CAAP suspends benefits of casual workers
- Rainier Allan Ronda () - May 7, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will suspend the wage and non-wage benefits of casual employees after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) declared that “casual positions are not authorized” in the CAAP.

In an April 24 memorandum, CAAP director general Ramon Gutierrez, announced the suspension of the benefits of casual employees effective May 1.

He said the DBM disallowed the appropriations for personnel services of the agency in the 2011 Corporate Operating Budget or COB after the payment for casual employees reached P5.96 billion.

Among the benefits suspended are the personal economic relief allowance of P2,000 a month for each casual employee; mandatory government contributions to the Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and the Home Mutual Development Corp. known as Pag-IBIG Fund; eligibility for bonus and cash gift for 2012; leave and other wage and non-wage benefits.

The current casual employees of the CAAP are “holdovers” from the agency’s predecessor, the Air Transportation Office (ATO), which was previously unable to fund permanent plantilla positions for these personnel due to the then meager budget of the agency.

The DBM had scrapped the appropriation of P141,756,000 for wages of casual employees, P27,168,000 for occupational specialty pay, and P100 million for terminal leave or retirement gratuity in the 2011 COB.

The ATO was transformed into the CAAP by Republic Act 9497, the law that created the CAAP, whose enactment was rushed by Congress in 2009 in the aftermath of the Philippine civil aviation system’s downgrade from Category 1 to Category 2 by the US Federal Aviation Authority, and the significant safety concerns raised by the International Civil Aviation Organization on the country’s civil aviation systems.

The main feature of the CAAP was it was turned into a government-owned or controlled corporation (GOCC), which unlike the ATO had fiscal autonomy and was allowed to keep the maximum amount allowable of their annual revenues for their operational expenses.

With the financial resources given to it as a GOCC, the CAAP was expected to lay out adequate funds to properly compensate its “mission-critical” employees such as air traffic controllers and other highly technical staff.

Officials’ failure

Cesar Lucero, CAAP Employees Union vice president, said Gutierrez and the CAAP top management should be questioned for the agency’s failure to turn the casual employees into permanent employees with plantilla positions.

Lucero said this would be easily accomplished if the CAAP will submit a permanent staff plantilla plan for approval by the DBM and the Civil Service Commission. The plan would lay down the approved compensation as well as the qualifications for each plantilla position in the agency.

However, Lucero said the submission of such a plan would reportedly throw many of Gutierrez’s fellow retired military officers and “mistahs” in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) out of staff positions where they were appointed by the CAAP chief because they do not have the required qualifications.

“That’s precisely the reason why we are calling on the President to appoint a non-retired military officer and graduate of the PMA as CAAP director general,” Lucero lamented. “What is happening is they are turning the CAAP into a retired military officers’ club especially for those who can’t get themselves into jobs in the private sector.”

Lucero is currently on a 90-day preventive suspension issued by the CAAP management for allegedly talking on matters touching on “national security” when he filed complaints on anomalies in the agency.

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