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April 23, 2015

Government urged: Fill 190,000 vacant positions

MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen yesterday urged the government to fill nearly 190,000 vacant positions in the entire bureaucracy.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll said filling these jobs would reduce the number of jobless college graduates in the country.
He said as far as he knew, the House of Representatives and the Senate had included funds for hiring personnel in the P2.6-trillion 2015 national budget.
“So the funds are there. There is no reason why state agencies cannot hire the personnel they need, unless there are no qualified applicants, which I do not believe,” he added.
He noted that if the appropriated funds were not used, these would become savings of the executive department.
Reached for comment, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, appropriations committee chairman, confirmed that this year’s budget includes funds for vacant positions.
“They are included in the lump sum called Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund, which amounts to P117.4 billion,” he said.
Once agencies have qualified applicants, they can request the release of the necessary funds from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Based on budget documents submitted to the appropriations, the bureaucracy has 188,255 job vacancies. Albano said there are a total of 1,433,186 permanent and budgeted positions, of which 1,244,931 are filled.
He said critical frontline agencies have the most number of vacancies with the Department of Education having the largest: 59,464 out of 702,916 permanent positions.
The Department of Health has 11,166 vacancies, Department of Agrarian Reform, 6,096; Department of Agriculture, 3,659; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 8,893; Bureau of Internal Revenue, 3,756; Bureau of Customs, 2,767; and Department of Transportation and Communications, 1,272.
The Philippine National Police has 164,410 permanent positions for uniformed personnel. Of that number, 15,592 are vacant.
The Supreme Court and lower courts have 7,201 vacancies out of 32,448 positions, while the Commission on Audit has 14,102 permanent positions, out of which 7,731 are filled.
Rep. Arnel Ty of party-list group Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association said it is “shameful” that tens of thousands of positions in the bureaucracy remain amid the high unemployment rate, especially among college graduates and young professionals.
“We reckon many of these vacant items are for public elementary and high school teachers. Yet, we have tens of thousands of licensed teachers who are totally jobless,” he said.
“In fact, some of these registered teachers have become so desperate that they’ve been driven to work in private schools for as low as P7,000 a month,” he added.
Unlike executive agencies, the judiciary and independent constitutional bodies receive their funds for vacancies. The money becomes savings if not used and could be spent for other purposes like additional incentives.
Ty suggested that the DBM, Department of Labor and Employment, Civil Service Commission and state agencies work together to remove obstacles in the filling of vacancies.
He said he is worried that the money meant for the unoccupied positions could end up getting “DAPped,” referring to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, the funds for which came from state agencies that failed to spend their appropriations, and which Malacañang diverted to other projects, including those proposed by senators and congressmen.
 “The government, which is the country’s biggest employer, must take the initiative in reducing unemployment,” Albano stressed.
 
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