Nueva Vizcaya provincial gov’t can’t pay in full back wages
The provincial government cannot pay in full the back salaries and other benefits of about 70 returning employees who the Civil Service Commission (CSC) earlier ordered reinstated, officials here said.
In a meeting on Tuesday, lawyer Voltaire Garcia, provincial legal officer, told the employees that the province had no sufficient funds to cover about P33.3 million in back wages and other benefits.
“We have already complied with the first part of the [CSC order], which is reinstatement. As for the second part, which is the payment of back wages, we will still try to find the possible sources [of funds],” he said.
The controversy arose from an executive order issued by Gov. Ruth Padilla in July 2013, which revoked about 180 promotions and new appointments of provincial employees and forced them out of their jobs.
In September 2014, however, the CSC, affirming the ruling of its regional office, declared invalid Padilla’s order and directed the governor to return the employees she dismissed and to pay them their back salaries.
Facing indirect contempt charges for her supposed failure to comply with the CSC order, Padilla, on May 14, issued a return to work order but did not mention anything about the payment of back wages.
But Garcia, speaking before the assembly of employees on Tuesday, said the provincial government was doing its best to fully comply with the CSC order.
However, the province cannot pay the employees’ salaries and benefits in full, covering a period of 20 months, but only from January to April of this year, Garcia said. He failed to give a timetable within which full settlement would be made.
“We can settle the payment of their salaries for this year because that is already covered by the 2015 appropriation ordinance. What we still need to remedy are the back salaries for 2013 and 2014 because there is no appropriation for these,” he said.
Alejandra Dacumos, provincial budget officer, said the provincial government has no funds to cover the amount needed, which would serve as basis for its local finance committee (LFC) to recommend to the provincial board the enactment of a supplemental budget ordinance.
“Unfortunately, at the moment, we do not have the money. The LFC will still meet next week and try to study whether funds are available, and from where we can source this obligation of the provincial government,” she said.
Maria Carla Lucia Torralba, provincial human resource officer, said the employees must also be reinstated to the position they originally held before their ouster, and not to be detailed to another office.
Since their return, the employees have been made to handle functions that are not part of their job, some of them have complained.
“The order is very clear: Reinstatement to the position, which should not mean reinstatement only as to the office, but to all the duties and functions that they originally held,” she said.
On Tuesday, Garcia and other officials also met with another set of employees—those whose promotions and appointments were also revoked but did question the CSC order—to inform them that they would not benefit from the ruling of the commission.
They advised the workers, many of whom agreed to waive their promotions and others to reenter as casuals, to refile their applications.#
As published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 4, 2015: