Thursday, July 26, 2012

Report of the Staff Regent

1281st Meeting of the Board of Regents
July 26, 2012


Wage Fight
Attended a series of meetings and propaganda actions calling for at least P6,000  salary increase of government personnel, and  the formation of  multi-sectoral alliance called Wage Fight, composed primarily of public sector unions  The said multisectoral alliance is spearheaded by COURAGE, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Alliance of Health Workers and the All UP Workers Union. In pursuance of said campaign, Wage Fight is calling for the enactment into law of HB 3746, HB 5149 and SB 2928 – An Act Providing for a P6,000 Increase in Minimum Pay of Employees and Workers in the Public Sector Nationwide and for other Purposes.

Network Opposed to Privatization of Public Hospitals and Health Services
Attended a series of meetings, conferences and propaganda actions in the relaunching of a nationwide alliance called Network Opposed to Privatization of Public Hospitals and Health Services. The alliance is spearheaded by cause-oriented groups, public hospital based unions and professional groups, such as the Alliance of Health Workers, Health Alliance for Democracy, Philippine Nurses Association, Community Foundation, Council for Health and Development, All UP Workers Union Manila, etc. This is a response of the various health groups to anti-worker and anti-people policy of the Aquino Administration to privatize public hospitals and the delivery of health services. Primarily the group calls for the government to increase public spending in health care and oppose the enactment into law of HB 6069, HB 6145 and SB 3130 – An Act Converting the 26 Government Hospitals into National Government Hospital Corporation (or the National Government Hospital Corporate Restructuring Act).

Campaign for the Release of Benefits under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers and for its Inclusion in the Regular Budget Allocation of the National Government and LGUs
Attended various dialogues with DBM and DOH officials, meetings, conferences and protest actions to dramatize the continuing campaign of  public health workers for the release of their (our) benefits under RA 7304 – Magna Carta of Public Health Workers which have been on hold since January of this year, because the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) remained adamant in approving the requests of the Department of Health (DOH) and its attached agencies and hospitals for the use of savings for payment of Magna Carta benefits (as required under the 2012 GAA) such as hazard pay, augmentation to subsistence and laundry allowances, etc; stating among others that savings can be only realized at the end of the year, and that there is a need to review and rationalize the implementation of said benefits especially the Hazard Pay. This non-payment of benefits amounted to P3,000-P9,000 decrease in monthly take home pay for each public health workers under the DOH. The benefits under the Magna Carta Public Health Workers is provided for by law (RA 7305), but the DBM refuses to allocate annual funding for it and did not include in the preparation of the annual National Expenditure Program submitted to Congress (enacted as the Annual General Appropriations Act), except for PGH which has a separate line item of P116 million (although actual expenditure exceeds P150 million annually). Without a regular allocation, the payment of Magna Carta benefits are derived from savings but are still given regularly starting in most agencies in year 2000.  However, it was withheld starting January of this year due to a provision in the GAA for 2012 that requires DBM approval prior to use of agency savings.

Sectoral Consultation
Visited UP Los Banos on July 12-13, 2012, together with some national officers of the All UP Workers Union for consultation  and updates and confers directly with some staff and REPS of various units such as the Institute of Biotechnology, Institute of Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture and UP Police.
Raised issues:
·        Regularization of farm workers  
·        Inclusion of contractual/casual services in the computation of the annual 10 day Service Recognition Pay
·        Payment of Hazard Pay
·        Career path for REPS

Pertinent Meetings/Conferences Attended

UP President’s Dialogue with the All UP Workers Union on UP-PGH Class D Rates
Attended the President’s dialogue on June 27, with the All UP Workers Union on UP-PGH Class D Rates, together with some officials of UP Manila and PGH. This is in accordance to the decision of the Board of Regents 1280th meeting (June 4, 2012). Upon my request for clarification on the Board’s decision, President Pascual admitted that the PGH proposal would indeed result to imposition of additional charges/fees to Class D (Indigent) patients and not merely a “quantification of services” as the the Board was told by PGH Director Gonzales last meeting , he however clarified that it maybe waived by responsible PGH officials for patients that can not really pay.  The union and myself is continuing our appeal not to impose additional charges to indigent patients. Another meeting was scheduled for finalization of issues.

Meeting of the National Management – Health Workers Consultative Council (NMHWCC)[1]
Attended the meeting of the NMHWCC as the National President of the Alliance of Health Workers on June 29, 2012 at the DOH Central Office to tackle various appeals in the classification as Public Health Workers and made an initial comment on the proposed Joint DBM-DOH Circular on Guidelines on the Grant of Compensation Related Magna Carta Benefits to Public Health Workers under RA 7305. Agreed for a live-in meeting to finalize the Council’s position on the draft Joint Circular.

Consultative Meeting on the draft Joint Circular of the DBM/DOH on Compensation Grant of Compensation Related Magna Carta Benefits to Public Health Workers under RA 7305 and other matters
Attended a two-day live-in consultative meeting of the NMHWCC on July 4-5, 2012 at Cuidad Christia Resort,  San Mateo, Rizal to finalize the Council’s position in the draft Joint DBM/DOH Circular. The Council agreed that the circular should not result to diminution of any benefits, implemented or not under the Magna Carta, and proposed for upgrading of all benefits in accordance with the current cost of living.
Any changes in these benefits (rates, entitlements, etc) have implications to employees of PGH, UP Manila and all Health Service Units in all UP constituent units who are all receiving addtional benefits under RA 7305.

Joint DBM/DOH Meeting on Magna Carta Benefits
Attended the joint meeting of DBM Secretary Abad and DOH Secretary Ona and other officials of said agencies to thresh out the issues involving the release of Magna Carta benefits that have been pending for most of the public health workers under the national government since January of this year and a review of entitlement to compensation related Magna Carta benefits. Reiterated that  at all hospital workers and all incumbents in office based agencies should continue to be entitled to regular payment of hazard pay. The meeting ended with both Secretary Abad and Secretary Ona agreeing on imposing a 10 day time line to resolve the issues surrounding the Magna Carta benefits and to came up with a policy decision that will be approved by President Aquino including the inclusion of a separate line item for the proposed 2013 national budget. Until this time however, this is no authority yet to release the Magna Carta benefits.

Conference Against the Privatization of Public Hospitals and Health Services
Attended the  Conference Against the Privatization of Public Hospitals and Health Services on July 18, 2012 held at the Social Hall, UP Manila. This serve as the formal launching of the Network Opposed to Privatization of Public Hospital and Health Services (NOP). The conference was attended by about 250 leaders of public hospital based unions, professional organizations, health based cause-oriented groups, academics and patient and community organizations uniting to conduct a nationwide public awareness building activities and mass actions against the ill effects of privatization of public hospitals and against the enactment of HB 6069, HB 6145 and SB 3130.


Staff Regent

[1] The National Management Health Workers Consultative Council (NMHWCC) is a body created under RA 7305 – Magna Carta of Public Health Workers tasked to implement and monitor the implementation of the Magna Carta but since imasculated by Joint Resolution No. 4 s. 2009 of Congress transfering the implementation of compensation related benefits to the Department of Budget and Management.

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