BARANGAY WORKERS UNPAID
Buddy Lopez, 54, has been struggling to make both ends meet for nearly four months now.
Lopez is supposed to be gainfully employed as a member of Barangay Tisa’s Lupong Tagapamayapa, or an arbitrator for disputes among residents that need to be settled within the barangay level, but she has not been paid her honorarium from the Cebu City government since June.
“Grabe na gyud kadugay. Ang amo unta hangyo nga masweldohan na mi sa amo counterpart sa city. Mangaon intawon mi og bugas diri (It’s been long delayed. We hope we can already receive our pay from the city. We also need to eat rice),” she told Cebu Daily News.
As a Lupon member, she is entitled to a monthly honorarium of P2,000 from the city government. But the last pay she received was for the services she rendered for the month of May, which was released only on the first week of September. Lupon members receive another P2,000 as incentive from the barangay.
“Mao ra intawon ni among gisaligan (We only depend on our honorarium),” said Lopez whose husband is currently unemployed. They have four children.
Lopez is just one of the 71 barangay workers in Barangay Tisa who have not received their honorarium from City Hall for the past three months.
Barangay Tisa has 20 barangay tanods who are supposed to each get P5,000 a month; 20 barangay health workers (BHWs) who should also receive P5,000 monthly; 11 loaders and drivers, each with monthly pay of P6,000; and 20 Lupong Tagapamayapa members.
Tisa Barangay Captain Philip Zafra, also the president of the city’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), echoed the cries of his barangay’s workers.
“My appeal to the concerned departments is that they should work on this and really pay attention on the honorarium of our barangay workers because they are not playing around, they are working. They have families to feed. What would they do when they haven’t received their honorarium for how many months? They might not want to work anymore, it can really affect our services,” he said.
He said the delay started when changes were made in the processing of the village workers’ honorarium after the administration of Mayor Tomas Osmeña took over in July. The processing used to be done by clusters but was changed to per barangay. That’s why, he said, it was puzzling why release of the funds was still delayed.
Moreover, Zafra said, it was not just his barangay but almost all other barangays in the city that were experiencing the delay.
Wrong side of the fence?
Although he said he does not want to blame politics in the delay of the release of the honoraria, Zafra revealed only the barangays whose leaders are allied with Osmeña had their workers’ honoraria released on time.
Zafra, a member of the opposition Team Rama headed by defeated reelectionist mayor Michael Rama, said the barangays have been diligent in submitting the documents required by City Hall, but the honoraria were still not released.
Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman, also with Team Rama, revealed that workers in his barangay also faced the same problem.
He said that their 20 barangay tanods are yet to receive their honoraria for the month of June. But he said they heard that it might be released today.
For their 11 Lupong Tagapamayapa members, Ayuman said they heard that they will also be getting their honorarium for June by next week.
Their 16 loaders and drivers, he said, haven’t received their honoraria for the months of April and May.
But for their ten BHWs, Ayuman said they have already received their honorarium for June. But none yet for the subsequent months.
“I just hope that processing of these payments will be fast-tracked. I hope there aren’t any more problems,” Ayuman said.
No politics involved
City Accountant Arlene Rentuza insisted there was no intention to delay the honoraria for barangay workers, saying they acted immediately on payrolls that reach her office, provided they did not lack requirements, such as the accomplishment reports.
“In fact, we have been releasing from time to time the honoraria of other barangay workers. I just cannot memorize all of them,” she said.
Instead of complaining, Rentuza urged Zafra to ask his personnel to follow up the release of the honoraria from the other concerned city departments.
She said aside from the accounting office, the processing of the payment also passes through the city treasurer office, the city budget officer, the city administrator and the mayor’s office.
The ABC is also involved in the processing, and if the ABC is quick in processing, City Hall can also act on it immediately, Rentuza said.
City Budget Officer Marietta Gumia, on the other hand, said some of the barangay workers might have not been able to get their honorarium because of the problem in their appointment papers.
She said for those working starting July this year, the village workers would need to present documents that would attest that their barangay councils have proposed for their hiring and that they have appointment papers signed by their respective barangay captains.
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