Senators scold DSWD chief for ‘job quality’ at welfare agency
MANILA, Philippines — Over 90 percent of the more than 37,000 personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have remained contractual employees, a dire situation that senators wanted Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian to immediately fix.
Presiding over the Senate budget hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Imee Marcos said the DSWD should take the lead in protecting its workers as the primary state agency mandated with providing social protection for Filipinos.
“We’re just perpetuating this injustice. How did this happen?” said Marcos, noting that the department also lacked the sufficient number of trained social workers.
Sen. Raffy Tulfo said he was informed that many DSWD employees were being hired on a contractual basis annually, including those who had already been with the department for more than 15 years.
Aside from being deprived of the security of tenure, he said these government workers had not been enjoying the benefits given to regular employees of other state agencies.
‘Change this setup’
“Maybe you can help change this setup in the DSWD. Have pity on those who have been working hard but could not get a regular position,” Tulfo told Gatchalian.
In response, Gatchalian said they were aware of the problem and that they had consistently asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to allow them to create plantilla items for regular workers.
“Unfortunately, we have not been given the sufficient positions for regular employees because of the DBM’s tight fiscal space,” the DSWD secretary said.
When told by Tulfo that he was willing to intercede on behalf of the DSWD, Gatchalian said: “We would gladly welcome that move. If you could help us, that’s much [appreciated].”
Sen. Christopher Go pointed out that while less than 10 percent of its workforce were regular workers, the DSWD has several senior officials, including nine undersecretaries and 20 assistant secretaries.
Acknowledging this, Gatchalian told Go that the DSWD had actually started “rightsizing and streamlining our operations.”
“That’s why we took the initiative of making all our assistant secretaries file their courtesy resignations,” Gatchalian said.
“We are in the process of reviewing [their posts] one by one to make sure that we have the right amount [of senior officials] and right job positions,” he added.
Go also questioned the propriety of assigning contractual workers to lead the distribution of monthly cash aid for poor families under the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.