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House panel approves bill on rightsizing for agencies under Executive department

The House government reorganization panel on Monday approved the draft substitute bill on the proposed National Government Rightsizing Act, a measure aimed at trimming the  state workforce to be more responsive to the people's needs.

The panel approved the still unnumbered substitute bill after it incorporated the input of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which had the proposed rightsizing bill of lawmakers placed under technical review prior to Monday’s hearing.

The draft substitute bill on the rightsizing measure provides that the rightsizing will only cover government agencies under the Executive department, except for teachers and those medical-related posts in government agencies under the Executive department, including hospitals and medical facilities.

Aside from teaching and medical-allied personnel, the rightsizing measure will not cover military and uniformed personnel, as well as positions in the Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and Government Financial Institutions which are already under the jurisdiction of the Governance Commission on GOCCs.

House appropriations panel senior vice chairperson and Marikina City 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo insisted that the rightsizing should be implemented only after an evaluation of existing government agencies has been completed by competent authorities within a six-month timeframe.

“The implementation of rightsizing says [here] 90 days after the approval of proposed executive issuances. Hindi ba dapat ang (Shouldn't the) reckoning [noong implementation] ay iyong completion ng strategic review? I just want to make sure that, when you implement rightsizing, it should be based on the results of the strategic review,” Quimbo pointed out.

“That is why we are asking the timeframe because we are worried that executive issuances will be independent from the strategic review. Kung puwede sana, maging specific in the languages [in terms of stating it in the bill] Quimbo added.

(If it's possible, the language should be specific.)

DBM Undersecretary Wilford Wong readily agreed with Quimbo.

“Yes, we acknowledge that the review should come first before we do any changes of movements on agencies,” Wong said.

Annie Enriquez-Geron, general secretary of PSLINK which is a national confederation of unions in the public sector representing more than 80,000 employees, earlier said a Rightsizing bill should not be pursued when the government did not even conduct impact assessment on past rightsizing efforts. 

“The Rightsizing bill is being pursued by the administration with lack of caution. All previous reorganizations have failed because while they have been called under different names in the name of efficient and responsive government service, the problems are still there: the red tape, as well as the huge number of contract of service and job orders now reaching 640,000 and 170,000 unfilled positions. Many of these contractuals have been in government service for many years,” Geron said.

“Implementing large scale rightsizing without conducting any impact assessment of previous reorganization is certainly bound to fail. We are yet to see any impact assessment addressing contractualization, curbing political patronage, ensuring transparency, respecting workers’ rights [as a result of reorganization],” Geron added. —KG, GMA Integrated News