ACES Memo (Nov.25, 2011)

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

This Memorandum reeks of desperation. You be the judge fellow employees.

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PRESS RELEASE
November 14, 2012
Reference : Mac Ramirez, Convenor
Contact : comelecwagefight@gmail.com

With fiscal year almost over:
Poll workers say agency’s savings should be allotted to raise employees’ wages, benefits

With the fiscal year almost over, a formation of Commission on Elections (COMELEC) employees today reiterated their appeal for salary adjustment in light of multi-billion pesos in savings accrued by the agency thru the past years.

The COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance estimates that the poll body has P3-5 billion in savings from the 2010 automated elections and from the 2011 budget.

The group maintained that Section 61 of the General Provisions of the General Appropriations Act (Fiscal year 2011) states that “in the use of savings, priority shall be given to the augmentation of the amounts set aside for compensation, year-end bonus and cash gift, retirement gratuity, terminal leave benefits, old-age pension of veterans and other personnel benefits…”

“Before the COMELEC closes the books for another fiscal year, we maintain that the savings accrued by the poll body over the past years be used to augment the salary of thousands of COMELEC employees. The General Appropriations Act is very clear on this: In the use of savings, the employees should be prioritized,” stated COMELEC Wage Fight Convenor Mac Ramirez, saying that a huge chunk of the COMELEC’s savings are generated because of the employees’ contribution to productivity and cost-cutting measures.

“Imbes na mapunta sa kurapsyon ang savings, dapat mapunta ito sa kapakanan ng mga empleyado.”

Ramirez noted that by allocating the COMELEC’s billions of Pesos in savings to raise the salary of its employees, the COMELEC, led by Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. “will decisively end the unjust wage disparity that has, for decades, caused embarrassment and demoralization among the almost six thousand COMELEC personnel nationwide.”

According to the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance, an Election Officer I in COMELEC receive only a monthly pay of P18,333 (Salary Grade 12) despite their huge responsibility of having to supervise the conduct of elections in their jurisdiction. The group says that, as a head of office, an Election Officer, most notably the Lawyers, should be compensated similar to that of a Division Chief in government offices which has a monthly pay of  P43, 612 or Salary Grade 24. A Clerk I in COMELEC, the group added, receives only a P9, 628 monthly salary (Salary Grade 3), while in other government agencies and Constitutional Commissions, the prevailing rate for Clerks starts at P12, 880 or Salary Grade 7.

Higher pay as antidote to ‘temptation’

The wage disparity in the poll body (as compared to other government agencies and Constitutional Bodies) becomes most evident during election period, according to the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance, because the election honoraria received by the employees are calculated according to their basic salary.

“We Election Officers act as Chairperson of the Board of Canvassers (BOC) during elections and the City/Municipal Supervisor of the Department of Education and City/Municipal Treasurers are just our Members. Yet they receive a much bigger election honoraria simply because their salary is much higher than ours!,”said Valenzuela Election Officer and COMELEC Wage Fight Convenor Armando Mallorca.

Earlier, the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance has expressed agreement with the recent statement of Bureau of Customs Chief Ruffy Biazon that a higher salary might help “lessen temptation in office.”

“COMELEC employees too are exposed to a lot of temptation especially during elections. This is why we believe raising our pay might prove to be a big help in resisting them,”Mallorca noted. ###

PRESS RELEASE
November 10, 2011
Reference : Mac Ramirez, Convenor
Contact : comelecwagefight@gmail.com

Poll workers agree with BOC Chief that higher pay may help lessen ‘temptation’

A formation of Commission on Elections (COMELEC) employees united in pushing for adjustment of their salaries agrees with the observation of the newly-installed Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon that giving employees’ adequate pay may help lessen ‘temptations’ in office.

But the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance! says that not only those who are from revenue generating agencies such as the BOC and the BIR deserves higher pay, but also workers from other government agencies including the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

“Considering the extremely high cost of living nowadays and in light of the fact that the present Salary Standardization Law simply is not enough to tide our families through these very tough times, COMELEC employees too deserve a just and appropriate pay,” says COMELEC Wage Fight! Convenor Armando Mallorca.

