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How CSC dismantled our merit system

04:04 AM October 23, 2019

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) is the guardian of the merit system in our country. However, it has foisted a fraud akin to removing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre and substituting it with a fake, without informing the public about it.

Our merit system is based on the structure laid down in the 1972 Reorganization Plan, which became Presidential Decree No. 1. This plan was the basis for PD 807, The Civil Service Decree of 1975. This decree restructured the career service into the Closed Career and Open Career Service. (The rules on the operation of the Open and Closed Career Services were discussed in my earlier commentary, “Civil service is back to Commonwealth era, 10/12/19”).

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The 1972 Reorganization Plan was the creation of persons with impeccable credentials, their expertise recognized abroad. Among them were Rafael Salas, Armand Fabella, Onofre D. Corpuz and Abelardo Samonte; all have advanced degrees from universities abroad. They were assisted by personnel technicians with academic background and experience in management. It took this group six years to craft our merit system. The merit structure took time to create as it was subjected to the usual stress test, subjected to simulation exercises and endless dry runs before it was submitted for implementation.

Unfortunately, this is not the merit system that is in operation today. The current merit system was crafted by Rogelio Limare, assistant commissioner of the CSC, in January 2007. The record shows he created his version of the merit system in only nine days.

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Limare had ruled that notwithstanding the provision of the Foreign Service Act that Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) personnel are “automatically and compulsorily” retired upon reaching age 65, the CSC has the power to extend the services of such DFA personnel. However, the function of the CSC is explicitly stated in the Revised Administrative Code thus: “Promulgate policies, standards and guidelines x x x to promote economical, efficient and effective personnel administration in government.” Everybody in government knows that when a retiree is extended in service, an entire promotion list (escalafon) of lower-ranking employees is prejudiced. Each extension of service of an FSSO I in the DFA delays the promotion of a least 20 lower-ranking employees.

During the deliberations in Congress, Sen. Leticia R. Shahani, sponsor of Republic Act No. 7157, stated that the provision on the compulsory retirement of DFA personnel upon reaching age 65 was to prevent the DFA from developing into a gerontocracy of overage officials. The issue, then, is: Did Limare consult the congressional record when he made his ruling? It is grave misconduct for a bureaucrat to implement the law contrary to the wishes of Congress. If Limare did not consult the records, then his action is gross negligence, given the far-reaching effect of his ruling on our merit system.

Everybody knows that if one plays basketball but subjects it to the rules of basketball and soccer, the game will end in chaos. That is now the outcome of the CSC action. Senior DFA officials with connections have received multiple extensions of service upon reaching age 65, based on the CSC ruling. However, those without connections are “x x x compulsorily and automatically retired” upon reaching age 65, as provided in RA 7157.

In any country, officials who design such an organization operating under two rules will be sent to mental hospitals. Those who vandalize masterpieces are thrown in jail. Our country is the exception to these rules. A country will not progress if, as in the instant case, it assembles its best minds and then allows the masterpiece they had created to be replaced by a counterfeit.

Congress has been informed about these violations, but unfortunately, it has not taken any corrective steps. The loss of funds through inefficiency far exceeds the loss from corruption. The loss of funds in the instant case, based on the CSC ruling, far exceeds the loss in the Janet Napoles case.

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Retired career ambassador Hermenegildo C. Cruz participated in the formulation and implementation of all the steps needed to modernize the civil service as envisioned in the Bell Report, from the 1972 Reorganization Plan to RA 2260 and PD 807. He also drafted RA 7157, The Foreign Service Act.

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TAGS: civil service commission, CSC, Hermenegildo C. Cruz, Inquirer Commentary, merit system
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