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HomeFeatureOf months-long salary delays and ‘head hunting’ in CDO City Hall (Part...

Of months-long salary delays and ‘head hunting’ in CDO City Hall (Part 1)

Susan’s Notes
By Susan Palmes Dennis

ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina—I don’t know when this piece will see print but I wish a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to my family, friends, readers and followers whom I supported and who supported me through all these years.

I’ve been busy with visiting family members who came all the way from Cagayan de Oro City to be with me and my husband Ronnie. I may tell you more about them in the coming days but for now I’ve something to talk about so brace yourselves for some not-so-surprising but still quite disturbing news from the City of Golden Friendship.

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I’ve been hearing about it for sometime from contacts in local media and some local government circles so when it broke out as it did in both radio and Facebook, I was left wondering what happened to the man I knew—namely then Congressman Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy—-and the Klarex Uy who is now the city mayor.

He seemed to be the same guy I knew whom I actually campaigned for in his inaugural run for mayor alongside former councilor Eric Salcedo when I visited him at the mayor’s office recently.  My confusion over Uy stemmed from reports I received that an undetermined number of City Hall employees—whose ranks ballooned from 2,000 in 2019 to a shocking 6,000 plus in 2023 and counting—remained unpaid for several months.

At first glance, this situation can be attributed to the challenge of finding ways to pay for all these employees, a lot of whom got employed during the COVID-19 pandemic and still others who are Klarex loyalists expecting employment as a prize for their support in the 2022 elections.  I heard a lot of stories about these loyalists, some of whom were later stationed as City Hall security detail in order to get a monthly salary.

Hence it would be no surprise why City Hall would find it difficult to pay for all of them including the regular rank-and-file employees in the bureaucracy.  What was surprising, however, were comments made in the Facebook page ‘Mata Na CDO’ claiming that the City Finance Office prioritized themselves along with the 30 plus department managers and the mayor’s advisors in the allocation and release of the year end cash bonuses and incentives ahead of the rank and file and even casuals and job order workers at City Hall.

This I find particularly abominable and outright disgusting coming as it is under the Klarex administration. These comments are but part of the growing disatisfaction and burgeoning complaints against the mayor and his sub alterns, a lot of whom have their own separate agenda to pursue and are sadly using Klarex as a means to an end to achieve said personal agenda.

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One of those contacts I talked to admitted to me about plans of posting his/her rant on the delayed salaries in his/her Facebook page after he/she became one of the victims of the ‘DSR’ (delayed salary release) ‘phenomena’ that is fast becoming common place in Cagayan de Oro City Hall.

The plan to post the rant didn’t come to pass after said employee voiced fears of political reprisal from Klarex’s spies and loyalists in City Hall, a lot of whom are only waiting and too eager to replace him/her.  I commiserated with the employee’s plight while being angered by what I thought was a return to the old days of political patronage in City Hall when the late mayor Vicente ‘Dongkoy’ Emano ruled the roost along with his loyal cabal in the City Council.

What I found disgusting was the allegation unfounded or not that an entire City Hall department specifically the Finance Office, would decide on its own to prioritize themselves along with the department managers and the mayor’s ‘solsoltants’ (I’m told these solsoltants prefer to be called overseers rather than, ugh, consultants to avoid being singled out during the annual review by the Commission on Audit) in receiving the year end bonuses and cash incentives ahead of a large number of the bureaucracy, who do the actual grunt work in serving the public while they stuff themselves with taxpayers money and relax in the comfort of airconditioned offices.

Pakapalan na lang sa dagway (literally translated as ‘brazeness’ or shamelessness) is how one would describe those responsible for the plight of these employees, again a lot of whom weren’t paid for months on end. I also find contemptible the solsoltants, whom I heard are being paid as much as department managers, are paid ahead of regular, casual and job order employees who may or may not be loyal to the administration. If a Magnum Radyo reporter’s claim is true, then these solsoltants are paid P200,000 in taxpayers money monthly—about the same as the department managers—in exchange for coaching the mayor while engaging in peddling their influence over Klarex for ‘additional benefits.’

Some of these solsoltants are in fact positioning themselves to assume department manager positions that were vacated just this December.  I will elaborate on their insidious designs hopefully in the next part but for now, suffice it to say that these solsoltants along with the department managers are being told to ‘lay low’ on their social media pages so as not to invite further backlash from the unpaid, yet hard working City Hall employees.
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Which brings me back to Mayor Klarex because at the end of the day all the stench emanating from this unholy mess created by his subalterns, his solsoltants and loyal cadre of appointed officials contrast sharply and stands in stark contrast to his frequent public statements on how he commiserates and is supportive of the entire City Hall bureaucracy regardless of political affiliation so long as they work with him (kauban).

Watching him deliver his monthly messages at the first City Hall flag raising program of every month as aired in his official Facebook page and at the Cagayan de Oro City Information Office, I find it strange and somewhat difficult to reconcile his seemingly plain, wholesome and even sincere demeanor and promises of material benefits to City Hall employees with what is actually happening on the ground under his administration.

The frequent shows of entertainment and presentations of achievements like those ‘People’s Day’ and ‘Klarex Sa Baryo’ outreach programs may look polished due to the machinations of his PR Communications team—some of whom are holdovers of the previous administration that wormed their way into Klarex’s good graces and whom I also heard from local media friends are undermining the City Information Office’s role in covering and reporting the daily activities of his office in order to justify their existence.

And in the midst of all of this foul stench, the countless City Hall employees who toil in the background who may or may not have security of tenure or were supplanted by Klarex’s synchopants are left wondering and gnashing their teeth at why they are being criminally neglected by their payroll masters in favor of the select influential favored few who get to cut the line and get their greedy hands on taxpayers money.

Ah yes, I’ve also been told about the so-called new ‘payroll system’ being implemented in City Hall as the source of this so-called delays. I’ve likewise been told that the City Finance Office is doubling their efforts to get the city’s business owners and taxpayers to pay their business permits and taxes ahead of the January 20, 2024 deadline—even if as this current episode shows, the finance office is not above prioritizing themselves, the solsoltants and the department managers ahead of the bureaucracy in receiving their salaries and year end benefits.

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