A higher pay added Mallorca, “may help COMELEC employees fight temptations”, saying that poll workers are often times exposed to a lot of temptations most especially during the election period.
The COMELEC Wage Fight! Alliance, said Mallorca, have been clamoring for the adjustment of the salaries of poll workers nationwide saying that their wages is not at par with those received by workers in other Constitutional Bodies and government agencies.

According to Mallorca, an Election Officer I receive only a monthly pay of P18, 333 (Salary Grade 12) despite their huge responsibility of having to supervise the conduct of elections in their jurisdiction. He also added that a Clerk I in the COMELEC only receives P9, 628 monthly (Salary Grade 3), while in other government agencies, the prevailing rate for Clerks starts at P12, 880 (Salary Grade 7).

“We are calling for the immediate adjustment of our salaries in order to correct the glaring wage gap that has victimized the entire COMELEC work force for decades,” said Mallorca.

The COMELEC Wage Fight! Alliance maintains that as a Constitutional Commission which enjoys fiscal autonomy, there is no stopping the COMELEC under the leadership of Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. to adjust the salary of poll workers if it really has the political will to bring this to fruition. -end

MEMORANDUM

FOR                            :           LUALLAH ELISA B. PAMA,  ACES President

SUBJECT                    :           ACES FACEBOOK AND WEBSITE

DATE                          :           November 3, 2011

______________________________________________________________

This pertains to your Memorandum (below) dated 25 October 2011 – addressed to the undersigned members of the ACES Board of Officers – asking for the password for the ACES Facebook and WordPress accounts.

In your Memo, you said that we have committed “breach of trust” for the following reasons:

1.      (We) have used the ACES internet connection for your own personal propaganda and not for the union’s main goal of uniting the membership;

2.      (We) have illegally used the name of the ALLIANCE/ACES and solicited contributions for your press conference without clearance from this office, and;

3.      (We) issued statements without coordination with this office.

Allow us to clarify matters.

For your information, we have NOT used the ACES Facebook group page and website for “personal propaganda.” In fact, the group page has become a very helpful tool in uniting the COMELEC rank and file in the main and field offices in the campaign for the immediate adjustment of our salaries. Thanks to the Facebook group page, we even successfully coordinated a nationwide, simultaneous action last September on our fight for salary adjustment and publicized a forum on the same subject last October 27 that was attended by no less than the Honorable Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.

This is the reason why we fail to see the merit in your claim that we used ACES Facebook group page and website for “personal propaganda.” We maintain that pushing for salary adjustment would not benefit only the four of us but the more than five thousand COMELEC personnel nationwide.

As to your allegation that we used the name of the ACES to solicit money for a press conference, this stretches the imagination. We can’t wait to see your alleged “documentary evidence” that will prove this truly happened.

But then again and for the information of all, we have successfully mounted a nationwide streamer hanging activity and two COMELEC Wage Fight Forums (August 21, 2011 and October 27, 2011) WITHOUT using the name of the ACES to solicit funds. Aside from using our own money to cover for materials and reproduction of documents, we received voluntary donations from fellow rank and file employees NOT because we used the name of ACES but because of the overwhelming support that our cause have gathered.

And YES, we (particularly Ramirez and Mallorca) issued statements before, using the name of the ACES. Being duly elected officialS of the Alliance, we see no problem with this. Besides, we released those statements for the benefit of the COMELEC rank and file and not for our own personal gain.

And the fact that the ACES President has not called for a meeting since March contributed heavily to the lack of coordination among Officers of the Union. But of course, the welfare of the rank and file employees is weightier than red tape! This is why we never allowed bureaucratic coordination and the absence of formal meetings to deter us from speaking in behalf of the COMELEC rank and file.

ACES MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Madam President, in order to allow us to settle differences and other unresolved issues among the Board of Officers of the Alliance, we are calling for a MEMBERSHIP MEETING on November 25, 2011. We are currently seeking signatures from ACES members to support this call.

