Lanao del Sur execs, DepEd employees silent on schools division superintendent’s ouster

John Unson - Philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Only a small fraction of the thousands of employees of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Lanao del Sur want their ousted schools division superintendent (SDS) to hold on to her post, sources said Saturday.

Even mayors from Lanao del Sur were markedly silent about former SDS Mona Macatanong during the December 16 to 18 fiscal management summit in Cotabato City of local executives from across the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), presided over by Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

Lanao del Sur is a component-province of ARMM, which also covers Maguindanao and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed last December 4 the supposed retirement of the recalcitrant Macatanong in 2013 as Lanao del Sur SDS, after she turned 65 in October of the same year.

Macatanong had earlier secured a local court ruling which said she is younger than her real age, indicated in government forms she filled out when she applied as public school teacher more than three decades ago, to prevent retirement from the service.

Supporters of Macatanong had reportedly signed a manifesto assailing her replacement with a new SDS, but less than a hundred affixed their signatures to the undated document, which looked old.

No one from the mayors in Lanao del Sur expressed opposition to CA’s December 4 ruling which declared Macatanong retired from government service in 2013 yet.

Protest actions by supporters of Macatanong, mostly her relatives, began last year.

Some Maranaw local officials present in the ARMM’s Bottom Up Budgeting summit in Cotabato City this week said they recognize the December 4 CA ruling on Macatanong’s case.

"Mona Macatanong is deemed to have already reached the compulsory retirement age of sixty-five (65) by Oct. 18, 2013 and has no right to continue or prolong the tenure with DepEd-ARMM," the December 4 CA ruling stated.

The CA said the retired Macatanong is no longer allowed to continue receiving salaries and emoluments from the DepEd-ARMM.

The CA also overruled Macatanong’s assertion she is to retire on October 2016 yet by clarifying that she retired from government service in 2013 based on documents obtained from the education department.

Teachers in Lanao del Sur told reporters only a few provincial employees of the agency, among them some principals, have openly been supporting Macatanong, who has been defying orders for her to vacate her post.

“Most of them are her relatives. Understandably, Maranaws have a very clannish culture. Majority of teachers in Lanao del Sur do not join their protest actions,” a Maranaw local executive told reporters in Filipino, while in Cotabato City last Thursday.

The small faction of DepEd-Lanao del Sur employees supporting the retired SDS have overtly been criticizing for about a year now ARMM’s regional education secretary, John Magno, for initiating reforms in the leadership structure of the department in the province.

Representatives of Lanao del Sur to the 24-seat ARMM Regional Assembly approved Hataman’s designation of Magno as regional education secretary last month via a confirmation process unaffected by the controversy.

Magno has been functioning as full-fledged ARMM education secretary after his appointment was confirmed by regional lawmakers, among them three representatives from each of Lanao del Sur’s two congressional districts.

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