Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, today lamented the staggering number of available jobs in government in the midst of record-high unemployment.

JOEL9 - ‘Justify 180,000 unfilled positions in gov’t despite 670,000 ‘job orders’ — Sen. Villanueva
Sen. Joel Villanueva
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

This came after Villanueva took issue with the government’s unfilled plantilla (regular) positions, pointing out that there is a necessity to fill vacant roles given the need to generate jobs amid the record-high unemployment caused by the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the recent natural calamities.

Villanueva said that nearly 180,000 jobs in authorized plantilla positions in various government agencies remain unfilled, while it has allowed nearly 670,000 workers to be under the job order system.        

He pointed this out in today’s Senate floor debate on the proposed 2021 P4.5 trillion national budget.

Villanueva lamented that even some job order workers continue to work under the arrangement for years.

“Government should always be part of the solution, not the problem. People need jobs, and we have nearly 180,000 available jobs in our own backyard. Para na rin po tayong nagbubulok ng bigas sa bodega imbis na agad ipamahagi,” Villanueva said in a statement. (It is like allowing rice allowed to rot in bodegas instead of their being distributed.)

“For the past years, roughly one out of 10 authorized positions in the government is unfilled. For 2021, of the 1.8 million plantilla positions in government, some 178,009 authorized positions are unfilled. I raised this during the Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmation of the secretary of the DBM and was told that he will work on it. But if you look at the figures, wala pong nagbago (nothing has changed),” the senator said in today’s Senate floor debate on the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget.

“I think all of us will not be happy looking at this and I am looking for action from our respective departments, particularly our economic managers. Sayang po ang pondo kung taun-taon din namang bakante ang mga positions na ito, gamitin na lang natin para sa COVID-19 pandemic response at typhoon victims,” he added. (The funds are being wasted for not being used to employ more people to unfilled positions in government agencies. The should instead be used for pandemic response and for typhoon victims.) 

Villanueva pointed out the “staggering number of vacancies” in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) despite the high demand of construction and public works in the government’s Build-Build-Build flagship program.

At present, the DPWH has only filled 17,739 positions out of its 22,479 authorized regular positions.

Villanueva also raised the 4,588 job order personnel hired by the Department of Agriculture (DA), even when it has 3,511 vacancies. The agency also employs 1,206 through contract of service. 

Furthermore, the 2021 National Expenditure Program also showed 43,780 vacancies in the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) and 14,553 vacant positions in the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH). 

“Nakakalungkot pong isipin na napakarami pa ring bakanteng posisyon ng ating national government sa kabila ng napakataas na unemployment rate ng ating bansa. Nais po nating malaman kung bakit patuloy na bakante ang mga ito, gayong napakarami sa ating mga kababayan ang naghahanap pa rin ng trabaho,” Villlanueva said. (It is sad to note that there are many vacant positions in the national government although there is a high unemployment rate in the country, We want to know why there are many unfilled positions in government although there are many of countrymen looking for jobs.)   

Villanueva filed Senate Bill (SB) 709 which provides permanent appointment to all casual and contractual employees of the government who rendered the prescribed number of years of service.

Under the bill, all incumbent casual and contractual government employees who have rendered at least five years of exemplary and continuous service in the national government and six years of service in the case of local government units, shall be entitled to permanent appointment, subject to the requirements of the Constitution, relevant civil service laws and the Merit Selection Plan of the concerned agency.

The bill, which is on first reading, has been referred to the Senate civil service committee.

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