DOTr employees file complaint vs Tugade over Clark transfer

Rambo Talabong
DOTr employees file complaint vs Tugade over Clark transfer
The DOTr Employees Association accuses Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade of failing to conduct a public bidding for the new office and neglecting to attend to the needs of the affected workers

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Transportation employees have filed a complaint against Secretary Arthur Tugade, Undersecretary Garry de Guzman, and the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) over the transfer of the DOTr headquarters to Pampanga.

The employees asked the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court to suspend the Clark transfer, and to issue a writ of prohibition.

“Respondents gravely abused their discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ordering the transfer of the DOTr-Central Office to Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga,” read their complaint which was obtained by Rappler.

The first batch of transferees from Columbia Tower in Mandaluyong moved in July, while the second batch is set to move in October, and the third in November.

Members of the DOTr Employees Association (DOTCEA) accused their officials of failing to call for a public bidding in transferring to their new office in Clark Freeport in Panpanga which, they said, violated Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Reform Procurement Act.

Under Article XVI of RA 9184, “Procuring entities should adopt competitive bidding as the general method of procurement and shall see to it that the procurement program allows sufficient lead time for such competitive bidding.”

The employees also accused Tugade and De Guzman of “practically award[ing] the contract for the lease by CDC” without procurement, and that there was no Multi-Year Obligational Authority (MYOA), which is required in projects that span years such as the new DOTr lease.

According to the workers, De Guzman issued a certification dated July 25, 2017, admitting that “no procurement has been commenced pertaining to the lease of DOTr-Central Office in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, as of the date of the request for MYOA.”

“The absence of the MYOA for the rental of office space in Clark…renders the whole transaction illegal,” the employees argued in their appeal.

Even after he issued the memo admitting the absence of the MYOA, De Guzman issued the memorandum ordering the start of the transfer to Clark.

Lack of care for employees?

On top of the supposed irregularities, the employees accused their bosses of “abuse of discretion” in acting “without regard to the welfare of the employees.” (READ: IN PHOTOS: New DOTr headquarters in Clark remains unfinished)

DOTCEA said that based on multiple surveys it conducted, most workers of the central office reject the transfer.

The employees, mostly Metro Manila residents, highlighted their travel time ranging from  3 to 8 hours.

“Such priceless time lost which an employee may have spent instead for family and him/herself cannot be simply compensated with perks and allowances,” the complaint read.

They were referring to the options and incentives management had given them, including free shuttle to and from the Clark office, the option to have a 4-day workweek, and allowing “flexi-time” to make up for their strenuous commute.

These perks were settled through a grievance committee comprised of DOTCEA representatives who met with Assistant Secretary Leah Quiambao.

The committee only met twice, as the employees did not see any progress from the meetings, DOTCEA said.

Reached for comment, Quiambao said the transfer is “fully compliant with all legal requirements, especially those enshrined in Republic Act 9184.”

“This will be amply shown and proven in court,” she added in a text message.

The first hearing is scheduled on Monday, October 2. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.