happy thoughts and worthy causes

Archive for January, 2020

Of Core Hours and Flexitime

Recently, the Civil Service Commission issued an advisory reminding all government agencies to impose and monitor the core hours of its offices in ensuring performance of their public service duties to the public. This includes ensuring that the 40-hours per week work requirement is fully rendered by each government employee.

CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, Series of 2019 was then issued directing agencies to formulate their internal rules in the implementation of flexitime with the approval of the head of the agency. What is required is that the public is assured of continuous services from 8AM to 5PM, including lunch breaks. Nonetheless, agencies may consider extending their frontline service hours before 8Am or beyond 5PM, and even opt to consider Saturdays and Sundays as regular workdays provided the employee is able to avail of a the mandated 2-rest days per week.

RA 8972 or the Solo Parents Act

In 2014, pursuant to a directive to review the availment of benefits under the Solo Parents Act, the Policy Development and Planning Bureau (PDPB) was tasked to conduct a survey on flexi-time work schedules and this resulted in a policy paper referred to the Human Resources Management and Development Bureau (HRMDB) for consideration of the Secretary. This effort was also fully supported by the Gender and Development – Technical Working Group (GAD-TWG).

This policy was eventually reiterated in the April 11, 2017 Memorandum from the Secretary signed by then DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo implementing a FULL flexitime schedule for DSWD Central Office employees.

The previous DSWD Management then considered the Solo Parents Act of 2000 or Republic Act No. 8972 which specifically grants Solo Parents a “flexible work schedule”. To wit:

“This refers to the right of a solo-parent employee to vary his/her arrival and departure time without affecting the core work hours as defined by the employer.

The employer shall provide for a flexible working schedule for solo-parents, as long as it shall not affect individual and company productivity.”

GAD Gender-Sensitive, Women-Friendly Policy

Besides the clear provision of the law under RA 8972 otherwise known as the Solo Parents Act which employers are bound to grant their workers whether in the private or public sector, the general sentiments gathered from the DSWD employees is that a “sliding” or full-flexitime is most favorable as working hours for single parents and DSWD staff who are serving as primary caregivers of sick, disabled, or ageing family members. With this arrangement, they are able to take care of their family members and fulfill their familial duties without compromising their office responsibilities. It must be remembered that the DSWD is also primarily tasked to monitor the implementation of the Solo Parents Act as Chair and convenor of the Special Review Committee (SRC) of RA 8972, in addition to the fact that it is incumbent upon it as an employer to grant said benefit. As such, the DSWD GAD-TWG has consistently claimed this as a gender-sensitive, if not women-friendly policy of the Department.

Heavy Traffic and Problematic Public Transport

CSC Chairperson Alicia R. Bala, a former DSWD Undersecretary and GAD Champion, rationalized the issuance of the CSC Memorandum Circular No. 25, S. 2019 as “part of the government strategies to address traffic congestion” and this “flexibility in the daily work schedules is a way to spread the volume of people on the road, especially during peak hours”. And admittedly, most of DSWD rank-and-file employees are daily commuters and have to contend with the difficulties of public transport from Monday to Friday. Not all of them are able to catch the very few DSWD shuttle services provided to the employees, and only DSWD officials have assigned service vehicles and are provided Representation and Travel Allowance (RATA). It makes sense for the DSWD management to adopt policies that are considerate of employees’ welfare and interest, and not impose restrictive rules which will make it more burdensome for everyone.

Note that for most DSWD employees, they understand that the nature of true development work requires them to render more than the daily 8-hrs or 40-hr workweek, oftentimes sacrificing personal and family time just to be able to do their job. The government is never “cheated” out of the CSC-required working hours by DSWD employees because most of the time they already render service over and above the call of duty and beyond the regular office hours.

Drift

DRIFT

 

They say you read like a good book,

Strangely satisfying, worth one’s while

Fun and entertaining,

Worth having in one’s life.

 

Somehow, some time later

Your company isn’t enough anymore,

Compelled to have your own friends,

To sleep in different bedrooms.

 

Short of living separate lives;

Quiet “Me” times seem more important

Than quality couple bonding moments,

We have lost “Us”…

 

Wondering if you still

Want to be with each other,

Hoping against hope

That you can still be together…

 

 

GTPL 1/11/2020

 

Advocacy

ADVOCACY

 

Why did I do it?

I had no choice

I was escaping an unhappy situation

And was dealt that unlucky hand.

No one else would take it,

So the assignment fell on me.

 

It was awful, quite problematic

Got a full dressing down on my second week,

So I made the most of it,

Because one must bloom

Where one is planted, after all

 

Started with baby steps,

Small bites of each daunting task,

Until little changes began to matter.

