Only 1 gov’t geologist in Region XI

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 April) – The government has only one geologist assigned in Region XI, an area prone to natural disasters, Director Leo Jasareno of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said in a press conference here Monday.

Jasareno said that in the last 3 years, only 86 of the country’s 160 geologists were left. He said the mean reason for the exodus is the low pay the government offers in contrast to the huge salary they could earn if they work with mining corporations.

“The government only pays our geologists Php30,000 but the corporate firms offer three to five times more than what we can afford,” he said.

“Right now, we cope with the lack of human resource, especially in this field by outsourcing. Kaya lang, wala rin kaming mahanap (but we can’t find any),” he added.

MGB’s Beverly M. Brebante is the lone government geologist in Region XI.

“Kanyang utos, siya rin ang gumagawa (She implements her own orders),” Jasareno said of Brebante’s as the region’s only expert in the geology profession.

Brebante used to work in Region X but later asked to be transferred to Region XI. She obtained her license in August 2005 after hurdling the Geologist Board Examination where 39 out of 50 examinees passed.

MindaNews tried to reach Brebante but was told by MGB XI that she had already left for Compostela Valley.

In a phone interview, Wilfredo Moncano, officer in charge of MGB XI said that the region needs seven geologists and a division chief.

Asked what action should be taken to encourage the geologists to work with the government, Moncano said they have been pushing for salary rationalization under Executive Order 366.

He said EO 366 would have increased the pay of their employees. “But as of now, the increase is still pending at the Department of Budget and Management.”

He added that another alternative is to send scholars to state universities that offer geology courses.

He said MGB XI expects to absorb the sole scholar enrolled in geology who will graduate in March 2012.

“We also have five mining engineering students who are incoming seniors of the 5-year course. We are really looking forward for them to join us,” he said. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan/MindaNews)