Probe on National Library appointment up to Ombudsman – Malacañang

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 31) — Malacañang is leaving it up to the Ombudsman to address issues hounding the appointment of the National Library director.

"We leave that to the Ombudsman," Roque told CNN Philippines in a text message Wednesday.

Asked whether the President would comply with an investigation, Roque said he has yet to confirm if the President saw the complaint that requested an investigation.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Ceasar Gilbert Adriano as Director IV of the National Library of the Philippines in March last year.

A letter sent to the Office of the Ombudsman on January 19 questioned this appointment, saying Adriano was not a licensed librarian.

If confirmed, this would go against Republic Act 9246, or the Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003, which provides that "Only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries."

Adriano has yet to reply to CNN Philippines' request for comment.

However, in a text message to CNN Philippines, National Library OIC Assistant Director Edgardo Quiros pointed out that the document was only a letter, and it "needs to be filed as [a] complaint" if it were to have impact.

Adriano's appointment was met with concern through a statement by the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI) in November. However, the association stopped short of demanding for a new appointment.

Related: How can a non-librarian lead the National Library?

Investigation sought on director appointment

The nine-page letter, signed by Ateneo de Manila University Rizal Library Director Vernon Totanes, requested for an investigation on "any and all liabilities-criminal, administrative, or otherwise" relating to the appointment.

It asked the Ombudsman to:

  • look into the propriety and legality of the nomination, selection, and appointment;
  • look into the process and circumstances leading up to the appointment;
  • coordinate with the Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, and Office of the President to make transparent the process for appointments; and
  • direct the institution of relevant actions or suits against officials found liable.

The letter stated the appointment set a precedent for unqualified appointments in other government agencies, local government-operated libraries, and private institutions like schools.

It also pointed out the law penalizes persons who practice librarianship without registration. Fines range from P30,000 to P100,000 or imprisoment of between one month to three years.

Practitioners should secure a Certicate of Registration and Professional Identification Card or a temporary license or permit from the Professional Regulatory Board for Librarians and by the Professional Regulation Commission.

 

The letter also said the appointment is "not only criminal, but... also a corrupt act."

It cited Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides that public officials who knowingly nominate or appoint legally unqualified persons "shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos."

It also took note of provisions in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, including "persuading, inducing or influencing" another public officer to commit violations, or "allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such."

In an e-mail to CNN Philippines, Totanes clarified he was "not interested" in becoming Director of the National Library — but he could not ignore the violation.

He said the President was set to appoint many more officials into vacancies, and he wanted to prevent unqualified persons from making the cut.

"I hope and pray that more Filipinos will then come forward to report these unqualified officials, especially those whose appointments violate existing laws," said Totanes. "And then, perhaps, the President will be more conscientious in appointing only those who are qualified for vacant positions."