4 ex-tax mappers demand overdue salaries

Cebu City Hall.
Cebu City Hall.File photo

FOUR regular employees of Cebu City Hall, who have not received their monthly salaries since July 2023, are urging the City Government to release their pay.

Filomena Atuel, Maria Almicar Dionzon, Sybil Ann Ybañez and Chito Dela Cerna, former tax mappers at the City Assessors’ Office, in a press conference on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, said the issue began in June 2023 when they were “invalidly” reassigned to various offices.

They expressed confusion as to why the wages due them have not been released despite a resolution from the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Ybañez said she holds a salary grade 18 position.

Timeline

On June 1, 2023, Atuel, Diongzon and Ybañez received reassignment orders from the mayor’s office.

Atuel was asked to report to the Cebu City Anti-Mendicancy Office; Diongzon to the South Road Properties and Ybañez to the Cebu City Operation Second Chance Center. Dela Cerna, on the other hand, was reassigned to Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office.

However, due to concerns over the time shifting of their duties, including tasks and responsibilities unrelated to their expertise, Atuel, Diongzon and Ybañez appealed to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) 7 on June 16, 2023, to review their reassignment orders.

Dela Cerna submitted his appeal on June 19, 2023.

The four tax mappers reported back to the City Assessor’s Office on June 19-20, 2023.

However, Atuel, Diongzon and Ybañez said that upon their return to work, they were forced to share a single table and were not given any specific task.

In July 2023, the four discovered that their names were dropped from the payroll and their request for leave of absence was allegedly not approved by City Assessor Maria Theresa Rosell.

SunStar Cebu has yet to get the side of Rosell as of writing.

The four tax mappers sought assistance regarding their unpaid salaries from CSC 7, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Bureau of Local Government Finance and the Anti-Red Tape Authority.

Atuel, Diongzon, Ybañez and Dela Cerna received a favorable decision from the CSC 7 on Oct. 12 and Oct. 17.

In his 12-page decision, CSC 7 Director Carlos Evangelista declared their reassignment as “invalid.”

“Abi namo nga didto na mo-end ang among agony ba kay mao man tong desisyon, pero dili pa diay (We thought that it would be the end of our agony, but it was not),” Ybañez said.

On Nov. 3, 2023, Ybañez said the mayor’s office, through the City Legal Office (CLO), filed a motion for reconsideration before the CSC 7, which the latter denied.

The CLO then filed a petition for review of the CSC 7’s decision before the CSC central office on Jan. 8, 2024.

Ybañez said they sought the assistance of Mayor Michael Rama last Jan. 18. However, she said they did not receive a response from him.

They then asked for the assistance of Councilor Nestor Archival on the same day. Archival passed a resolution on Jan. 24, urging the mayor to release their unpaid wages.

Last Feb. 14, Henry Tomalabcab, head of the Human Resource and Development Office, told them that he already coordinated with the City Assessor’s Office and the CLO for the release of their salaries.

Complaint

As regular or “plantilla” employees, the four are included in the annual budget of the City Government, and their salaries are included in the city assessor’s budget.

Due to delayed payroll including other benefits, the four filed complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman for grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a public officer, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave abuse of authority (oppression) and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The respondents were Mayor Rama, Rosell, Francis May Jacaban of the CLO and four other personnel from the City Assessor’s office and the City Government.

However, Ybañez said they received designation orders last March 4, which effectively assigned them to the Office of the Cebu City Administrator headed by Collin Rosell, the husband of the city assessor.

Dela Cerna and Ybañez were designated as city project administrators, while Atuel and Diongzon were assigned as city project evaluators.

The city administrator allegedly told them on March 8 that their salaries were being processed and they had nothing to worry about.

“Karon nga ni-April na, wala gihapon. Dili na g’yud ni mao (Now that it’s already April, and we still have not received our salaries. This is not right.)

SunStar Cebu tried to call the city administrator for comment on Tuesday, but he declined as he was in a meeting. / EHP

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