DAR officials, employees reach ‘agreement’ on 4-yr row

MANILA– Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) officials and employees have reached an agreement that would end their four-year row over the plight of 10,000 department employees nationwide who were displaced under the government’s rationalization scheme.

“Lahat kami masaya (We are all happy with the result of the meeting),” president of the DAR Employees Association (DAREA), Nanette Pascual, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an exclusive interview Thursday.

Pascual said it was a triumph on their part because after four years of “sufferings and low morale at the DAR”, displaced employees will now have a chance to apply for 2,100 vacant jobs.

“There would be promotions that have long eluded the employees,” she said. “That would put to rest the injustice caused by the delay in the rationalization (plan).”

DAR was among the departments and their attached agencies affected by Executive Order 366 or the government’s rationalization scheme. Under EO 366, functions, programs and projects of government offices were scaled down, phased out or abolished as part of cost-cutting measures during the Gloria M. Arroyo administration.

The order mandated the departments to remove employees who were holding redundant positions, giving them the option to either retire or work with the department on a co-terminus basis, said Pascual.

Under the EO, those who opt to stay could be placed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in other agencies where additional personnel are required. However, those who fail to find proper placement after a year, are bound to lose their jobs, she explained.

Pascual noted that the EO affected employees who were occupying permanent positions, ranging from clerical jobs to technical and non-technical posts, and some of them became contractual workers or were placed under job order status.

When Rafael Mariano was appointed as agrarian reform secretary on June 30, 2016, he formed the National Placement Committee (NPC) to look into the matter. The committee consists of several ranking department officials and a representative of the DAR labor union.

During DAREA’s closed-door meeting with the NPC on Thursday, the latter agreed to grant the union’s demand to recommend the creation of positions equivalent to the previous jobs of the affected employees.

Pascual said the NPC will recommend to the DAR secretary those employees who deserve to occupy the vacant positions. The DAR chief in turn will issue a certification of completion of placement for each of these employees, to be forwarded to the CSC.

The affected employees, she said, will go through the regular hiring process, which this time includes selection based on their qualifications, educational attainment, skills and experiences, to give them an opportunity to be hired for permanent positions.

Most importantly, promotions would now be possible, she added.

“We are happy because we have Ka Paeng as our ama (father). Then, there are the NPC members,” Pascual said. MA. LUISA GARCIA/PNA – northboundasia.com