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Thursday, April 25, 2024
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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 2)

Susan’s Notes

By Susan Palmes Dennis 

ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina—As I wrote this, it’s only two days until the world ushers in 2024 or officially known in the Chinese calendar as the Year of the Dragon.  I can only imagine the sense of festivities in every Filipino regardless of how humble it may be as they greet the New Year.

For me, I am just thankful to God that my husband Ronnie and I were able to bring my daughter and her family all the way from Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental province in northern Mindanao, Philippines to our home here in the US to spend the holidays with us.

And thank you to all my followers and friends for staying with me through all these years. There are many more issues to tackle, not least of which is the election season in the US in 2024. But first, allow me to pick up where we last left off, namely the pitiful plight of Cagayan de Oro City Hall employees and their ongoing travails over their delayed salaries.

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As a former government employee myself—I did work the courts before I moved to mainstream media—I do know a thing or two about how centralized the government’s payroll system is and I assume things are no different now especially that everything’s supposed to be done online. This year’s experience at Cagayan de Oro City Hall is however getting to be quite concerning. 

When I first heard about it from some of my sources I thought that like any new system, there will be rough patches of transition to be experienced. True enough, I did receive reports of even regular employees receiving their salaries a full week delayed from the usual 15th and 30th release dates. Again, given that City Hall’s work force ballooned from 2,000 plus in 2019 to over 6,000 in 2023 I expected there will be difficulties.

But December 2023 may be the worst yet and sadly there’s little to zero information as to how many employees were affected by the salary delays.  Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy, who had been quite extravagant in his promises of bonuses to City Hall employees, explained away the salary delays to the failure of said employees to properly fill out the requirements needed by payroll masters to process their salaries.

With the new system in place, we would be hard pressed to explain in detail what these requirements are.  Then there’s also the security involved since we don’t want hackers or any unscrupulous dealers to know said details of the payroll system lest they get their filty hands on it and who knows what damage they can do. Still, I do suspect that these requirements involve the actual recorded work logs of every City Hall employee.

If I remember correctly, former city councilor Prexy Elipe got into trouble with the Sandiganbayan who convicted him for falsifying the daily time schedules of a family relative.  Obviously such an incident cannot be tolerated but surely with everything that’s high tech now, any attempt to falsify the time records of any employee regardless of how high placed he or she may be can be counter checked online.

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Unfortunately it seems as if the payroll system for what it’s worth is rigged in favor of the top ranked officials and the mayor’s advisors and not across the board to include the City Hall bureaucracy.  And as employees who were identified with and were hired by the previous administration feared with some reason, they may be targeted for salary delays by those close to the mayor and the mayor’s followers and spies at City Hall.  

As I previously reported, the City Finance Office supposedly prioritized themselves, the department managers and the mayor’s advisors in the release of the 15th month pay, the P10,000 cash gift and in some departments, a full-month’s worth of salary (since they didn’t receive their salary on the 15th, the full month is released at the end of the month). So imagine how the lower ranked employees must be feeling on learning about this news.

Again, the mayor will insist that there’s no discrimination whatsoever in terms of salary allocation and so on, but the reality hits hard and different on the ground.  I wondered whether such a situation was experienced in the previous administration of former mayor Oscar Moreno. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic when money was hard, I hardly ever received such negative reports.

So imagine these employees hearing their department managers and especially the mayor’s advisors—a lot of whom are either not doing anything that actually constitutes work or are too busy scheming on ways to peddle their influence on Mayor Klarex and advance their own self agenda—being paid ahead of them and paid more than they would earn in one year. What’s this I hear that these advisors are paid as much as the department managers?

I heard from one local radio station that City Hall’s department managers are paid P200,000 monthly, or more than what an average rank and file employee receives in a year even if said employee does the actual grunt work of serving the public including weekends during the barangay outreach programs.  Not to say that the department managers are not doing their jobs but do these advisors deserve to be paid as much as they do?  

As it is, I hope the 20th City Council looks into the complaints of the City Hall employees on the delayed salaries including if possible just how much these mayor’s advisors are getting from taxpayers’ money.  Since some of these solsoltants are jockeying for department positions anyway, I think it’s high time that they be grilled and examined under the glare of the public spotlight.  And oh, the mayor should penalize City Hall’s payroll masters and fire them if necessary for these recent debacles on the payroll system which so far had favored the select few over the vast bureaucratic majority.

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