Be informed that the DULY RATIFIED and APPROVED ACES Constitution and By-Laws (Article V Section 11) provides that special members meetings can be called by the request of the majority of the Board of Officers or upon written request of at least one-fifth (1/5) of the total regular membership of the Alliance.

We hope that we use this venue to once and for all settle all issues so that we may be able to move forward as one Union.

As President of the Alliance, you owe it to the members to attend the Membership Meeting being called for to lead the discussion and the resolution of pressing concerns such as the campaign for salary increase, the long overdue ACES registration and accreditation, and the arbitrary dismissal of elected ACES officers from the Board and other pertinent organizational concerns.

(sgd)
Mac Ramirez
Vice-President for Internal Affairs

(sgd)
Armando M. Mallorca
Vice-President for External Affairs

(sgd)
Gel Gerardino
Secretary General

(sgd)
Edward Macasu
Member, Board of Officers

——————–

Pama’s October 25 Memorandum, below:

Kung kaya nilang gawin ito para sa Chairman at Commissioners? Ano ang pipigil sa kinauukulan para i-adjust ang sahod ng mga rank and file na empleyado?

 

 

Atty. Patrick Enaje, President of the Metro Manila Election Officers Association (MMEOA)


First and foremost I would like, as I have stated in our earlier discussion, to again clarify that we in the Metro Manila Election Officers Association (MMEOA FOR SHORT) are not complaining with our current duties and responsibilities.  Being in government service is already a fulfilment in itself; and, being in the COMELEC service as Election Officers is a bonus thereof,  WHY? because every day as we religiously perform our task, one way or another we believe that we have been an instrument to give each and every Filipinos a better lives.

Now considering that one way or another we help our government in giving our people to have better lives we are now giving this simple request, which here in the COMELEC through our Honorable Commissioners can definitely address, we are also asking one way or another and also a Filipino citizen to make our lives better.

Yes we agree with the COMELEC WAGE FIGHT that there is a great disparity in the salary schedule of COMELEC employees.

As early as April 1, 2002 our Regional Office have been sending proposal for creation of position for promotion of election officers and election assistants and upgrading of the salary grade of the regional election attorney. In that proposal we are requesting for the creation of Election Officer V  with SG 23 and Election Officer VI with SG 25 because in highly urbanized city like in metro manila we have a voting population same as that of a province.  We also request for a creation of EA III and EA IV considering that their position is also determined by the number of registered voters but they do not have corresponding EA 3 and EA 4 as compared to the position of Election officers.

So if you a fresh graduate and appointed as EA, you can only hope to retire as EA II,  no matter how well an EA performs in the office there will be no room for promotion and the end result is, if an EA become an EA 2, unless he becomes a lawyer, he will retire as an EA 2 same scenario also happen to our EO’s.

Presently, there are only four (4) position for Election Officers (EO’s), namely:  EO 1, EO 2 EO III and EO IV,  which are Salary Grades 12, 15, 18 and 21, respectively.  In the National Capital Region, where we are located,  all Election Officers are EO IV except the Election Officer for Pateros which is only EO III.  Of all the field offices, only Pateros do not require an Election Officer to be a lawyer.  Hence, 30 Election Officer Position in the NCR requires a lawyer as mandated by law with a Salary Grade of 21.

The Public Attorney’s Office of the DOJ has a Salary Grade 25 as its lowest position for lawyers.  The Clerk of Court V of the Regional Trial Courts is SG 24;  Clerk of Court VI is SG 25; and Clerk of Court VII is SG 26.  Other offices in other agencies of the government have similar higher salary grades for lawyer positions.   It appears, therefore, that it is only in Comelec that the salary grade for lawyers is very low and not competitive.  (see NCR memo dated April 2002)

