Aug 022013
State weather forecasters on Friday renewed their call for the release of their long-overdue benefits worth about P40 million that have been pending since last year, a television report said.

“Kaya nakapagtitiis kami, alam naming within that span [of time] wala kaming makukuhang benefits, however, after nung June we expect na makukuha na namin dahil naiutang na po namin,” Mon Agustin, head of the Philippine Weathermen Employees Association (PWEA), said in a report on GMA News’ “24 Oras.”

The report said two PAGASA employees had died without receiving their cash benefits. One of them, identified only as 64-year-old Lola Baby, died from stroke at the agency’s comfort room, while a PAGASA weather observer, Mike Lariza, had succumbed to cancer.

“Pambili niya sa gamot niya [yung perang makukuha]. Siguro hindi na rin niya masustentuhan [ang pagbili ng gamot] dahil nga halos walang take home ‘yun, P1,500, at ang ATM niya naman nakasangla,” said Noli Lopez, Lola Baby’s cousin, in the same report.

Aqustin said Lariza could have discovered his cancer at an earlier time if only he had received the promised benefits.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had promised the release of P39.5 million fund that would cover the unpaid benefits of PAGASA employees August last year.

The television report noted that only about a third of PAGASA’s 900 employees have health cards, which they have paid voluntarily.

“Baka mamaya sumunod na ako sa dalawang ‘yan, because of the pressure. Ang gusto lang po sana ay pagrespeto sa aming ahensya. Because we are really working… We are dedicated people,” Agustin said.

Malacañang had earlier promised that the benefits will be released soon as the DBM is just ironing out some details regarding the recipients.

The delayed release of the benefits, as well as low salary, has been blamed for the brain drain hounding the agency

Last June, then-PAGASA head Nathaniel Servando resigned from his post to teach in a meteorology school in Qatar. Recently, another weather forecaster, Ricky Fabregas, left to take a job in Congo. Rouchelle Dinglasan/KBK, GMA News

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