while the retrenchment is “unfortunate,” they needed to do it “so that we can make that change within the new Bangsamoro government.”

“We’ll do a transition also of the hiring of personnel of the different agencies. Unfortunately, there would be some cleansing in terms of staffing. ARMM regional government, except for social services, health workers, and teachers, all the rest are up for replacement and retrenchment,” Zubiri said.

However, the senator from Mindanao said the retrenched employees would be entitled to a “lucrative compensation package.”

“But we have a very, I’d say, a lucrative retrenchment or compensation package for those who would be retrenched, better than what the civil service rules are as of the moment,” he said.

In an earlier statement, the House of Representatives said that as the ratification of the BBL deems offices of the ARMM abolished, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority would be tasked with scheduling the gradual phasing out of the concerned offices.

Officials holding appointive positions would continue to perform their functions in accordance with the schedule set. The funds for benefits and entitlements of affected employees in the region would be provided by the national government.

But Maguindra said these packages would not be enough as the 6,000 employees are also stakeholders in the Bangsamoro region as much as those working in the basic social services sector.  /vvp

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