THE POWER Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has transferred P4.31 billion to the National Power Corp. (Napocor) to cover the back pay and benefits of 1,958 former employees retrenched nearly two decades ago, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.
Citing a report from PSALM, the DoF said in a statement Monday that the payouts will go towards settling claims by 1,958 former workers who were retrenched in 2003 due to the downsizing program authorized by Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
PSALM, which manages the assets and liabilities of Napocor, started transferring the funds from November 2020, according to PSALM President and CEO Irene Joy J. Besido-Garcia.
However, Ms. Garcia said official records show only 893 beneficiaries have received their payouts, while the rest have yet to submit the complete requirements to process the claims.
“There are delays in the compliance with the basic documentary requirements by some claimants. Furthermore, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with some claimants residing outside Metro Manila or outside the country, there are mobility restrictions preventing them from submitting the required documentation especially considering that most claimants are in their old age,” she was quoted as saying.
For 2022, she estimated another P4.8 billion is needed to service all the claims of the Drivers and Mechanics Association (DAMA) formerly employed by Napocor’s former employees. DAMA members contested their termination before the Supreme Court.
“The P4.8-billion cash requirement will be covered by the balance of the 2021 approved supplemental budget amounting to P1 billion more or less, and prospectively by a P3.8-billion proposed DAMA budget for 2022,” Ms. Garcia said.
EPIRA was enacted in 2001 to reform the power sector and privatize the assets of Napocor. In the ensuing reorganization, Napocor laid off workers while rehiring some to work for PSALM or the National Transmission Corp.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the retrenched employees were entitled to either reinstatement or separation pay, back pay and other benefits. The court issued a resolution in 2017 to order Napocor to settle these overdue benefits and asked terminated workers to file their claims before the Commission on Audit.
The commission cleared Napocor to pay the claims in 2019. — Beatrice M. Laforga