Palace exec to Peña: Pay Makati workers via ATM
A Palace official has a suggestion for acting Makati Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. on how to get rid of “ghost” employees at city hall: Distribute their pay through automated teller machines (ATMs).
Budget Secretary and Liberal Party stalwart Florencio “Butch” Abad made the suggestion on Tuesday even as a councilor aligned with the camp of suspended Makati Mayor Junjun Binay accused Peña of harassing and intimidating over 4,000 casual employees at city hall whose contracts have yet to be renewed.
According to Abad, “Not only are electronic payroll systems more efficient—they also help keep local government units (LGUs) clear of ghost employees, since the creation of ATM accounts will require account holders to show sufficient proof of identification.”
Citing a 2012 Commission on Audit (COA) report on Makati City, he pointed out that while most government offices already disburse their employees’ salaries through ATMs under an electronic payroll system, the country’s premiere business district still pays some of its workers manually, with cold cash.
This makes the city the last LGU in Metro Manila that has yet to complete the transition from manual payouts to an ATM payroll system, Abad said.
He noted that the COA report itself cited that “ATMs lower the risk of fund misuse and result in greater convenience, transparency and accountability.”
“We understand that three years later, Makati City still pays around half of its employees in cash instead of through ATMs. While they’ve made progress since then, we urge acting Mayor Romulo ‘Kid’ Peña Jr. to complete the transition to ATM payments,” Abad said.
“The national government has been actively upgrading our financial management systems and pushing for the highest degree of transparency in our practices. We need local governments—especially those that manage sizeable resources like Makati—to stand with us in our drive for good governance,” he added.
His statement seemed to be an indirect swipe at Binay and his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, who also served as Makati mayor for over 20 years.
Meanwhile, Councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy—an ally of Junjun Binay—claimed Tuesday that Peña’s men have been conducting one-on-one interviews with casual city government workers whose contracts expired two weeks ago to ask if they support Binay.
“We have constituents who are casual employees [who said] they were being called one by one. But the people who face them are not from the city’s personnel department but known underlings of Peña,” Uy said on Tuesday.
She added that Peña earlier ordered all departments and offices at city hall to require all their casual employees to present themselves at his office “at an appointed time and venue.”
Earlier, Peña said he was holding off renewing these workers’ contracts pending a physical inventory and performance evaluation aimed at ridding city hall of bogus or ghost employees.
This was among his first acts in office after the younger Binay was suspended for the second time by the Office of the Ombudsman over allegations that the Makati Science High School building was overpriced.
Uy, however, hinted last week that Peña was planning a mass layoff of casual workers. On Tuesday, she called him out over the “harassment and intimidation tactics” being used against these employees.
“Is this even right? They are scaring off our employees,” Uy said.
There were also reports that some of Peña’s allies have been going around different barangays (villages), promising jobs to residents who agree to support him, she claimed.
At the same time, Uy questioned the acting mayor’s authority to delay the renewal of the job contracts as she warned him that the city council would remain vigilant against illegal actions that violate these workers’ rights.
“We urge our casual employees to promptly report to us any act of harassment or intimidation from Peña’s camp so that we can take appropriate action,” she said.
Sought for comment, Peña’s camp denied her allegations, particularly the planned mass layoff of casual workers.
Peña’s media relations officer Patrick Daulat told the Inquirer that there was indeed one-on-one interviews being conducted, although these were aimed at getting rid of ghost employees.
“The acting mayor has no plan to lay off employees at city hall,” Daulat said.
In an earlier interview, Peña assured those working for the city government that they would keep their jobs as long as “they [were] physically present and report for work.”–With Krixia Subingsubing, trainee