Senator Joel Villanueva questioned on Tuesday Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on the many unfilled positions under his department as well as the reasons behind the low obligation rate of the agency.
“We learned that a substantial number of personnel hired by the DoTr are still contracts of service or consultancies. We learned from them that there have been little to no additional allocation of permanent positions, even during the current administration of the Department. Bakit po ba napakaraming permanent positions ang hindi napupuno sa DoTr?” Villanueva asked.
The DOTr is authorized to employ 25,274 persons but the Transportation department only filled 16,573 positions, only 8,514 of which are permanent employees.
In response, Tugade said that they find it hard to fill the permanent positions not because of the lack of competencies but due to the low salary grade being offered to applicants.
“As the Chairperson of the Committee on Labor, there has been a consistent clamor for parity between the private sector and the public sector. In the same way that there is a call to ensure the security of tenure of our workers in the private sector through amending the Labor Code, the demand that we also heighten the opportunities for permanent employment in the government and civil service has also been consistent,” Villanueva said.
The Department said it hopes to resolve the issue through their ongoing Rationalization and Reorganization Program that includes sustainable capacity-building and training, coordination with the Department of Budget Management to adjust the salary grades of offered positions to make them competitive, and coordination with the Civil Service Commission to streamline the requirements for permanent positions.
Meanwhile, Villanueva also questioned the DOTr’s low utilization rate.
During the budget hearing, the DOTr admitted its low obligation rate of 28%.
“When we supported TRAIN, lahat po kami we are expecting maraming projects, maraming programs ang government lalung-lao na yung Build, Build, Build. Mataas po ang expectation natin. But when we look at the utilization of the different budgets of different departments and agencies, nakakasama po ng loob pag mababa yung implementation,” Villanueva lamented.
“Given the problems of our air transport and land transportation systems, this low obligation rate is truly a pressing matter. Could you explain to this Committee what were the factors that led to such a low rate of obligation?” the senator further asked.
Secretary Tugade explained that this is due to the reason that procurement and bidding of awards happen during 3rd and 4th quarter of the year. The Secretary denied that this has anything to do with the Department’s absorptive capacity.
Apart from the issues raised by the senator, Villanueva also reiterated his call for the DOTr to immediately remove the abandoned posts in Malolos, Bulacan which have been an eye sore for a long time due to stalled Northrail project. He also requested a specific timeline and update as to the completion of their removal.