And before you know it,

The world has already changed

For the better….

 

 

GTPL 1/9/2020

Of Prospects and Passions

Of Prospects and Passions

We started from zero

Nay, we began at a negative!

From chaos and confusion,

Nothing to show for,

Yet full of promise.

Armed only with prospects and passion,

We embarked on an adventure.

 

Faced with overwhelming odds,

No one expected much;

And truthfully, fear set in

Many a times.

Afraid, but we valiantly soldiered on,

Heroically doing our best,

Believing In earnest,

That things will get better

As they soon did.

 

GTPL 1/9/2020

Lost in Space

LOST IN SPACE

 

It goes beyond the blank spot on the bed

When you start missing someone

Who is still beside you.

 

It’s not the empty seat next to you,

But the deafening silence in the car

During long drives or caught in traffic.

 

It’s more than skipping a few meals together,

It’s the conversations which have suddenly stopped;

When “gone” comes before the actual leaving.

 

It’s when that unique connection has disappeared,

Replaced by a distance too large to bridge.

And in its place, a vacuous space

Where your memories should have been.

 

GTPL 1/6/2020

 

Friend or Foe

Friend or Foe

 

I cannot recognize you

For what or who have become

Your failure to admit

Or comprehend the implications

Of your behavior

Regardless of your motivation.

 

I do not question the change;

Accept and understand are the only options.

But I worry about the consequences

As the saying goes,

“there are no permanent friends, or enemies..”

 

Who have you chosen to be?

 

 

GTPL 1/6/2020

Move

MOVE

 

To be lonely even with someone

To feel lost even when you haven’t lost your way

We grasp at straws,

The gathered bundle of which

Comprise the small details of a life.

 

To be told to keep moving

To take those little steps everyday

One foot, and then the other,

Trudging purposefully, or aimlessly,

It no longer matters.

 

So just go through the motions

Head down, under the radar.

Striving to endure and persist,

Believing this too shall pass,

Praying Karma comes sooner than later.

 

GTPL 1/6/2020

Echoes and Whispers

There are things which we do not speak of;

Mere echoes of our past troubles and heartaches.

Yet these are the thoughts which consume our days,

Feeding the speculations in one’s mind,

Regardless of their truth or not,

Festering in your soul, smothering whatever

Good faith you were once able to extend.

Bad faith and suspicion now abounds;

Where did it start? Where did it come from?

Or has it always been there?

Gnawing at you, the voices you hear inside your head,

Whispering malice and falsehoods.

And in a flash of anger, a slip of an unguarded moment,

Gone are the usual niceties and all are revealed

For who they really are.

And so it seems that comfort and convenience supercedes all,

Becoming but reflections of greed and avarice.

 

GTPL 1/5/2020

Storm Surge

STORM SURGE

 

You arrived inevitably like a storm,

Creeping, mysterious;

Spreading your influence as ideas,

Wave upon wave of misconceptions

Under the guise of reform or innovation.

 

You did not bother to learn or understand

before you labelled it as “inefficiency”;

You had already decided long before

you even asked the question,

Or had the chance to trust the wisdom behind the rules..

 

Worse, you judged and blamed,

Only to go back on your words,

Shifting the responsibility without rhyme or reason.

From bad to worse, you went

and from worse to worst!

Going as far as DENYING your own instructions.

 

Now here we are;

When you have gathered all power unto yourself,

You wonder at the immensity and complain about the load.

What was it really you were playing at?

To what lengths would you go to be “One of Them”?

 

GTPL 1/5/2020

A Decade in Review (2010-2019)

