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To: Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
Pay the 7 months delay in salaries of Bantay Gubat Rangers from Ipo Watershed
It is respectfully prayed that:
(1) an adequate and on time salary will be received by the Bantay Gubat (as of this writing, they have not received salaries for 7 months)
(2) all the lawful benefits (i.e. SSS, PhilHealth) will be received by the
(3) Identify clearly the employment status of the Bantay Gubat, if
contractual, an employment contract shall be provided pursuant to COA rules
(4) A report to be submitted by MWSS to justify the reason of
delayed salaries of Bantay Gubat, the failure to give lawful benefits, the hiring of Bantay Gubat despite no contract had been signed and the reason/s for the delay in signing the Ipo Management Plan
(5) the Ipo Management Plan and the Supplemental MOAs will immediately be signed
Why is this important?
The Bantay Gubat of Ipo Watershed are the forest rangers who roam the 6,600 hectares of Ipo Watershed to protect it against deforestation which is very rampant in the area.
While the Ipo Management Plan was still pending for approval, a
Memorandum of Agreement dated September 2014 between MWSS and DENR was made wherein MWSS agreed to hire selected members of the People’s Organizations (POs) as Bantay Gubat to assist in forest protection and anti-illegal logging operations. Furthermore, it was stipulated that the DENR will be responsible for the deputization and day to day supervision of Bantay Gubat while the MWSS, through the water concessionaires shall provide funds for the payment of their salaries. Each Bantay Gubat was hired without individual job contract which was signed by them.
Since the time they were hired, the salary that they received was delayed by almost one (1) year from the MWSS. There were also no fringe benefits such as SSS, PhilHealth and even insurances that were very essential considering their job as forest rangers involves imminent danger on their lives. Moreover, these Bantay Gubat failed to received equipments and uniforms from the MWSS that were necessary to carry out their function as forest rangers. They left themselves unarmed and defenseless patrol of the 6,600 hectares of Ipo Watershed against the high powered gun of illegal logging syndicates. In fact, sometime in May 2017, a group of 60 men armed with guns and rifles surrounded a group of Bantay Gubat when they were doing their rounds near Sitio Ilas and Sitio Lubog in Barangay Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal. Hence, it was decided by the MWSS with the help of DENR to hire additional Bantay Gubat, therefore, increased from 23 members to 91 members. However, the MWSS is still delayed in paying them their below-minimum wage salaries.
As of this writing, no TWG or even implementation of Ipo Watershed Management Plan and Supplemental MOA was done. Despite several meetings done and complaints filed before the MWSS pertaining to the delayed salary of Bantay Gubat, the problem remains unheeded and unaddressed.
Since the time the MWSS hired the Bantay Gubat, there is no individual
employment contract indicating the terms and conditions of employment as required under the Civil Service Rules and COA. In fact, even PENRO Emelita Lingat notice the same during the meeting held on December 6, 2018.
The Bantay Gubat should be paid at least once every two (2) weeks or
twice a month pursuant to Article 103 of P.D. 442 otherwise known as
the “Labor Code of the Philippines”.
The processing of salaries of the Bantay Gubat done at bulk every four months is, up to this day, a clear violation to the labor standards.
The MWSS should observe compassionate and social justice
towards the Bantay Gubat. Hence, when conflicting interests of labor and capital are to be weighed on the scales of social justice, the heavier influence of the latter should be counter-balanced by sympathy and compassion the law must accord the underprivileged worker.
In view of the afore-said policy, the MWSS had a solemn obligation to assist and provide the Bantay Gubat a membership with Social Security System, PhilHealth and other insurances considering their duties as forest rangers involve the assumption of risks.
Even the law dictates the afore-said requirements, the MWSS failed to act on that matter and neglect their duties to the Bantay Gubat. MWSS through Watershed Division failed to act on this matter and fell deaf ear to the pleas of Bantay Gubat. Moreover, MWSS failed to immediately facilitate the Ipo Watershed Management Plan which was pending for almost nine (9) years from 2011 up to the present.
The Bantay Gubat are considered as “modern heroes” as they protect the Ipo Watershed, the source of Metro Manila’s drinking water. They risk their lives so that millions of Filipino could have an adequate supply of potable drinking water. Hence, the Bantay Gubat do not deserve this labor discrimination and abuse. Without these modern heroes the deforestation in Ipo Watershed will be more rampant and most of the mountains within will be totally denuded. If this happen, there would be a water shortage in Metro Manila and millions of Filipinos will be affected especially this time of pandemic when water is essential.