Our Election Officers, as mandated by law, chair different Boards in pre-election and election period.  We have the Election Registration Board composed of the Election Officer as Chairman,  the head of the Local Civil Registrar and DepEd superintendent as members.   The Salary Grade of the Chairman of the said Board is Salary Grade 21 while the members enjoys SG 26. Same scenario also occurs during canvassing when the Election officers chair the most controversial Board known as the City Board of Canvassers which sometimes if you are lucky you will end up with only one administrative complaint.  The Chairman of the City Board of Canvassers is the Election Officer and the Vice-chair is the City Prosecutor and the other member is the Highest ranking officer of the Deped who is usually the superintendent.  The Chairman, again receives SG 21 while the vice chair receives SG 29 and the other member receives SG which ranges from 25 to 27.  At the end of the day,  the chair who ends up answering different complaints and queries before the Honorable National Board of Canvassers and House of Represetatives Electoral Tribunal,  receives a glaring seven thousand five hundred as his Honoraria which is equivalent to 25% of his Salary, and if he in his discretion needs to include some of his staff in order to make sure for the easy canvassing procedure he will also suffer an equivalent deduction for the honoraria of those additional personnel, like what happened last automated election.

Election Officers are representatives of the COMELEC in the city or municipality where they are assigned.   Other National Office, like COA, DILG, PNP, DSWD etc. also has representatives like the COMELEC. But, compared to them, our representative only receives SG21.  The COA representative in the city enjoys SG 26, the DILG director in the City also enjoys higher Salary Grade than the COMELEC and not to make our comparison an overkill I will not anymore deal with those other offices who has definitely way beyond our Salary Grade.

Now With COMSTRAT 1116, HEADED BY NO LESS THAN OUR HONORABLE CHAIRMAN SIXTO BRILLANTES all of this, we hope, ARE THINGS OF THE PAST.  As you have experience from our benefits our Honorable Chairman has already shown his generosity and HEART FOR the rank and file employees of the COMELEC.

THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US.  THE MMEOA fully supports the COMELEC WAGE FIGHT.

by Mac Ramirez, Convenor of the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance

The “Pillars of Rank and File Development – A forum on employees’ wages and benefits” was a breakthrough not only in terms of turnout (almost a hundred employees participated, some coming from as far as Cebu, Bicol and Bataan), it is also the first time that we were able to gather big organizations such as the Metro Manila Election Officers Association (MMEOA) and the Provincial Election Supervisors Association of the Philippines (PESAP) to join us in our cause.

Also, no less than the Personnel Department, through its Director Atty. Margaret C. Ching and the Honorable Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. attended and spoke at yesterday’s forum and pledged support to adjust our salaries as soon as possible.

The Confederation for the Unity and Recognition of All Government Employees (COURAGE), the largest umbrella alliance of public sector unions in the country, as well as the Supreme Court Employees Association (SCEA) participated and threw their support to our crusade.

Culmination

Without a doubt, the forum yesterday can be considered, somewhat, as the culmination of scattered efforts to raise the issue of unjust wage disparity in COMELEC. In our interaction with our colleagues in the main and field offices, we learned that not a few COMELEC employees associations in various regions in the past have tried to bring this issue up with COMELEC higher ups.

Even Director Ferdinand Rafanan, back when he was still Regional Election Director for the National Capital Region in 2002, has made representations to the COMELEC En Banc in behalf of NCR Election Officers and Election Assistants.

But sadly, all these efforts failed to gain ground – not until the formation of COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance, 28th of May 2011.

Simula nang unang pagpupulong ng mga Convenors ng COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance noong maulang araw na iyon ng Mayo, naging sentral nang bahagi sa lahat ng huntahan sa mga upisina ang isyu ng ating mababang sahod.

Unti-unting nagkaroon ng lakas ng loob ang mga empleyado na magsalita at kumilos para magkaroon na ng pagbabago sa usaping ito.

Sa puntong ito, nag-umpisa nang makinig sa ating makatwirang hinaing ang mga kinauukulan.

After all, the issue of unjust disparity in our wages affects not only the rank and file, but also those who are up above the echelons.

And so, from a rag-tag group of four determined individuals, the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance now has members and supporters across the country.

