PRESIDENT Arroyo cannot sack Juan Miguel Luz as education undersecretary without cause because he is a career executive service officer (CESO) and holds a regular item in the government plantilla.
Civil Service Commission Chairperson Karina Constantino-David told PCIJ that she gave this opinion when Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita’s letter thanking Luz for his services was referred to her earlier in the week.
David said the Career Executive Service Board has taken the same position.
The opinion is contained in a letter David signed as CSC chairman and in another letter CESB executive director Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza signed. Both letters were transmitted to Ermita.
Despite this, Ermita on Friday announced Luz’s removal as education undersecretary without giving a reason, except to say it was the president’s prerogative to replace her appointees. He also said Luz will be transferred to another office, but did not say where.
Luz’s relief is believed to be the offshoot of his refusal to honor three postdated checks Malacañang had issued for the scholarship program of anti-impeachment representative Antonio M. Diaz.
David said Luz lost his CESO III rank when he left the government service in 1993. But the CESB restored this when he rejoined the government in 2002. His name appears in the masterlist of CESOs.
The Career Executive Service, to which Luz belongs, is the managerial class or the third and highest level in the group of career positions in the civil service. These public managers occupy positions above division chief level: undersecretary, assistant secretary, bureau director, bureau assistant director, regional director, assistant regional director and department service chief.
CESB records show that 6,386 positions are supposed to be occupied by CESOs, of which 3,486 are in the national government and 2,900 in government corporations. In all, there are 5,976 CESOs in and out of the government service.
However, only 39.5 percent of the more than 6,000 positions have been given to eligibles under the Arroyo administration.
CSC sources blamed this on Arroyo’s penchant for appointing non-CESOs to these managerial positions, as well as creating new items for assistant secretary and undersecretary that are now being occupied by non-eligibles.
Sources also expressed concern over the number of CESOs that have been eased out and transferred to other positions or put in the freezer to accommodate the non-CESOs appointed by the president. Many of them, however, do not hold a position as high as Luz’s.
Luz is the second CESO occupying the position of undersecretary or its equivalent fired by the president.
The first was Pag-IBIG Fund president and chief executive officer Manuel Crisostomo whom Arroyo sacked in 2002 after he opposed the suggestion to put his agency under the proposed Department of Housing to be headed by Michael Defensor.
Crisostomo had wanted Pag-IBIG excluded from the housing secretary’s control because the fund, he argued, is private in nature and should not be subjected to direct government control.
In ordering his removal, Arroyo said Crisostomo had defied her position and was not a team player.
Crisostomo, a CESO I, subsequently left the government after having put in more than 17 years of service in Pag-IBIG.