ArchivesJune 2010Prosecutors welcome PGMA order

Prosecutors welcome PGMA order


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If not for former Civil Service Commission Chairperson Karina Constantino-David’s revelation before the country’s journalists gathered in Manila for the 14th National Press Forum last Thursday,{{more}} government lawyers in Dumaguete may not have known about a new Executive Order issued by President Gloria Arroyo promoting them to the rank of regional director.

Escoreal said while the President’s order was welcome news to them, he emphasized that they had nothing to do with the Order’s creation.

Executive Order 883, issued by the President on May 28, 2010 and transmitted to the Civil Service Commission on June 11, 2010, gives the rank of Career Executive Service Officer III or higher –equivalent to the rank of a Regional Director–to lawyers occupying legal positions in the government executive service.

The CESB, whose officers and members are all appointees of President Arroyo, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday,June 29–the last day of the Arroyo administration– and is expected to confirm this order from the President, David said.

The CESB is chaired by retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Bernardo Abesamis. Former Health Secretary Francisco Duque is the CESB vice-chair. It has six board members, namely Susan Solo, director IV of the Presidential Management Staff; Angelito Twano, DPWH VIII director; Susana Vargas, deputy executive secretary for finance and administration; Antonio Kalaw Jr., president of the Development Academy of the Philippines; Proceso Domingo, chair of the Philippine Overseas Construction Board; and Jairus Paguntalan, director III of the Customs Investigation and Intelligence Service.

The Executive Order is perceived by the President’s critics as another attempt to give permanent status to her political appointees and gain the favor of the officials of the Department of Justice.

David said she looks at the move as a bid of Arroyo to ensure her hold on power.

“Magulo yan (this will be messy)”, David said, as she stressed that the instant promotion of lawyers in the executive branch, no matter how low his position may be at the moment, would elevate every lawyer to the rank of a Regional Director, with the corresponding salary increase and permanent status.

“In addition to forcing the government to pay the increased salaries of these lawyers, this will also have a drastic impact on the Government Service Insurance System,” she added.

The EO said that in determining the appropriate CESO rank of the lawyer, the CESB shall be guided by the position of the officer or employee in government, academic honors and distinctions received and his rating in the bar examinations.

Malacañang Thursday said it seemed David was “reading too much” into the executive order.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said it was possible that Ms Arroyo issued the order because there was a shortage of lawyers in government service.

“The President wants to upgrade the status of lawyers in government service and make it attractive as a career option for lawyers,” Olivar said in a phone interview.
President-elect Benigno Aquino III may revoke the Executive Order on June 30 but he will not be able to revoke the rank, salary and permanence of the government lawyers.

However, a Civil Service Commission Regional Director in Luzon said that they expect the incoming Aquino administration to do something to reverse the Executive Order and its effects.

On Friday, Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s executive order conferring the third highest civil service rank to lawyers in government does not give automatic promotions and still requires application.

Agra told reporters in Manila that there was nothing irregular about Executive Order 883, signed by Ms Arroyo on May 28, as it only sought to give the career executive service officer (Ceso) rank to lawyers in the executive branch after due procedure.

“The EO is not a promotion. It’s just a conferment of the Ceso status,” Agra said.

The order, however, did not contain any specific provisions laying down requirements for Ceso eligibility and said all bar passers in government executive offices “shall initially be granted the rank of Ceso III or higher.”

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