DENR employees protest vs Gina
The grumblings of a group of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) employees fed up with sudden personnel revamps implemented by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez erupted during a lunchtime protest rally on Friday.
Black-clad employees of the DENR, mostly from the Human Resource Development Service (HRDS) office, gathered outside the department’s main office to express support for two HRDS officials facing transfer after being blamed for the disapproval by the Civil Service Commission in March of the appointment of Lopez’ hand-picked undersecretary Philip Camara as Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Penro). Some employees at the rally bore placards asking for Camara’s ouster.
The employees were particularly incensed by a draft order transferring HRDS director Rolando Castro and Personnel Division chief Miriam Marcelo to other positions.
One of the reasons Camara’s appointment for the Penro post was disapproved by CSC was because Marcelo did not sign it as required by civil service rules. Penro is a permanent plantilla position.
According to the employees, Marcelo’s refusal to sign the appointment of Camara was what prompted Lopez to draft an order transferring them to other posts.
The CSC cited Camara’s lack of civil service professional eligibility, a qualification for the post, for the disapproval and his lack of supervisory and managerial training. Camara was formerly president of the Philippine Biochar Association, a company engaged in minesite rehabilitation.
“The disapproval of the appointment of someone with no civil service eligibility was blamed on HR, particularly on our director and personnel chief. When did the lack of eligibility become HR’s sin?” a statement from the employees read.
“To our Secretary. You know what is right and wrong. Where is the social justice that you have been talking about?” the statement added.
The statement was being read by DENR employee Dada Cendana when Lopez arrived.
Taking the microphone, Lopez assured the employees she has talked to the employees’ union and said there was a “miscommunication” and “misunderstanding of the situation.”
She assured DENR employees that there would be personnel removals or transfers until the employees “understand and agree.” “They have inputs on who’s gonna be put there, Lopez said.
The HRDS employees, however, were unimpressed, noting Lopez had made the same commitment on Thursday, and yet signed the order calling for the HRDS officials’ transfer. The order was not executed only because it was not “barcoded” or finalized yet, the employees said.
Should Lopez go back on her word, the employees warned of bigger protest rallies.
Lopez has also drawn the ire of media practitioners after she told a BusinessWorld reporter “You’re just a f*cking employee” during an ambush interview at the DENR on Thursday.
The cursing incident was even echoed by DENR employees during their protest on Friday, as they taunted Lopez with signages saying “We’re not just f*cking employees.”
Lopez admitted she “had an issue” with BusinessWorld reporter Janina Lim and another business reporter she was with during the ambush interview at the stairway of the DENR office.
“They always ask questions and they always have their minds set a certain way … even if I talk about social justice, their dedma mind is always like this. So I get inis eh,” Lopez admitted.
The reporters had asked Lopez for her reaction to complaints against the P2 million trust fund she was requiring suspended mining firms to put up before they can remove their stockpiles from their mine sites.
Asked about the incident, Lopez said: “Their question was not to find out the truth, their questions were to make harass. So I got inis. Having said that, there is no excuse for losing your cool,” Lopez said.
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