My last decade was spent on advocacy work I never imagined I could accomplish. In spite of some personal tumult, 2010’s highlight was my participation at the International Federation on Ageing conference in Melbourne where we floated the idea of proposing a UN convention on elderly rights. 2010 also marked a major gain for the Filipino LGBT Community when the Supreme Court sided with Ladlad and finally granted us the right to run as a Partylist. But the best of 2010 was the passage of RA 9994 which we worked on for 3 yrs just to improve availment of benefits by senior citizens, and I have to credit my valuable partnerships with other govt agencies and even the business sector for this major accomplishment. 2011 was just more work on this, fine-tuning to get RA9994 ‘online’ so to speak, with majority of our efforts focused on the Social Pension guidelines. In between, I was able to network with some local and international human rights institutions to promote LGBT rights such as that conference in Bangkok. With those little successes, came another opportunity to also help another ‘forgotten’ sector, the Solo Parents whose own law went ignored since its passage in 2000. After some meetings with like-minded individuals from within esp DSWD-STB, we pooled together some funding to conduct some dialogues and consultations at 7 chosen Field Ofcs to renew interest in the law. This led to the crafting of a policy paper and draft amendments to the Solo Parents Act. As a result, my 2012 was a whirlwind of lectures, advocacy work and travel. I was doing back to back talks and orientations on RA 9994 for seniors, the proposed Solo Parents Act amendments, and my own LGBT sector which actually gave me the opportunity for foreign travel. That March, I was part of the landmark event in Geneva when the UN Human Rights Council formally tackled the status of LGBTs worldwide through a comprehensive report that called for the recognition and protection of our human rights. Later that year, I joined fellow feminists and women’s rights advocates in ChiangMai for an Asia Pacific regional conference on the status and promotion of women’s welfare. But before the year ended, I won a scholarship to attend a prestigious seminar, the Advanced Geneva Training on the promotion of human rights at the UN level. Although marred by private upheavals, there were also positive developments in my personal life in 2012. 2013, 2014 and 2015 was just more of the various lectures, orientations, and meetings, which meant my advocacy work was always grounded and empowering for the marginalized sectors I sought to help. In 2013, together with my fellow LGBT advocates around the world, we gathered in Nepal to discuss other ways to engage the UN systems to promote LGBT rights. In 2015, I had the honor of representing the Philippines at an ASEAN conference on Ageing to address the needs of the elderly population of Asia. Always, I was thankful for those people who believed and supported these dreams, or rather, this vision to truly make an impact. Govt agencies, the business sector, LGUs and even the senior citizens themselves worked tirelessly to be on the same page, capacitating themselves to ensure faithful and efficient implementation of RA 9994. Meanwhile, Filipino LGBTs finally made their presence known in mainstream society, gaining more confidence in organizing themselves, becoming more visible in political venues and govt programs, enough to give the PartyList system another try for actual representation in Congress. During this period, everyone thought the legislative and policy-making track was an effective strategy, so Solo Parents kept pushing for their amendment, LGBTs advocated for their Anti-Discrimination bill, while the elderly sector even came up with a human rights situationer, A Multi-Stakeholders Dialogue and Policy and Legislative Agenda in 2015. All these were meant to be presented to political aspirants for 2016 campaign and national elections. At this point, I made a conscious effort to slow down and spend more time with my loved ones, although from time to time I had to drag them around with me as I do my work. From provincial tours, to barangay-level talks, to schools and media interviews, wifey and little girl accompanied me, which once prompted my daughter to quip, ‘may talk ka na naman, Dada…ano, seniors, solo parents, o LGBT?’ she was barely 6 then. My last hurrah for my sectoral work came by the passage of the Centenarians Act and the amendment to the Magna Carta of PWDs in the latter part of 2016. That same year too saw the establishment of an Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as a special mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, 3 years after our conference in Kathmandu. I was happy to see much of our work come to fruition before I left for my new post. Those 7 years were well spent and were worth the effort as I continue to see sectors benefitting from what we accomplished for them. The past 3 years of the decade I have spent with the DSWD Procurement, where most of our hard work go unnoticed and unrecognized except for complaints of delay. But my greatest frustration is that maybe I am not making much of an impact in society as I used to nowadays. I felt guilty that I was being selfish when in 2017 I focused on building up my managerial and technical skills when I pursued my Career Executive Service eligibility and Procurement Specialist certification. To my credit, I finished my CES journey in 1 year and landed on the top of my Public Procurement Specialist Level 1 class. On occasion, I am still called upon to give lectures and talks which are a welcome respite to the drudgery of administrative support work, unlike the challenge of legislative advocacy and policy devt work. I am also happy to be given the opportunity to teach, albeit only through distance learning program of UPOU, but I have discovered that I really have the knack for teaching. I closed the decade amazed at how so much was accomplished without my realizing it. I simply trudged on, working hard, persisting, insisting, gathering allies and supporters who became life-long friends along the way because they also truly believed in making the world a better place. Yet so much still needs to be done, as the Solo Parents amendment and Anti-Discrimination bills still languish in Congress even after generation upon generation of legislators have passed through its walls. I also desire to go back to my UPLB and Agribusiness roots as I have begun to take my love for animals and my belief in producing your own food seriously. I am no longer content with just a small urban garden and although my own dogs are rescues and adoptees, I would want to do more for all those strays starving and getting run over in the streets. May the Universe hear my heart’s desire and cooperate to provide me the same beautiful opportunities this coming 2020 onwards.XMAS PIC