August 16, 2000
ANTI-LAY-OFF DA EMPLOYESS RALLY
EMPLOYEES of the different agencies under the Department of Agriculture (DA) today bared their plans to stage massive protest actions to stop the imminent termination and dislocation of more than 20, 000 employees under the Reorganization program of the DA. In a Press Conference held at the picketline of the striking National Stud Farm employees, the employees, represented by the National Federation of Employees Associations in the Department of Agriculture (NAFEDA), announced that they will stage a big protest rally wherein, thousands of their members shall join, on August 17 in time for the deliberations of the budget on Agriculture. The said rally will start at the DA office in Elliptical Road and to culminate in a march rally at Congress.
NAFEDA President Ronel Abila said they will not give the government officials the liberty to use the non-inclusion of agencies attached to DA in the proposed 2001 National Budget. According to him, this was exactly what happened to the National Stud Farm (NSF), whose budget was allocated for only until the first quarter of this year. As a result, the employees have not received their salaries for the past 5 months and are now told that their agency is up for abolition, concretizing what the employees fear that they are to lose their jobs. The NSF employees have been on strike since August 1.
Moreover, Abila stressed that there is an on-going reorganization program in the DA aimed at bringing down the number of employees to half. This means that more than 20,000 employees are now threatened with unemployment. Abila added that even in the absence of a law, the Reorganization plan is being implemented through Secretary Angaras Administrative Orders (AO) Number 20 and 24. Under the program, agencies such as the Cotton Industry Development Authority (CIDA), Bureau of Post Harvest (BUPHIRE), National Tobacco Administration (NTA) and Livestock Development Council (LDC) will be abolished; The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is to be privatized; the functions of the Bureau of Animals Industry (BAI) and the NSF are to be integrated; and other agencies shall be devolved or merged. Earlier, the National Food Authority (NFA), formerly an attached agency of the DA, was transferred to the Office of the President (OP) to facilitate plans for its privatization.
"The bottom line is to streamline the agriculture personnel in preparation for the World Bank (WB)-proposed Department of Rural Development wherein the Agriculture, Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Departments are to be merged into one superbody. Right now, the other two Departments are also undergoing reorganization. Ultimately, more than 65,000 employees shall be left unemployed and dislocated".
"This we shall not allow to happen. We have already firmed up plans to oppose reorganization and to defend our jobs. If we are to strike like our NSF employees, we shall not hesitate. We might even bring our picketlines at the Agriculture Office to make Secretary Edgardo Angara realized the folly of his reorganization design". #