CEBU CITY -- Because their employment in Cebu City Hall is left hanging, members of the Mayor's Management Team (MMT) said they feel demoralized these days after learning some of them may be demoted, while some were given an option to resign.

An investigating body that handles administrative complaints against City Hall employees, which is composed of MMT members, will also be discontinued, and the task will be turned over to administrative officers.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The MMT members said that since last week, lawyer Jocelyn Pesquera has been interviewing them and reportedly told them they will be transferred to other offices, with some getting lower positions and less pay.

Pesquera, a former city councilor and a close friend of the mayor, also reportedly told some of them the MMT will no longer exist under the Rama administration, which did not sit well with former mayor Tomas Osmeña.

Rama was quick to appease the close to 80 employees under the MMT. He assured he will keep them and will not demote or terminate their services, and said some may even be given higher positions.

"No, I gave no instructions to demote them or tell them they should resign. I have no idea kung unsay gisulti ni Joy nila (what Joy told them) but she is just giving me ideas and guidance on human resources matters. Of course, the final decision is still mine to make," the mayor said.

Rama said he cannot stop the MMT members from having gripes, but said those who are demoralized are probably those who cannot wait for their appointments.

When he was mayor in 2005, Osmeña began hiring cum laude and magna cum laude graduates from different fields to fill up middle management posts in City Hall under the MMT program.

It was selected as one of the country's 10 best models of management by the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.

"The MMTs are the pride not only of the local government units but of Cebu as well... Joy Pesquera reportedly told them that the MMT no longer exists, that individually they would be fired or demoted if they don't resign, or something to that effect. The mayor denies it, though. So, who's the boss?" Osmeña asked Monday.

In a text message, the Cebu City south district congressman also said their party Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan campaigned for Rama to be mayor, and not for Pesquera.

Osmeña said he is not the one who should be upset by the developments, but Rama, "whose administration will suffer."

Sun.Star Cebu called Pesquera to get her side on the issue, but she declined to comment.

In a phone interview Monday, Rama explained he gave Pesquera authority to assess the strengths, skills, talents and performance of the MMT members so they can be assigned to offices where their capabilities can be maximized.

The assessment, he said, is part of his thrust to place "the right people in the right positions."

Five MMT members who were interviewed separately by Sun.Star Cebu Monday said they and their peers are in low spirits because of the uncertainty on their employment status.

"For now, it's not clear who will stay and who will be hired and if he will get our current position. Some of us were told they will be demoted. So demoralized gyud. Kami ra gud ang mga employees ang nakasulod sa City Hall not because of political endorsements, but because of our academic performance," one of them said.

They also questioned the authority of Pesquera in conducting the interviews, since she is not connected with the City Government at present.

Pesquera was a consultant on the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) systems improvement, sister-city ties and budget and finance under the Office of the Mayor, but her contract has not been renewed as of June 30.

Rama and Pesquera, who are both lawyers, specialized in human resources relations in the private sector before they joined the City Government.

"I don't think they should be questioning Joy's authority because that is my prerogative as a mayor. We don't have a specific person looking into these things, that is why I sought her assistance. And as mayor, I can choose anyone who I want to help me," he continued.

Rama said he will also change the structure of the body that investigates administrative complaints against City Hall employees, which will now be handled by administrative officers.

He said Monday that he will look into the functions of the employee-management committee on inquiry (Emcoi) before restructuring it.

The Emcoi was created as a result of a case study of the first batch of the MMTs. Osmeña created the investigating body through an executive order. (LCR of Sun.Star Cebu)