Politics not reason for abolition of position: mayor

BANTAYAN Mayor Arthur Despi has denied the allegation that he singled out for political reasons the town’s former supervising administrative officer when the Municipal Council revoked the 2017 ordinance creating the position with a salary grade 22.

“It (my argument) is in the resolution. Nganong ma-political reason nga wa man siya mulansar (Why did it become political when she didn’t run for office)? Iya ra g’yod ng (That’s her) argument. Iya ng (It’s her) assumption,” Despi said, referring to the formal complaints Katrina Kaye Kowalik filed before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019.

Kowalik filed administrative and criminal charges against all the town’s elected officials for abolishing her plantilla position.

She accused them of conduct unbecoming of a public official, grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, oppression, neglect of duty and violating rules on government reorganization.

She was hired as public information officer (PIO) before she was appointed as the town’s human resource management officer during the previous administration.

Kowalik was on maternity leave when Despi assumed office on July 1, 2019.

On Sept. 18, 2019, eight days before her scheduled return to work, she learned that her position had been abolished by the Municipal Council.

She attached a copy of the ordinance revoking the ordinance that created her position.

She said that of the town’s 132 plantilla positions, two of which were newly created, she was singled out. Kowalik was transferred to the Municipal Research and Learning Center.

However, Despi said the abolition of the position was to rationalize the Municipality’s expenses, adding that the position of supervising administrative officer is only meant for highly urbanized cities.

“When they created it, they executed it even if there was no opinion of the Provincial Board (PB) yet. The opinion of the Finance Committee of the PB is there should be reclassification by making it assistant department head under the salary grade of 18. Find me a town PIO whose monthly salary is P58,000,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

“In fact, the Municipal Council of Bantayan, last May, after the elections, were asking for an opinion on how they could execute the order of the PB to reclassify it since there is still someone occupying the position,” he said.

When he assumed office, Despi issued two executive orders (EOs).

His first order directed all department heads to explain their functions, submit their organizational structure and lay down all the work they had done, including that of their subordinates.

He said around 80 casual and job-order employees became regulars or were promoted and the Municipality ended up paying P8 million monthly for their salaries.

“I have to find ways to ensure that the town has efficient and effective manpower to deliver basic services. My second EO was adopting the memo of the President to avoid paying overtimes. There was one employee who was receiving P18,000 a month in overtime. So what was that person working on during the weekdays?” Despi said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

He also denied Kowalik’s allegation that she had already been replaced when she reported back to work on Sept. 26.

“It’s not true what she said that someone else was occupying her position when she returned to work because she was designated by the mayor who is not the mayor anymore. The PIO, as much as I know, is a coterminous position,” Despi said in a mix of Cebuano and English. (WBS)