The nationwide simultaneous streamer hanging last September 9, 2011 was a resounding and effective show of force on our part. The event, tagged as a ‘milestone’, was participated by COMELEC employees from the Main Office in Intramuros, Manila; Valenzuela; Cavite; Antipolo City; San Juan, Batangas; Nueva Vizcaya; Legazpi City; Daraga, Albay; Camarines Sur; Torrijos, Marinduque; Cebu; Lantapan, Bukidnon; Misamis Occidental; Iligan City, North Cotabato; Maguindanao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Support from major COMELEC employees groups nationwide have also started to pour in. Supporting organizations include the Bicol Region Association of COMELEC Employees (BRACE), Association of COMELEC Employees Camarines Sur (ACE CamSur), Metro Manila Election Officers Association (MMEOA), Capiz COMELEC Employees Association (CACEA), Cavite COMELEC Employees Association (CACEA), South Cotabato COMELEC Employees Association (SCCEA) and the COMELEC Employees Association of the Province of Lanao del Sur, among others.

The October 27 forum

The correctness of our cause made all of these possible. COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. himself couldn’t deny this that he officially recognized the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance as the true representatives of the COMELEC rank and file when it comes to wages.

“Hindi lang naman kayo ang Wage Fight e… Wage Fight din ako,” an elated COMELEC Chairman said as he addressed employees gathered at the forum yesterday.

He reported that the activity was in fact the third time he met with convenors of the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance, but he was quick to point out that yesterday was different because “mas marami na kayo ngayon,” drawing laughter and applause from the audience.

The Chairman told us that he made it a point to attend the forum because he prefers to initiate long term and strategic employees’ benefits such as adjusting our salary. “Mas gusto ko ito. Hindi ‘yung palaging may bumubulong sa akin sa elevator ng ‘Chairman wala bang bonus’?”

The COMELEC Chairman stayed all throughout the forum, saying that he wants to hear what the audience have to say.

During the open forum part, Ms. Marilou Paredes, an Election Officer who flew all the way from Cebu just to attend the forum complained of low salaries of Election Officers as compared to their counterparts in other agencies.

She also related to the Chairman that despite their low salaries, “palagi kaming nag-aabono.” The Chairman told her that he completely understands her situation and even suggested that Ms. Paredes be given a medal for her commitment!

An Election Officer from Cavite also took the microphone to suggest that field offices’ work days be made flexible (ie from Tuesday to Sunday) so as to accommodate registrants who usually have only Sundays as day-off to register. The Chairman told the EO that his suggestion is quite sensible (as far as accommodating the broadest number of registrants as possible is concerned) but said that this should only be done in a case to case basis. He said he’ll bring the matter up to the En Banc.

But the Chairman’s statement that drew the loudest applause from the audience was when he told the employees’ gathered that “Sa pagpasok ng bagong taon, mauumpisahan niyo nang maramdaman ang adjustment sa inyong sweldo.”

Let us hope that the Chairman will live up to his promise. In the mean time, we should not be lulled into complacency.

On the part of the Convenors of the COMELEC Wage Fight Alliance, we will remain vigilant and will be on constant watch to ensure that the pro-employee reforms such as the immediate adjustment in our salaries will be on top of the agenda of the COMELEC under the stewardship of Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr.

Itama ang sahod sa COMELEC!
3-5 Salary Grade increase ngayon na!
Tuloy ang laban para sa makabuluhang dagdag sahod!
Suportahan ang P6000 legislated increase sa minimum pay ng mga kawani!

Media advisory
October 26, 2011
Reference: Mac Ramirez, Convenor
Contact: comelecwagefight@gmail.com

COMELEC employees to tackle low wages and budget cuts in a forum tomorrow

Rank and file employees of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) under the COMELEC Wage Fight! Alliance will be holding a forum tomorrow on employees’ wages, benefits and the looming budget cuts in the poll body’s budget.

