Davao City hailed for “best” HR practices
By Arvin Yana
Davao City (13 January) -- Human resource executives from the government sector have hailed as innovative and replicable the practices employed by the Davao City’s human resource management office (HRMO).
The city government, which employs more than 9,000 Davaoeños, is one of the biggest local government units (LGUs) in the country.
Around 30 HR managers from selected local and national government units nationwide were unanimous in praising Davao City’s personnel acquisition, development and maintenance practices as presented by its HRMO chief Marcelino Escalada Jr at the Human Resource Development Symposium/Workshop held at the Grand Regal Hotel last week (Jan 6-7).
The gathering was organized by the Philippine-Australian Human Resource Development Facility (PAHRDF), a special project of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), in cooperation with the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).
Picked by PAHRDF facilitators as one of the symposium panelists, Escalada said 60 percent of the city’s P2.1-billion budget in 2004 went to salaries, professional fees and honoraria of 9,118 total personnel complement including contracts of services and voluntary services. Only 2,929 of this number however are plantilla personnel.
“This very high number of jobs generated, regardless of status, reflects the city government’s top concern of providing work to its constituents,” said Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza, Executive Director of the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) in reacting to Escalada’s presentation. “It also reflects the level of importance the city is giving to this particular office.”
But Lourdes Homecillo, head of National Statistics Office- General Administrative Department in Manila, expressed concern that Davao City might sacrifice some of its social services and infrastructures if most of its budget goes to personnel services.
Escalada said the city carefully plans its budget investments to cater to all aspects of services.
HR benefits of 911
Mendoza mentioned as worth duplicating the establishment of the city’s Central Communication and Emergency Response Center or Central 911 which has employed 133 Davaoeños after it was launched in 2003. Central 911 is only the third emergency response helpline in the world of its kind, next to the United States and Canada.
HRMO as a department
Participants also lauded the creation of HRMO as a department, up from a section, in the city government’s present structure.
“Davao City shows that HR offices can also be given equal importance with other departments, unlike most LGUs in the country,” said Eddie Maslog, chief of the Human Resource Management and Development Office (HRMDO) of the Provincial Government of Bohol. Unlike the case of Davao City, Maslog’s office has yet to secure an approval from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in creating its department head position.
Escalada attributed the department status of the HRMO to the joint support of the City Mayor and the City Council, giving the office more clout to implement HRM policies.
In the workshop, participants further listed down as best HRM model Davao City’s high regard for “merit and fitness principle,” with the city mayor hiring only from the top five applicants as recommended by the personnel selection board. Escalada said this was to discourage political accommodation in the recruitment process.
Escalada also reported the termination of around 730 “ghost” employees in the city hall since his assumption as HRMO acting head in 2002.
More HR models
Other initiatives of the city government that the participants wanted to replicate were the setting up of a child-minding facility at City Hall which offers free custodial services to employees who need to take their children to work; the microcomputer-based Human Resource Information System (HRIS) which updates records of all plantilla and coterminous personnel; the character advocacy program which identifies good character traits to be exhibited by employees on a monthly basis; the 5-S program which promotes good housekeeping and systematic approach to work, and the attachment of the Public Employment Service Office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which focuses on job generation, facilitation, enhancement, job preservation.
“We take pride in being able to give total human development to our personnel through our HR programs,” Escalada said.
In a separate interview, Nora Fe Alajar, president of the Davao City Hall Employees Association (DACHEA) said rank-and-file employees have a bigger role in the city government today than ever. She said this started when a Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) was forged in 2000, providing for the representation of the employees union in the many influential committees of City Hall.
“City Hall management and the workers’ union have a very good partnership because of the many programs that are sensitive to the needs of the employees,” Alajar said.
Davao City shared similar complements with other panelists from the Municipality of Malalag in Davao del Sur and the provincial governmet of Sultan Kudarat.
In the same workshop, the Malalag municipal government, represented by Municipal Mayor Givel Mamaril, was commended for the participation of the LGU personnel in the reorganization and restructuring of the municipal government and for various local government initiatives such as revenue generation schemes and economic enterprises.
Sultan Kudarat, whose HR practices were presented by Provincial Human Resource Management Officer Ben Zamora, was hailed for giving higher incentives to its personnel (14th month pay) and a CNA where retirees can recommend replacements in lower positions, among others.
The symposium was conducted to bring together human resource managers from previous AusAID-assisted institutions nationwide and to provide a venue for discussing how to address the effects of the national government restructuring measures using human resource management principles. (Arvin Yana) [top]