Exodus of personnel may hurt PAGASA operations

Posted at 07/11/12 4:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A storm is again brewing inside the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) with the impending exodus of its workers who are seeking better economic opportunities overseas.

According to Ramon Agustin, president of the Philippine Weathermen Association (PWEA), many PAGASA employees are opting for an early retirement or seeking job opportunities overseas after the General Appropriations Act of 2012 suspended the Magna Carta benefits since March of this year.

“With their present take home pay minus the Magna Carta benefits, they hardly live a decent life much less cope with day to day survival," Agustin said in a statement.

Agustin fears that if the exodus situation worsens, the state weather bureau's service efficiency could be severely affected.

"The country would be courting danger if we allow inexperienced technical workforce to run PAGASA," he warned.

There have been alarming reports, he said, that PAGASA employees fail to report for work due to lack of money for transportation. He added employees' limited resources are alloted for their family's food.

He maintained that PAGASA's investments in terms of modern equipment and facilities may no longer be that vital once the agency continues to lose experienced personnel.

Meanwhile, Malacanang on Wednesday clarified that the benefits--the hazard and longevity pay--were only suspended pending availability of funds.

“Hindi po ito tinanggal, unang-una. Pangalawa, sinuspindi lang po ito pending the availability of funds dahil nagkaroon po yata sila ng funding problem from last year,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Valte said the Department of Budget and Management is now addressing the issue.

“So ngayon po nasa Department of Budget and Management na po at ina-assess ‘yung magiging savings nung ahensya para po doon sa mga hazard pay for March onwards,” Valte said.

She claimed the PAGASA employees have assured the government that they will not leave the agency nor hold protest actions against the administration.

“Sabi po noong presidente ng unyon, ‘yung Weathermen Association, na nag-assure po sila na wala naman po silang, una, balak mag-strike, wala po silang balak umalis,” she claimed.