Press Release
August 3, 2013

'How can we stop PAGASA forecasters
from leaving Phil area of responsibility?'

PAGASA lost another seasoned weather forecaster, Ricky Fabregas, who had reportedly accepted a P100,000 a month job in Congo.

At the rate weather forecasters are leaving the Philippine area of responsibility, we may end up with no one alarming us that a typhoon is coming. If the problem is in the delay of the release of the benefits of PAGASA people, then I am confident that the DBM, being the main preacher of the gospel against red tape, will resolve it soonest.

Based on the 2013 budget, the money for Hazard Pay and the Magna Carta for Science and Technology, or RA 8439, the two allowances PAGASA personnel claim they are entitled to receive, is there.

For Hazard Pay, the bureaucracy-wide budget this year is P51.8 million while that for RA 8439 benefits is P183.7 million. This excludes hazard pay for the military and uniformed personnel.

For next year, the total allocation for Hazard Pay will increase to P832 million, and the Magna Carta for Science and Technology benefits to P224.6 million.

But the good news is that four new "hazard and hardship" allowances for civilian employees have been created in the 2014 budget.

These are : "Hazard Duty Pay" (P1.3 billion), "High Risk Duty Pay" (P893,000), "Hazardous Duty Pay" (P586 million), "Special Hardship Allowance" (P1.17 billion).

I think the restructuring and right-sizing of the hazard pay allocations stem from the redefinition of what constitutes a hazard. And the creation of "different shades" of hazard pay should be welcomed by those in high-risk jobs.

Thus I hope that the perennial compensation issues confronted by personnel in PAGASA and similar agencies will be solved by the new allocations in 2014.

If not, then ipapatawag natin sa Senado ang lahat ng stakeholders, hihingan natin sila ng solusyon, legislative in kind, if necessary, kung papapaano maagapan ang paglisan ng mga technical people na nasa "mission critical posts" tulad halimbawa ng air traffic controllers. Ito marahil ang una kong bubusisihin bilang Chairman ng Committee on Science and Technology. On how to stop this conversion of government technical people into OFWs.

Kung kailangan bang i-rebisa ang pay classification sa Salary Standardization Law III or special provisions or additional allocations sa General Appropriations Act, paguusapan natin 'yan.

Talent has the right to follow where the money is. Talented people has the right to happiness. Kung mababa talaga ang sweldo dito , hindi mo pwedeng i-Hold Departure Order sila. Ang pwede lang nating gawin ay isagad kung hanggang saan kaya, ang benepisyong kayang ibigay. And having lessened the gap between actual and potential income, pray that love for country will be enough to fill the difference. Kung hindi pa rin kaya, then we thank them for their services to the Republic, and wish them all the best.

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