SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — In compliance with national government directive, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will outsource the services rendered by a significant chunk of its Contract of Service (COS) personnel starting February 2019.
According to lawyer Ramon Agregado, SBMA senior deputy administrator for support services, a total of 307 personnel maintained by the agency under COS scheme will be absorbed by outsourcing companies that will provide janitorial, ground maintenance, building security and housing security services to the SBMA.
Agregado announced this on Dec. 28 during a general assembly at the SBMA Gym wherein agency officials discussed outsourcing and position reclassifi cation procedures with concerned personnel. This was after the affected personnel were first notified in writing in April 2018.
The affected workers, he said, are security, janitorial, and ground maintenance personnel whose positions have been recommended for outsourcing by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as early as September 2013.
“This is a requirement of the government—of the DBM. We are simply complying with the requirement,” Agregado explained. “Please bear in mind that we are doing our best in order for you to keep your jobs.”
At the same time, Agregado said the SBMA would retain a total of 655 COS workers until June 2019, but possibly until December 31, 2020, the new deadline set under a joint circular from DBM, Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Commission on Audit (COA).
He said the SBMA hopes to hire the remaining qualified personnel for plantilla positions once the agency’s proposed restructuring plan gets approved by the DBM.
In the meantime, the SBMA has begun reclassifying COS positions and salary grades so that these workers may eventually fit into the new organizational structure, assuming they obtain the requisite eligibility, Agregado added.
The outsourcing and position reclassification procedures, SBMA officials said, actually serve as safety nets to avert financial ruin for workers affected by the order to end contractualization in government service.
SBMA deputy administrator for administration Ruel John Kabigting noted that the SBMA had previously been called out at the House of Representatives for employing some of the most number of COS workers among government agencies.
He added that other free ports like Clark and Bataan had since outsourced their personnel accordingly.
Kabigting recalled that under Joint Circular No. 1 issued on June 15, 2017 by the CSC, COA and DBM, government agencies were allowed to renew contracts of service or job orders only until Dec. 31, 2018.
He said that while another joint circular dated Nov. 9, 2018 extended the deadline for compliance to Dec. 31, 2020, the DBM had directed the SBMA in a September 2013 memorandum to refrain from hiring personnel under contract of service and instead fill up its regular plantilla positions “to have semblance of continuity in service.”
He added that in 2015, the Office of the President likewise required the SBMA to reduce its manpower complement from contract of service to 3% per annum.
Finally, in October 2016, the DBM directed the SBMA that “as a matter of policy, the janitorial and security services shall be outsourced, subject to existing budgeting, accounting, auditing and other applicable laws, rules and regulations,” Kabigting said.
From there, the outsourcing scheme was approved by the SBMA Board of Directors on April 12, 2018 and underwent the processes of notification, bidding and endorsement until the contract was awarded to winning service providers early this month.
According to the SBMA human resources management department (HRMD), the outsourcing scheme will provide job security in the private sector to the affected workers, as well as holiday pay, 13th month pay, overtime pay, and benefits from Social Security System, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth that they don’t otherwise enjoy as COS workers of the government.