DepEd: No mass lay-off under rationalization program

Employees with affected items may opt to either apply for other posts within DepEd or retire from government service with higher-than-usual benefits

10,000? Employees stage a protest in front of the DepEd Central Office because of the rationalization program. Photo from ACT Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Contrary to reports that thousands will lose their jobs, the rationalization program approved by the Department of Education (DepEd) may, on the contrary, even usher in the hiring of new people, officials said.

On Thursday, December 19, DepEd Undersecretary for Regional Operations Rizalino Rivera and Assistant Secretary for Planning Jesus Mateo clarified that the rationalization will affect 9,700 items, not necessarily people. Some of the items are actually vacant.

Wala pong malawakan at sapilitang pagtatanggal ng mga tao sa trabaho sa DepEd (There is no mass and forced resignation of people who work in DepEd),” Rivera said.

The department made public DepEd Order No. 53 on December 3, specifying the step by step process of the rationalization program. It was a program mandated in October 2004 through Executive Order 366, which the DepEd revisited in December 2011 “in light of long-term reforms needed in the education sector notwithstanding fast-changing demands of the local and global environment.” 

The EO prohibited the hiring and rehiring of personnel during plan preparation, which explains the vacant items. But the situation is different on the ground, where more teachers and non-teaching staff are actually needed.

Improve process flows

Rivera said the reorganization is being implemented to improve the delivery of services because the department’s current structure – from the central office down to the schools – is “not a flow.” Mateo said the current structure is based on sector, not function.  

Minsan yung pangangailangan hindi nakokonekta agad sa susunod na level…Of course ‘no, kailangan mag-adjust ng lahat, but ultimately we think it will be good, down to the good of our children,” Rivera said. (Sometimes the needs are not connected immediately to the next level…Of course everyone needs to adjust, but ultimately we think it will be good, down to the good of our children.)

For example, the Bureau of Elementary Education, Bureau of Secondary Education, and the Bureau of Alternative Learning System under the new structure will be reorganized so the process flow will strengthen the services of human resources. 

A more timely example is the plan to strengthen the newly-created Disaster Risk Reduction Office of DepEd so it can respond and focus on the effects of disaster on education. 

“We created a lot of offices, and a lot of positions will be open to applicants,” Rivera said.

The first phase of the program was approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on November 15, covering only the following offices:

  • Central Office
  • Regional Offices
  • Schools Division Offices
  • Casual and Contractual Employees funded under GAA-Personnel Services (with appointment attested by the Civil Service Commission)

“All employees at the school level and DepEd-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao offices are excluded in the DepEd Rationalization Program,” the department’s order said. 

Employees with affected items may opt to either apply for other positions at DepEd or retire from government service with higher-than-usual benefits.

“Kung gusto po nila manatili sa DepEd, [pwedeng] mag-apply sa bagong position sa bagong struktura (If they want to stay in DepEd, they may apply for a new position in the new structure),” Rivera said. 

The co-terminus option

The other option for those who want to remain in government service is to apply for a Co-Terminus with the Incumbent (CTI) status.

He explained what the CTI means. “Di sila mawawalan ng trabaho, pareho pa rin ang sweldo, may benepisyo, hanggang sa panahon na sila mismo ang magdesisyon na magresign sa DepEd o magretire. (They won’t lose their job, they will get the same income, with benefits, until they decide to resign from DepEd or retire).”

The department clarified this option does not mean the employee is co-terminus with the appointing authority nor is it only for a period of one year. 

Napaka-gradual na pagbabago. So kung 40 years old ako ngayon at nag-opt ako ng CTI, ‘yung item na yun, sa akin hanggang magretire ako. I keep that item (The change is very gradual. If I’m 40 years old now and I opt for the CTI, that item is mine until I retire. I keep that item.),” he added. 

Kung na-promote na ako, siyempre ibang item na hawak ko, ‘yung item na hinawakan ko [dati] mawawala na ‘yun (If I’m promoted, I’ll be handling a different item, the item I used to handle will be abolished).”

Meanwhile, those who want to retire from government service will get more benefits than regular retirement or separation. They will receive additional incentives on top of that from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The minimum amount an employee can receive is P50,000.

Affected employees were given up to two months or until Jan 15, 2014, to submit their preferred option.

Regular vs contractual 

The department listed down in a brief the different effects of the program on regular employees holding plantilla items and on casual and contractual employees.

Regular:

  • No one will lose their rank or position level.
  • No one will be forced to retire. It is voluntary.
  • No one will be forced out or retrenched from the organization. 

Casual and contractual: Contracts are extended beyond December 15 with approval from DBM. 

The DepEd order stated casual or contractual items in the agency will be abolished pursuant to the rationalization program.

The services of these employees – 225 nationwide and 47 from the central office, according to Rivera  were supposed to be terminated last December 15, but Education Secretary Armin Luistro instructed Rivera to “take care of our people” and ask for an extension from DBM. 

Rivera said he already explained the program to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) national president Benjie Valbuena when they staged a protest against the reorganization earlier this week, and Valbuena “was surprised that’s how it works.”

Siya mismo nagmungkahi [na] umikot [kami] sa labas, makipag-usap sa mga tao (He himself suggested that we go out and talk to people,” he said, adding he already talked with employees from the division office of Quezon City.

ACT secretary general France Castro in a press release on Wednesday said while they welcome Rivera’s “pronouncement” to seek “DBM’s approval for the cancellation of the implementation of the plan,” scrapping the entire program is the “most humane and just [thing] to do.”

“If ever a rationalization plan is to be implemented, this plan should result into additional regular items for the department and not for its reduction so as to resolve the deficit of personnel in the department especially in the school level. Non-teaching personnel are of crucial role in the education sector. Without them, we, the teachers, cannot deliver our work smoothly and accordingly,” she added.

DepEd set up a helpdesk through e-mail for those who wish to inquire about the program: ratplanhelpdesk@deped.gov.ph. – Rappler.com