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Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto. (Photo from Pasig PIO)

Pasig expands city health department

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“In my opinion, the most important part of [implementing] universal healthcare (UHC) is our workforce or human resources (HR),” said Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto as he disclosed the local government’s progress in the UHC initiative, according to a report by Manila Bulletin.

“Kahit anong ganda ng pasilidad, health center, equipment, o information technology (IT) system natin, kung walang sapat na tao ay balewala ang lahat (No matter how good or improved our facilities, health centers, equipment, or IT systems are, if there are not enough people, these are all in vain),” Sotto remarked during the week’s flag raising ceremony on Monday, Sept. 19.

The mayor noted their efforts in increasing the local government’s capacity and health services such as employing more qualified healthcare workers.

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In order to accommodate these changes, the city’s main health arm was expanded – turning the city health office (CHO) into the city health department (CHD). The CHD bears the primary responsibility in strengthening preventive healthcare in the city.

Among the accomplishments the local government has achieved so far were the improvement of health centers, the construction of the mega dialysis center, and the accreditation of Philhealth in many facilities and its adoption of the “no balance billing” initiative.

“Makikita nating hindi pa at malayo pa sa perpekto, ngunit malaki na po ang progreso. Sa pangunguna ng CHD at buong healthcare sector sa LGU natin, nangunguna po ang Pasig sa maraming criteria at benchmarks ng UHC (We can see it is still far from perfect, but our progress has been great. Led by the CHD and our whole healthcare sector, Pasig City ranks first in many criteria and benchmarks of the UHC),” Sotto said.

Human-centered local governance

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Sotto said the workforce is equally essential in a well-functioning local government overall.

Throughout Sotto’s terms, the local government has opened the application process and made efforts to regularize city hall employees.

From July 2019 to April 2022, 2,397 city employees have been regularized, 1,097 of these have served the local government for 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile, 556 employees have served for 15 to 20 years, and 304 were working for the city for more than 20 years.

Around 440 casual employees, mostly healthcare workers, were granted permanent employment status.

Some 5,783 other people were promoted and 152 job order (JO) employees were given retirement benefits.

As of Sept. 19, Sotto announced there have been more or less 16,000 applications being processed by the local government’s HR department. These include new and promotional applications.

“Ang ginagawa po natin para mapaganda ang serbisyo ng ating pamahalaan, para mapalakas ‘yung tinatawag nating ‘merit-based bureaucracy,’ dumadaan sa tamang proseso, walang palakasan (What we are doing to improve the services of the local government, to strengthen what we call a ‘merit-based bureaucracy,’ is to undergo the right processes, no politics involved),” Sotto said.

“Tinitingnan natin [ang mga] kwalipikasyon, integridad, karakter, at ang track record (We look at their qualifications, integrity, character, and track record),” he added.

The HR has hired 30 additional personnel to process the applications. The increase in the number of staff, he said, may hopefully help reduce the backlogs in the next two months.

Complimentary to the regularization and hiring processes, the local government has also increased the salary grades of its employees in various sectors.

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