Rama and City Hall employees

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

Tears flowed like a river last Monday at Cebu City Hall.

This happened when many casual and job order employees received the information that their employment contracts were not renewed.

Losing one’s job, whatever the cause, is no joke, particularly for breadwinners. In fact, one City Hall employee, Jerry Lauron of Barangay Bacayan reportedly died of a heart attack following receipt of information that he was one of those whose contracts were not to be renewed.

His brother, Cambinocot Barangay Captain Reynald Lauron, said that his brother was affected by the news. He said he would not let such an incident pass, suggesting that his loyalty towards Rama was now affected.

Ordinarily, and most especially in Philippine politics, whenever a new administration comes in, some people must make their exit, primarily because they are identified with the opposite camp. It’s a practice that has become so normal that nobody complains about it. Everybody expects that whether it’s a Rama or an Osmeña who sits at City Hall, there will always be a new set of employees.

But Mayor Michael Rama, an experienced human resources person, and a lawyer, gave the tradition a new turn. Following his recent election and assumption into office as mayor, he announced there would be no new hiring. In fact, contracts with 500 employees were not renewed. He also informed everyone that employees would be evaluated after three months (July, August, and September). There will also be an evaluation on December 2022, determining who will be renewed in January 2023.

Some time ago, Rama had already hinted on who will not be retained; kawatan, hugawan, intregera o intregiro, palaaway, way nahibaw-an, dili mobayad og utang, ug mobuko-buko. A friend jested that if that criteria would be followed, it looks like no one will be rehired.

I believe that hiring competent and honest people is indispensable in achieving efficiency and effectiveness, whether in a private corporation or public office. Sheer political accommodation is destructive in the long term and will not serve the best interest of the public.

It was Rama who gave a group of people the task of evaluating the employees. In fact, he takes full responsibility for the results. What is the evaluation for if, to a large extent, it is just set aside?

Rama has impressed upon us, and rightly so, that we cannot achieve a Singapore-like Cebu City with the kind of government employees we have known.

Gleaned from what he is doing, Rama may be defying conventional wisdom, which says that you have to keep your allies, loyalists, and campaigners, no matter the cost.

He has plunged into a territory that is so unfamiliar to many traditional politicians.

Maybe, and only perhaps, Rama is at the crossroads and has chosen which way to go.


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