CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga: The state-owned Clark Development Corporation (CDC) is hounded by widespread labor and corruption problems that threaten to paralyze the entire Freeport operations or worse, result to a total shutdown.
Unimpeachable sources, in an interview with The Manila Times, warned that the situation is like a ticking time bomb that is ready to explode anytime if management would continue to ignore the complaints of the 800-strong Clark employees union, whose life insurance and medical benefits, among other incentives, were allegedly removed by the management
The source warned that CDC may suffer the fate of the Mariveles Export Processing Zone which was shut down years back because of labor problems if not immediately addressed by higher authorities.
Management, sources said, has also ignored the call of the CDC union for a renegotiation of their collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on the ground that it was a violation of Republic Act 10149.
The sources, all holding sensitive positions in the corporation, requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from the management.
In an open letter to President Benigno Aquino 3rd, concerned CDC employees vehemently protested the alleged malevolent actions and oppressive style of management of CDC President and Chief Executive Officer Arthur Tugade.
“The primary cause for indignation is people’s resentment of the so-called ‘reorganization’ of the corporation, which is evidently prejudiced, subjective and malicious in its intent. The clear intent is to favour and place a chosen handful who unwittingly and without remorse, cater to the whims and caprices of the leader that you have handpicked for Clark,” the letter said.
It said the reorganization has led to the creation of several executive positions, downgrading or dissolution of key departments, upgrading of offices to report directly to top executive an overall lack of direction and congruence to the organization’s vision and mission.
“Very overtly, the table of organization was manipulated by a ruling few, who took cognizance of only people and their perceptions of people, rather than the function and mandate of the position. Rather than form to follow function, functions were customized to gain absolute control of key operating units,” the letter further said.
Concerned employees claimed that the management’s aim is to gain absolute control to cover up the alleged rampant questionable activities under the administration of Tugade.
“Thus, the need to subjugate, ostracize, falsely incriminate and constructively dismiss innocent employees, especially people who know of the truth behind shady transactions, personal fetishes and conflicts of business interest,” they pointed out.
The letter further said that employees who participated in a recent prayer rally to air their indignation and call for action are now priority for termination.
“Very recently, a newly installed key official from Public Safety Department (PSD) has openly advanced and warned employees to avoid mingling and interaction with certain ‘red-flagged’ personnel, who accordingly are all targeted for termination,” it said.
“As early as January 2014, a witch hunt has been launched by PSD, using covert tactics to collect or even fabricate grounds to justify punitive action against some employees whom they have labelled as ‘undesirable’. Such employees are even now, mobilizing to serve as whistleblowers for the truth,” the group added.
The recent string of events, they pointed out, may be likened to a virtual demolition of the CDC organizational structure to one that will cater to the whims and caprices of the management.
“CDC is now a bastion of oppression and doubt, where a very select and elite handful are favoured. There is no longer freedom of expression, not unless one has enough conviction or desperation to brave the wrath of a vindictive management which retaliates with total moral disregard,” the group said.
“CDC is Tugade’s new playground and he is having the time of his life. Never mind the 700 families whose breadbasket is this company. Never mind security of tenure, Never mind the Labor Code,” it added.
They called on President Aquino to get rid of Tugade so that the corporation can initiate a real outcome-based strategic response to development.
They also encourage whistle-blowing to identify and convict the truly corrupt officials and their money-making schemes and charge them administratively and criminally.
But the CDC, through spokesman Sonny Lopez, denied the workers’ allegation.
Lopez admitted that the CDC has stopped paying the life insurance premiums of the workers as per advise by the Commission on Audit (COA) to first secure an approval from Malacanang.
He explained that if they proceed with the payment and Malacanang would disapprove it later, the CDC would get a disallowance order from the COA.
“That is what we are trying to avoid even if we have the money for the purpose, But rest assured that we are continuously exerting effort to get Malacanang’s approval,” Lopez assured.
As to the workers’ health benefit, Lopez claimed that it has never been stopped at all and it is still the CDC that pays for the medical expenses of the workers.
It is true, Lopez said, that the workers’ health cards were not honored anymore, but the CDC is using its provident fund to reimburse the amount spent by the workers for their health needs.
On allegations of the workers on unilateral movements and demotions of personnel and official, Lopez said that they were likewise baseless.
“Nobody has been removed from their jobs. Their benefits are still there, their salaries and wages are there,” Lopez pointed out.