September 20, 2021 - Monday
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Davao City, Philippines

PSALM turns over P4.31-B for backpay of laid-off NPC employees

September 13, 2021 - Monday 5:09 PM by GDM

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The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has so far turned over to the National Power Corp. (NPC) a total of P4.31 billion to cover the payment of backwages and other benefits due to nearly 2,000 former employees.

In a statement on Monday, the Department of Finance said the amount represents backpay of former employees who were retrenched in 2003 as part of NPC's downsizing as mandated under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). 

NPC started paying in February this year an estimated 1,958 claimants entitled to backwages and other benefits, in compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) ruling issued in 2017 ordering the state-run power firm to pay its retrenched employees, and the 2019 decision by the Commission on Audit (COA) giving the go-signal for the settlement of such claims. 

As of August 10 this year, NPC has already released P3.79 billion to the claimants. 

When the EPIRA was implemented almost two decades ago, many NPC employees were terminated as part of the firm’s reorganization and were given separation benefits. 

Some of the laid-off workers were rehired by either the NPC, National Transmission Corp. (Transco) or PSALM. 

The employees who were terminated included members of the Drivers and Mechanics Association (DAMA), who then contested before the SC the decision of the National Power Board (NPB) to terminate their services. 

PSALM is not a party to the case but became involved in this issue because the EPIRA had mandated PSALM to take over NPC's assets and liabilities. 

According to PSALM president-CEO Irene Besido Garcia, when the COA finally approved the settlement of the claims and validated the list of claimants, PSALM immediately raised the funding needed to settle the DAMA claims in support of the plight of the claimants who have waited for many years to be compensated. 

Garcia said it was imperative for the government to ensure that justice is served to the DAMA claimants.