EMBATTLED education undersecretary for finance Juan Miguel Luz yesterday quit the Arroyo administration, expressing concern that the education reforms that he and his colleagues have instituted would not survive because of what he described as President Arroyo’s “preoccupation with political expediency rather than genuine reform.”
Luz resigned nearly seven months after Malacañang sacked him from the Department of Education and ordered his transfer to the Department of Labor and Employment over his refusal to honor postdated checks the President’s Social Fund had issued to DepEd to fund the scholarship program of Zambales representative Antonio Diaz.
The checks were released at the height of the congressional hearings on the impeachment complaint against Arroyo. Diaz was among those who voted to junk the complaint.
Luz subsequently sued the Palace before the Civil Service Commission, invoking his security of tenure as a career executive service officer and branding his reassignment as being politically motivated.
The CSC commissioners ruled against him last Feb. 1, save for Chair Karina Constantino-David.
Luz has filed a motion for reconsideration, but it is highly unlikely that the commissioners can act on his case soon. Arroyo has not appointed a replacement for Commissioner J. Waldemor Valmores who retired in late January.
In his three-page resignation letter to Arroyo, Luz expressed no desire to be moved to the DOLE at the “president’s pleasure…for the exigency of the service — two of the most misused concepts in the vocabulary of the Office of the President.”
He said the incident involving the issuance of postdated checks reveals the little value Arroyo places on genuine education reforms and her low level of trust in the DepEd as contributing to the country’s development as a nation.
He said the incident also shows Arroyo’s high disregard for government accounting and auditing rules and regulations, and her low regard for the professionalism of the civil service and the career executive service corps.
In his letter, Luz said he considers his three-and-a-half years with DepEd as the “most important and fulfilling” in his professional life.
“I have worked with education professionals — teachers, principals and school heads, supervisors, superintendents, directors and nonteaching staff — nationwide who place great value in their work and are committed to delivering quality education despite the low levels of resources given them and the fact government worker salaries have never been raised in the five years of this Administration,” he said.
(Luz wrote Acting DepEd Secretary Fe Hidalgo a separate letter, in which he reiterated his admiration for DepEd officials and personnel.)
“My greatest regret now is that the education reforms we have worked hard to put in place may not survive given this Administration’s preoccupation with political expediency rather than genuine reform; with deal-making rather than development; as well as the lack of appreciation, much less commitment, to the rule of law and good governance,” Luz wrote Arroyo.
“Ours can never be a strong republic given this traditional approach of politics first. Ours cannot be a Government of quality if the professionalism of the civil service is constantly under siege by politics,” he said.
Luz is joining the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction.