National Museum employees air gripesBy Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Disgruntled employees of the National Museum are calling for the resignation of its top officials over the questionable transfer of its P300-million endowment fund to private banks.
Members of the National Museum Rank and File Employees Association (NMRFEA) also complained about the administration’s alleged harassment of employees who disagreed with their superiors, saying it had resulted in an “unprofessional atmosphere.”
In a press conference on Friday, NMRFEA vice president Joseph Garcia urged the museum’s board of trustees chaired by Ramon del Rosario, director Jeremy Barns, and assistant directors Ana Maria Teresa Labrador and Angel Bautista to resign.
The group cited the findings of the Commission on Audit that there was no proper reporting and accounting of the transfer made to Banco De Oro and the Bank of Philippine Islands. The state auditor maintained that the endowment fund, being public funds, should be managed by a government bank.
In an earlier interview with Inquirer Business, Barns said the decision to have the fund managed by private financial institutions was made in good faith, on the belief that the museum enjoyed fiscal autonomy. The board had since ordered the transfer of the funds to the Development Bank of the Philippines in compliance with the COA order, he said.
As to the harassment of museum employees, the NMRFEA wrote the Office of the President on July 25 claiming that the appointment of Labrador and Bautista as assistant directors “paved the way to their questionable acts and behavior resulting in a divided institution and discontented employees.”
Since February, the regular senior staff meeting has not been held, cutting communication lines with management. Policies were being implemented without consultation, the employees said.
The employees initiated dialogues but instead of addressing their issues, the management “resorted to harassment as a way to control and silence the aggrieved employees,” the group said in the letter.
The NMRFEA said the employees had been harassed in different ways, like having them transferred or given new work assignments, or prevented from doing field work for six months. Union leaders were also suspended from work without due process and some employees were barred from attending activities that could contribute to their professional growth.
Employees, including scientists, who had been critical of the management were also accused of committing various offenses before a fact-finding committee.
The Inquirer sought an interview with National Museum officials, particularly Barns, but was instructed to send questions through email. There was no reply at press time.