The forum, entitled “Pillars of Rank and File Development” will be held at the COMELEC’s Project Management Office (PMO) at the ground floor of Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila.

“Tomorrow, we will bring to the fore the long standing problem that has affected the entire COMELEC work force for decades – our low salaries. We will register that our wages in COMELEC is not at par with the salaries of employees in other government agencies and Constitutional Commissions. We will reiterate our demand for salary adjustment in order to rectify this unjust wage gap,” stated Mac Ramirez, Convenor of the COMELEC Wage Fight! Alliance. 

Ramirez added that they will also discuss the slashing of P215.5 Million in COMELEC funds that include P164 Million in personnel savings which the DBM wants impounded and P51.5 Million funds for Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) which was transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“In view of the COMELEC’s exclusive right and responsibility in the exercise of its fiscal autonomy, we will call for the restoration of the P215.5 Million in funds slashed from the COMELEC’s proposed budget for next year. We will stand against budget cuts,” said Ramirez.

Joining tomorrow’s forum are Atty. Patrick Enaje, President of the Metro Manila Election Officers Association (MMEOA); Atty. Temie Lambino, President of the Provincial Election Supervisors Association of the Philippines (PESAP); COMELEC Personnel Department Director Atty. Margaret Ching and COURAGE National President Ferdinand Gaite.

COMELEC Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes will also speak in the forum tomorrow.###

PRESS RELEASE
October 19, 2011
Reference : Mac Ramirez, Convenor
Contact : comelecwagefight@gmail.com

Poll workers: Restore P215.5M slashed from COMELEC budget

A formation of Commission on Elections (COMELEC) rank and file employees united in pushing for a substantial increase in their salaries, called for the restoration of P215.5 million in funds slashed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in the poll body’s proposed budget for 2012.

The COMELEC Wage Fight!Alliancesaid the slashed funds include P164 million in personnel savings which the DBM wants impounded and P51.5 Million funds for Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) which was transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“The COMELEC has exclusive right and responsibility in the exercise of its fiscal autonomy. It has the sole discretion as to how it will spend its funds be it in the discharge of its Constitutional mandate to ensure a clean and credible elections or allotted for the welfare of its rank and file employees,” stated Mac Ramirez, Convenor of the COMELEC Wage Fight!Alliance.

Ramirez was particularly concerned over the threat to ‘hijack’ COMELEC’s P164 Million in personnel savings, saying that it is the rank and file employees that should benefit from it.

“Threats to hijack the P164 Million in personnel savings is of particular concern for the COMELEC rank and file. We believe that instead of using it to beef up the President’s Pork Barrel, as some Senators aver, the funds should be used to prioritize the augmentation of the salaries and benefits of COMELEC employees.”

According to Ramirez, COMELEC rank and file employees have been clamoring for the adjustment in their salaries. He said the wages received by COMELEC personnel is not at par with those received by employees in other government agencies and Constitutional Bodies. The disparity, in fact, ranges from three to five salary grade levels.

Ramirez cited for example the army of COMELEC Election Officers (EOs) which holds the sacred responsibility of supervising the conduct of elections at the ground level. They are victimized by this glaring wage gap, he said, as they only hold a Salary Grade level 12-15 (for EOs in small electoral municipalities) and SG 21 (for EOs in capital towns and cities). Yet, according to Ramirez, considering their workload and actual responsibilities, EOs should be enjoying a higher compensation because an EO position is equivalent to that of a Division Chief or Heads of Offices, which has a minimum 24 salary grade.

A Clerk I position in the COMELEC only has a Salary Grade level 3, while in other government agencies the prevailing SG level for Clerks is SG 7-9, Ramirez said.

“It is for this reason that we are strongly urging the COMELEC En Banc to exercise its fiscal autonomy and decisively bridge the unjust salary gap affecting the entire COMELEC work force,” he said.

On October 27, 2011 the COMELEC Wage Fight!Alliancewill hold an employees forum to reiterate their call for the adjustment of their salaries. Ramirez said they will also use the occasion to drum-up their opposition to budget cuts. ###