Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday said the government should not only extend employment of contractual workers in the government but also ensure their security of tenure.
Villanueva made the statement after the announcement of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that it recently amended joint Circular No.1, series of 2017, together with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Commission on Audit (COA).
Under Joint Circular 1 s. 2017, government agencies are now allowed to get new contract of service (COS) and job order (JO) workers and to renew existing contracts until December 31, 2020.
Furthermore, existing qualified COS and JO workers shall be considered for appointment to vacant positions of government agencies subject to existing civil service laws, rules, and regulations and CSC-approved merit selection plans.
Villanueva, however, lamented that despite the extension granted by the amendment of the Joint Circular, the government agencies must still uphold their commitment to regularize their contractual and temporary workers which they expressed during the budget hearings conducted in the Senate.
“During our participation in the Senate budget hearings with the agencies, majority of them expressed readiness to abide by the original date of regularization mandated by the Joint Circular. Despite this extension, we urge them to undertake the necessary fiscal and organizational measures to regularize these workers as soon as possible,” said Villanueva, chairperson of Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development.
"We can do more than just give two-year job extension to contractual workers in the government. Let us institutionalize the right to security of tenure of all casual and contractual employees of the government who have long been serving in the public sector," the senator stressed.
Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 1164 which aims to provide permanent positions to government workers who have long been serving as contractual workers in the public sector.
Under the bill, all incumbent casual and contractual government employees who have rendered at least three years of continuous service in the national government and five years of continuous service in the case of local government units shall be given permanent appointment.
Villanueva further cited the 2017 data from the CSC which showed that 660,390 or 27 percent out of 2.4 million government workers were COS or JO workers. In 2016, there were over 595,000 contractuals in the public sector.
"Let us attract the best and the brightest workers in the government by giving the peace of mind they deserve in recognition of their contribution to our society be it local or national level public service," Villanueva said.
“How can we expect the private sector to follow suit if the government itself implements labor contractualization?” the senator added.
The Senate is currently deliberating in the plenary Senate Bill No. 1826 or the proposed Security of Tenure Act which has been certified as a priority measure by the President.