Check out appointment of 'National Non-Librarian,' Ombudsman asked

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Check out appointment of 'National Non-Librarian,' Ombudsman asked
A licensed librarian has filed a complaint before the Ombudsman questioning the appointment of a non-librarian to the highest post of the National Library of the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines — A licensed librarian has filed a complaint before the Ombudsman questioning the appointment of a non-librarian to the highest post of the National Library of the Philippines.

Vernon Totanes, a licensed and registered librarian, has accused President Rodrigo Duterte of violating Republic Act 9246 — The Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003 — when he appointed Ceasar Gilbert Adriano to the post of Director IV of the National Library of the Philippines.

Adriano was appointed on March 17, 2017 and was sworn into office on April 6, 2017.

In a nine-page complaint filed last Friday, Totanes, who is also the director of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Rizal Library, questioned how Adriano was still appointed despite the law stating that "only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries.”

Librarianship is a regulated profession and schools like the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas offer library science programs.

Philippine Librarians Association Inc.: Future appointments should follow law

The Philippine Librarians Association Inc. also issued a statement of concern on the appointment.

The statement was adopted by its National Board of Trustees on May 15, 2017.

“When the position of NLP Director was vacated with the early and unexpected passing away of Atty. Antonio Santos, a lawyer and a licensed librarian, we anticipated the appointment of another licensed librarian to the position,” the PLAI’s statement read.

“While recognizing and respecting the prerogative of the President of the Philippines to appoint the person of his choice, we are deeply concerned about the implications of the appointment of a non-librarian as Director of the NLP, who may be qualified in all other respects except for what we consider the most basic one: that the appointee be a licensed librarian,” it added.

However, despite the issuance of statement with legal concerns, the PLAI clarified that they were not “questioning the appointee’s other qualifications and his capacity to be a good manager.” The association added that they were also not asking for the revocation of Adriano’s appointment nor questioning Duterte’s presidential power to appoint a director.

PLAI, however, said they are just reminding the government that RA 9246 should be observed in future appointment of directors of government libraries.

‘No one else takes the next step vs unqualified appointees’

Totanes asked the Ombudsman to investigate any act or omission of any public official which appears to be “illegal, unjust, improper, and inefficient.”  He said PLAI has turned a blind eye to the legal repercussions of appointing a non-librarian to head the National Library of the Philippines.

The complainant requested the Ombudsman to order any government body to perform and expedite any act or duty required by law. He also asked the anti-graft office to direct the officer concerned to furnish copies of documents relating to contracts, transactions, and recommend removal, suspension, fine against a government employee at fault.

Totanes told Philstar.com that his complaint has larger implications. He cited how Duterte vowed to fill the Cabinet with the best and the brightest, and that it would be patterned after the Cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Some of those who have been appointed by the President do seem to be among 'the best and the brightest,' but there are some who are far from the best and some do not even seem to be bright at all. Oftentimes, we have come to accept this as just part of the President's prerogative,” Totanes said in a letter to Philstar.com.

“We shrug our shoulders, even when the President says that it's payment for 'utang na loob'," he added.

Totanes cited that "there are instances when the law defines limitations by prescribing qualifications for prospective appointees."

"In this particular case, the law is clear: only librarians may serve as such in government libraries. Thus, the National Library must be headed by the National Librarian, not the National Non-Librarian," he said.

Totanes clarified that he is not interested in replacing Adriano or becoming a director of the National Library.

"The more important question that needs to be answered is: Why am I the one filing this complaint? Sadly, no one else—including the leadership of the national librarians' association—seems to be willing to take the next step," the complainant said.

The complainant is hopeful that more Filipinos will become aware that there are government officials who have been appointed to positions where they are unqualified.

He pointed out that the president will name replacements for the Ombudsman, majority of magistrates of the Supreme Court and the Commission on Higher on Education chair during his term.

“I hope and pray that more Filipinos will then come forward to report these unqualified officials, especially those whose appointments violate existing laws. And then, perhaps, the President will be more conscientious in appointing only those who are qualified for vacant positions,” Totanes said.

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