ROUGH CUTS | Ending ‘endo’ a nebulous dream

LAST WEEK, the President was reported to have identified and determined the number of companies violating the order of putting an end to labor only contracting, or the “endo” scheme.    But will the government be able to get full compliance of such order to end employment on contract basis? Yes, the government itself should stop its own “endo” scheme if it wants private companies to follow its order. It should make itself  “the example.”

It may be recalled that some years back the most popular word among workers among civil servants especially the local government units, is “casual.” This refers to hiring of people mostly political leaders, as a way for winning candidates to pay back the support given by their leaders in the barangays and districts.

When the word became synonymous to inefficiency in government service at various offices staffed mostly by casuals, government executives both in the national and local levels changed it to “contractual” which sounds less discriminatory. A few years back the term was again changed into “job order” and has remained the same until today despite the word’s apparently “commodity” sounding.

This scheme of accommodating recommendations of political leaders though, is now the one putting Davao City into an unpleasant limelight, courtesy of the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) in its annual verification of expenses of the city for the year 2017.

The City’s “endo” scheme, according to the findings of the COA, is categorized into two. One group of 4,801 workers of the local government is labeled under “job orders.” Meanwhile, some 7,653 employees are put under the category of “contract of service personnel.” If there is any difference between the two “endo” categories it could probably be on hair line. Or, it may just be a play in terminology to make it easy to skirt around should some government watchdogs question the apparent abuse of one prerogative by some elected officials.

The COA report further claims that the total number of job order and contract of service personnel of Davao City last year cost the local government in terms of salaries and wages including bonuses some P938.7 million. This year Davao City has employed 5,165 job order personnel and 6,081contract of service employees. So, the COA is foreseeing that the city’s expenses for salaries and wages of these “endo” employees would breach the P1 billion mark.

For now we have no idea how many are plantilla employees of the city government. But what we can be certain about is that the regular workers are lesser in number compared to the “endos.”

Of course the COA has not suspended the expenditures covered by the huge amount. This may be the reason why Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is not worried a bit even saying that City Hall has already submitted all pertinent documents to justify the expenses as well as prove to the COA that there was no anomaly in the disbursement of the funds.

We too, do not doubt as to the integrity of the lady mayor; that she is one who would allow her name to be dragged into any anomaly of sort while serving as the city’s chief executive.

However, we cannot also blame the COA if it develops suspicion on the reason why the city has to engage the services of so huge a number of job order personnel and contract of service workers. Why, does a city of 1.6 million people need that many workers to backstop the regular ones?

And what departments or offices are these “endo” employees assigned? There are loose talks that some of them are actually serving as house helps of certain elected officials but are included in the payroll roster of “endos” at the City’s Human Resource Office.

There are also personnel in the two herein-mentioned categories who got employed because they are considered under certain politicians’ and officials’ quota for hiring.

In other words, the city leadership would probably perpetuate this accommodation arrangement for political expedience. And for as long as the Human Resources Office of City Hall can be certain that the whereabouts of these more than 12 thousand job order workers and contract of service employees can be traced any time there will be physical inventory, this strategy of accommodation will continue as long as there are government units that will continue to operate.

As for the Commission on Audit, perhaps it needs some more diggings of records supporting the hiring of these workers. And if within its means, it has to conduct a physical count of these workers according to their postings.

If the COA finds discrepancies in the number of those worker categories and the inventories of warm bodies, then it must immediately suspend the payment vouchers and where evidence warrant hail the erring local executives to the Ombudsman.

Posted in Opinion