By Pet Melliza/The Beekeeper
A radio commentator queries: if Iloilo Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. can afford to allot P35,000 in “productivity enhancement incentive” (PEI) on top of Christmas bonus and 13th month pay to each capitol employee, how much will Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog give?
The anchorman chuckled after raising that question. The city can give only P3,000 to each employee because it has no savings at all due to its oversized army of casuals and job hires, he declares.
That’s an overstatement though. Iloilo City is set to break records, mostly its own. As elections 2013 looms nigh, it will be bloating its ranks by 7,000 more, an insider says.
So far, we have only “guestimate” of its present work force: at least 2,000 regulars and casuals/job hires of around 7,000 to 10,000.
The number of regulars, 2,000 appears to be questionable already. Iloilo Province has about the same figure of regular employees but that is justifiable by the fact that Capitol runs 12 hospitals which comprise more than half of its work force and budget.
Aside from its hospitals, Iloilo Province further deploys nurses, midwives and dentists to the towns which lack the funds to employ theirs.
On top from 12 hospitals, Iloilo Province has another major department, the Office of Provincial Engineer that maintains provincial roads (and also municipal and barangays) of its 42 constituent towns and one component city).
Almost all roads of Iloilo City today have been reclassified “national roads”, thus, no longer under the care of the city engineer’s office, but by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Iloilo Province can justify its big work force because it further has the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) that serves 42 towns and one component city. And it further details farm technicians to the towns. The office further promotes fishery production and manages the Provincial Bantay Dagat program.
The province still has a jail to maintain with average 800 inmates to guard and feed; the city has none.
With practically no hospital, no major road to maintain now, and no farming nor fishing venture to promote, Iloilo City can trim its work force by half of the province but all that we see is the opposite.
Its existing 7,000 – 10,000 casuals/job hires are just too much. Add 7,000 more as contemplated by its top apparatchiks, Iloilo City taxpayers will have 17,000 persons to pay to perform jobs only the appointing officer, Mayor Mabilog, knows.
Job hires or persons hired to accomplish programs or projects, supposedly for a given period, are exempted from the “personal cap” as required by the Local Government Code that restricts disbursements for employees’ salaries and benefits within 45% ceiling of total expenditures.
They are exempted because salaries of “job hires” are not considered “salaries” but “projects” or part of capital outlays and office equipment maintenance.
Our hero Mayor Mabilog has created countless “projects” (not offices) especially “task forces” which he stacks with job hires – task force anti-jaywalking, task force anti-littering, anti-smoking task force, and what-have-you. Not even the Holy Spirit can keep tab of these task forces.
Iloilo City even has an anti-illegal fishing task force and further boasts of a unique one for “moral recovery”.
The latter does everything especially rounding up prostituted women and fining them for acting “immorally” without pink cards (forgetting that their victims are forced to sell their bodies to feed their families).
That’s an act of a genius – stacking city hall with casuals and job hires. It’s good politics. People who contrive of that strategy have assured the incumbent captive votes of at least 17,000.
Theoretically, that’s times five or 85,000 votes in all as each job hire is presumed to bring along with her/him four additional votes.
We don’t know though it will work this time, or in May 2013. City hall casuals and job hires, their bloated figure, that is, are not translated into better services. So far, we can only hear the groans of regular employees who gnash their teeth seeing their counterparts at Iloilo Capitol receiving higher bonuses this Yuletide.
At best, the bloated figure of job hires are seen as “ghost employees” whose salaries and benefits go to the wrong hands at the expense of taxpayers and regular employees.
We don’t see it as help for the poor but official thievery.