‘No CES requirement for PAO chief’

Published by rudy Date posted on January 12, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued a ruling yesterday that Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta and her deputies could keep their posts since they do not need career executive service (CES) eligibility.

Acosta asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday to set aside an earlier legal opinion requiring her and other executives of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to take the CES examination for them to become permanent.

“It is the commissioner’s opinion that for purposes of permanent appointment to the positions of Chief Public Attorney, Deputy Chief Public Attorney and Regional Public Attorney, no third level eligibility is required but only RA 1080 (Bar) civil service eligibility,” read the four-page opinion of CSC signed by Chairman Francisco Duque III and Commissioners Cesar Buenaflor and Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza.

Acosta personally submitted the CSC opinion to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who is now reviewing the DOJ opinion.

“I hope this ruling of CSC already settled the issue. We already want to move on and proceed with our public service,” the PAO chief told reporters in an interview.

De Lima said she would still consider a clarification

from the CES Board, which reportedly stands by its position that Acosta and her deputies are covered by the CES requirement and could be replaced by the Palace anytime.

“We’re studying it now. I want to know the official stand of CES Board since what I’ve been monitoring are mere media pronouncements of Attorney (Thonette) Allones (executive director of the board). I want an

official, written position,” De Lima said.

She said part of her study is to resolve which opinion between the CSC and CES Board should prevail.

But Acosta claimed that the CSC opinion should prevail since the CES Board is just an “attached and subordinate agency” to the former.

“The only office that could resolve eligibility of government officials and employees is the CSC. And its opinion is binding to all department heads,” she stressed, citing Executive Order 292.

The PAO chief also questioned the validity of the opinion of Allones, who is not a member of the CES Board.

“She (Allones) is the head of the secretariat of the board but not a member. Chairman Duque is vice chair of the CES Board so his opinion matters more,” Acosta explained.

The CES Board has eight members. It is currently chaired by retired Court of Appeals Justice Bernardo Abesamis. The other members are Susan Solo, director of Presidential Management Staff; Angelito Twano, regional director of Department of Public Works and Highways; Susana Vargas, deputy executive secretary for finance and administration of the President; Antonio Kalaw Jr., president of Development Academy of the Philippines; Proceso Domingo, undersecretary for civilian affairs of the Department of National Defense; and Jarius Paguntalan, deputy commissioner of Bureau of Customs.

Acosta also admitted that before the news came out that her qualifications were being questioned, a high-ranking official from the previous administration had already warned her.

Acosta told the weekly forum hosted by the Catholic Media Network (CMN) and Media Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that a ranking official from the previous administration warned her last Dec. 17 that there would be a bombshell.

When asked who tipped her about the complaint, she refused to divulge the identity of the person, saying that when they met last Dec. 17 she did not expect the news.

“Why are they after me? Why are they afraid of me? I am just doing my job as a lawyer, if the Supreme Court is the court of last resort, the PAO is the lawyer of the last resort,” Acosta said.

To her critics, she said, “Be afraid of God because it is written that ‘thou shall not bear false against your neighbor.’”

Former CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Emeritus Archbishop Oscar Cruz said that he understands the position of the PAO chief and that the news of her ouster would make her cry, especially since she has dedicated and remained true to her profession only to be rewarded with threats that she would removed.

So chief, congratulations. You are doing very well,” he added. –Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) with Evelyn Macairan

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