Duterte vetoes survivorship benefits bill

Maris Federez   •   April 15, 2019   •   2016

President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed the bill that seeks for survivorship benefits to the children of deceased officials of the Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman who were solo parents.

The enrolled Senate Bill 1917/House Bill 7820 sought to amend the Republic Act 10084 and extend the survivorship benefits to the dependent children of a deceased retired government official who was a solo parent.

RA 10084 only provides benefits to the surviving legitimate spouses of the deceased retired officials of the said constitutional offices.

In his letter to the Senate and the House dated April 12, 2019, the President cited several factors for vetoing the said bill.

The President said that while he supports the importance of passing the enrolled bill that authorizes additional benefits to the dependents of the COA, CSC, COMELEC and the Ombudsman, he is apprehensive that such granting of benefits “beyond the current compensation framework for other government offices may prove to be too onerous to the government.”

He further said that this would erode the national government’s salary standardization and rationalization program.

The President added that “it will create too much disparity and inequality in compensation among public servants”, as the benefits specified in the enrolled bill are extraordinary and are not granted to all officials in the government service.

The enrolled bill was transmitted to the Office of the President on March 14. – Maris Federez

Ombudsman probe won’t affect DOH, COVID-19 task force credibility – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence that the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the alleged irregularities in the Department of Health’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis won’t affect the credibility of the agency and the government task force.

In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that at this point, health officials and other personalities involved in the probe are “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

“Kung mapapansin ninyo naman po ang IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) po talaga, lahat po ng departamento, it’s a whole government approach, it’s not just the DOH although the DOH po has the position of leadership,” Roque said.

The Palace official also relayed that President Rodrigo Duterte believes that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will be able to respond to the allegations being investigated by the Ombudsman.

“Kampante po ang president na masasagot po ni Secretary Duque lahat po ‘yang alegasyon sa Ombudsman,” he said.

He added that the president “has time and again expressed his continuing trust and confidence” in Duque whose leadership at the health agency has been beset by controversies.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier said it will launch an investigation into the supposed irregularities in the DOH’s response against COVID-19.

The probe would cover the purchase of coronavirus disease test kits, delayed procurement of personal protective equipment and other supplies for healthcare workers and the rising number of fatalities among medical workers amid the public health crisis, as well as the delay in the release of financial assistance to healthcare workers who have fallen severely ill and died due to coronavirus disease.

Duque earlier said he is ready to face the Ombudsman probe. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

4-day work week, staggered working hours among options for gov’t employees under ‘new normal’

Marje Pelayo   •   May 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Government agencies and offices may implement four work arrangements beginning May 16, 2020.

This is based on the revised interim guidelines issued by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

A government employee can return to work under one of the following work arrangements:

  • Work-from-home
  • Skeleton workforce
  • Four-day workweek 
  • Staggered working hours.

Workers below 21-years-old and senior citizens are automatically part of the work-from-home arrangement.

Meanwhile, setting a skeleton workforce limits the number of workers in the office or workplace.

These employees, however, are entitled to hazard and overtime pay including other allowances.

Likewise, a 4-day work week may be advantageous to some while others may opt for shifting schedules which best fit staggered working hours.

These options also include limiting the number of workers in a work area.

Offices must also see to it that vehicles are disinfected.

A health status survey and a revision of workplace layout for the implementation of physical distancing must be done.

It is a must for employees and officials who enter the government office premises to wear face masks, and submit to temperature checks.

Finally, every workplace should make sanitation stations available for use, according to the CSC. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Roxas, De Lima on GCTA controversy: Why blame the IRR?

UNTV News   •   September 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas and detained Senator Leila de Lima have broken their silence amid reports linking them to the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

Roxas and De Lima were among those who drafted the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

The Office of the Ombudsman has requested Roxas and De Lima to explain why the provisions concerning convicts of heinous crimes in relation to the GCTA privilege was not clarified in the IRR.

But the former Interior chief maintained that the IRR shouldn’t be blamed just because the law wasn’t properly implemented.

In a tweet, Roxas stressed that those who approved the convicts’ release order should face the questioning, not those who drafted the IRR.

He accused his critics of passing the buck because of the controversial law.

Nevertheless, Roxas vowed to appear and cooperate in the Ombudsman’s probe.

“Apparently iimbestigahan ng Ombudsman itong (The Ombudsman will probe this) GCTA issue. Well and good, at masasagot ko kung ano man ang mga tanong nila (I will have the chance to answer their questions),” Roxas tweeted.

Meanwhile, De Lima expressed doubts over the intention behind the linking of her name to the GCTA issue when she has nothing to do with the controversy.

“I find this development highly irregular,” the lady senator said in a statement.

De Lima emphasized that the focus of the probe should be on whether or not the officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) followed the rules and reviewed the cases using the proper guidelines of releasing a convict under GCTA.

Roxas and De Lima were given three days to respond to the request of the Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman has launched a fact-finding investigation to determine the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the GCTA law. — MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

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