Senators question ₱21,000 salary of Phivolcs engineers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) – The ₱21,000 monthly salary of engineers in the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has become a stumbling block in hiring personnel, officials admitted to senators on Thursday.

During the Senate Finance subcommittee’s hearing on the proposed ₱729.76-million budget for Phivolcs next year, Senator Francis Tolentino asked about the 43 unfilled positions in the agency.

Phivolcs Director Teresito Bacolcol said this was due to lack of applicants.

“'Yung entry level positions namin, especially for 'yung nasa probinsya, would be Salary Grade 9 and kailangan may eligibility sila. Walang nag-a-apply kasi Salary Grade 9 is just ₱21,000. And kailangan po namin 'yung mga engineer, we have to train them for interpreting our seismic data,” Bacolcol said.

[Translation: Our entry level positions in the province are Salary Grade 9 and applicants need eligibility. No one is applying because Salary Grade 9 is only ₱21,000. And we need more engineers…]

He said the agency also has a high attrition rate because many employees would resign, transfer to another office, or retire.

Department of Science and Technology Secretary (DOST) Renato Solidum said they cannot just hire fresh graduates.

“'Yung requirement, kunwari engineer, geologist, ilang years na experience, one year experience, so hindi ka maka-hire ng fresh graduate diyan. Tapos hihingi ka ng ganoong requirement tapos ang sweldo mo ₱21,000. Maghanap na lang sila ng trabaho sa iba,” Solidum said.

[Translation: The requirements, for example engineers or geologists, need one year or several years of experience so fresh graduates can’t be hired. They’re going to ask for those requirements but the salary is only ₱21,000. They’ll look for different work.]

Tolentino said the agency should restructure to request a higher salary grade for its employees. Bacolcol agreed.

The Tolentino-led finance subcommittee approved the proposed ₱25.6 billion budget for the DOST and its attached agencies.