Stop maligning museum officials, employees toldBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Only the Civil Service Commission (CSC) may resolve questions on appointments to the National Museum, according to the chairman of the institution’s board of trustees.
In a memorandum to all National Museum of the Philippines employees dated Oct. 5, board chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr. called on those critical of museum director Jeremy Barns and assistant director Ana Labrador to “immediately desist from assailing formally or informally, or spreading false rumors or innuendoes, regarding the invalidity of the appointments” of the two.
“Evidently, their appointments remain valid and effective because of pending motions for reconsideration in the CSC. Thus, all of their acts are considered official, valid, legal and legitimate, until declared otherwise by the competent authorities,” said Del Rosario in the memo.
Rehired by new board
The CSC in separate rulings in April and May said that Barns’ and Labrador’s positions were non-career and coterminous with the appointing power, in this case former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The commission also pointed to a CSC rule that bars consultants, contractual and non-career employees from being designated to positions that exercise control or supervision over regular and career personnel.
But Barns and Labrador were rehired by the new board appointed by President Aquino. They filed a motion for reconsideration of the rulings against them, claiming, among other things, that Republic Act No. 8491 or the National Museum Act of 1998 provides that whoever is appointed to their positions served at the pleasure of the board. They also said their appointments were “primarily confidential in nature” and exempt from the CSC rule.
Barns was originally appointed to the board in the Arroyo administration while Labrador was a consultant he hired. The new board, under Del Rosario, made Barns and Labrador director and assistant director last March.
Concerned staff form group
Some museum staff, however, formed a group called “Concerned Officials and Employees” and asked Malacañang and the Department of Education, the National Museum’s mother agency, to have Barns and Labrador replaced. They said the two positions should be filled through a transparent process.
They also exposed in the media alleged irregularities in the museum, among them, the neglect which resulted in damage to the shoes and clothes collections of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos and first lady Imelda Marcos. Barns responded by issuing a memo banning museum employees from talking to the media without authorization from his office.
Del Rosario called on the “concerned officials and employees” to stop their “smear campaign,” adding that the trustees were “appalled at the effort to subvert and discredit the museum management by peddling lies and distortions, unmindful of what costs they and the museum as an institution may incur in the process.”
He said Barns and his team had been “working admirably for good governance in implementing faithfully” the policies issued by the board. He also allayed the employees’ fears.
“Towards this end, we instituted more effective monitoring and control of spending of public funds, and enhanced mechanisms for the gradual, if not total, elimination of inefficiency, waste and unethical, corrupt and anomalous practices,” Del Rosario said.