ONE of the major programs of Peso (Public Employment Service Office) offices nationwide is the conduct of the yearly Special Program for the Employment of Students (Spes).

Every year, Peso heads are advised to entertain student applicants, from age 15 and above for the 22-day summer hire.

In 2012, as in previous years, Peso Mabalacat accepted some 1,400 plus applications.

For 2013, citing budgetary constraints, GSO chief Dionisio S. Magbalot, Jr., who is also the Internal Control head, directed Peso Mabalacat to peg the quota at 670 for the 60 percent category, meaning, students included in this category would receive some P2,496-P3,300 compensation, depending on the number of days of service rendered. The other categories are the Dole-Lgu group and the 100 percent Lgu-financed group. No problem there, as long as the student entrants comply with the documentary requirements of both the Dole and the LGU.

For 2013, however, Mayor Boking Morales imposed another requirement: only those certified by the Punong Barangays (at 24 per barangay) of the students would be included in the selection, qualification and inclusion in the payroll. This started a problem or dilemma: walk-in student applicants are not given the Chinaman's chance of being included in the year's batch. For reasons known only to him, Tabun Punong Barangay Rannie de Leon reportedly did not certify for inclusion the students coming from, or living in Xevera or Fiesta Communities, rationalizing that only the poor but deserving students can be certified for inclusion in the 2013 Spes. Fine, but some big barangays like Dau and Dapdap submitted entrants exceeding the figure set by Mayor Morales, which is 24 and from there, problems did exist.

When the payroll was finally activated last Thursday, June 20, chaos and confusion reigned. There were those left out of the payroll sheets for various reasons, names were misspelled and the Coordinator had to certify that they represent one and the same person and requested that her or his salary be paid by the Treasurer's Office. To the credit of this office, particularly Myrna Ocampo and Marlene M. Mendiola, with the concurrence and approval of Jun Magbalot, the payroll was paid much earlier that the previous years and for this feat, the students who received their salaries were profuse with thanks.

Not so with those, for some reason or another, mainly clerical I surmise, whose names were not included in the payroll! One hypersensitive staff of Jun Magbalot went to the Peso office and harangued ceaselessly, blaming the staff for the sloppy work done on the students' payroll. Another office head even suggested that complaints be filed with the Civil Service Commission, only because her nominee was not included in the payroll. The GSO staff member who is known to have a doctorate degree in voucher repair did not show respect to the office head, despite her being related to him by sanguinity. She should have shown some civility and respect, not necessarily for the person but to the office he represents! Well, I should understand because she is known for being arrogant and snobbish, perhaps, for her having amassed wealth by the nature of her work.

Such is this thankless job of shepherding summer hires. Out of the almost nine hundred student participants, perhaps only two said "Thank you".

*****

Almost a day to a year today, I suffered my first mild stroke. I was confined at the Mabalacat District Hospital from June 25 to 29, 2012. Good friends supported me during my confinement, topped of course by Mayor Boking Morales who would rather see me alive and kicking and can write well. Today, I live by the encouragement of friends who still believe in my competence like Rosan Paquia, the City Administrator and Local Civil Registrar Victor Terry Medina. The others, like Alex Dy Reyes, Dr. Oscar Aurelio, Engr., Rey Liwanag and even Atty. Francis Dimaliwat and my brother Perry Pangan are always there to be depended upon. Some simply want me to vanish and vacate my present position and replace me with their own.