Monday, August 22, 2011

Philippine Congress Media Execs Face Dismissal for Misconduct

Congress employees call for dismissal of House media execs for misconduct

By Charlie V. Manalo

Two officials and a staff of the House Media Relations Services (MRS) of the Public Relations and Information Bureau (PRIB) are facing possible dismissal from service after several employees of the House of Representatives slapped them with administrative cases before the HoR Grievance Committee and Disciplinary Board.

Facing possible dismissal for grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, gross violation of Civil Service Commission (CSC) rules and regulations, the standard operating procedures on grievance of the House of Representatives and RA 6713 and harassment are MRS Director Celine Marie Flores Buencamino, MRS officer-in-charge Lorelei Castillo and MRS writer Eduardo Galvez.

Requesting anonymity for fear of reprisal, the employees, who are all Buencamino’s subordinates at the MRS, said they are seeking the immediate dismissal of the three as the three respondents not only have violated the existing CSC rules and regulations but have also arrogantly declared themselves to be virtually untouchables, citing their close relationship with Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte.

“MRS staff (does) not have the courage to file a complaint against the Director for fear of reprisal and harassment,” the House employees stated in their complaint. “She resorts to constant politicking, bragging incessantly that she is close to the Speaker, implying that she is immune from accountability or any kind of reprimand.”

The complainants alleged they were asked to work even without a written memo because it, as Buencamino claimed, was the Speaker’s request.

“There’s the proposed Speaker’s website which concerned staff members are required to update even on weekends. Was the Office of the Executive Director formally informed of this project?” they said.

While forcing her staff to work overtime without any additional compensation, Buencamino, the employees alleged, is also guilty of habitual tardiness, reporting to her office very late in the afternoon at around 2 to 3 p.m. daily, Buencamino’s “tradition” since she became the service director of MRS.

“This work habit is not the normal office working hours of a government employee who is required to render public service at least 8 hours a day, or 10 hours of service from Monday to Thursday as in the case of the House of Representatives,” the complainants said, adding it was a clear violation of the Memorandum on Habitual Tardiness and Undertime signed by former House Secretary General Roberto Nazareno on 24 Nov. 24, 1998 and Memorandum on the Strict Observance of Prescribed Office Hours signed by Secretary General Marilyn Yap on Dec. 5, 2008 which provide that all Secretariat Officials and Employees are ordered to render at least 10 working hours a day (compressed workweek) in the office.

“We believe that this is one of the reasons why Ms. Buencamino was put on “floating status” several times during the past terms of different Speakers of the House (De Venecia, Villar and Nograles). We have been witnesses to her attitude and we are certain that this is tantamount to grave misconduct and a deliberate violation and disregard of RA 6713 and the Civil Service Rules and Regulations,” the MRS staff added.

Upon her return to MRS on the last week of November 2010 from a “floating status,” the MRS staff said they thought Buencamino might have changed for the better and promised to impose an honest-to-goodness order in the office.

“However, in just two weeks, she was at it again coming to the office at 2-3 p.m. daily, neglecting the more pressing problems and concerns of the office that needs her personal attention during the early hours of the day,” they said.

But what could have been the worst abuse on Buencamino’s part was when she reportedly left for the United States in January 2010, staying there for at least six months with no official business to do and collected her full salary for the whole duration of her stay.

Sources said Buencamino left for the US on Jan. 27, 2010 on board Northwest Fight 280 and returned to the country on July 28, 2010 on board Delta Airline Flight 173.

During that said period, Buencamino was supposed to have been detailed at the office of Sorsogon Rep. Sonny Escudero. However, in an interview with the lawmaker, Escudero categorically denied Buencamino was detailed at his office.

“I was not aware she was detailed at my office,” Escudero told The Tribune. “Maybe she was detailed at my office but she did not report. “So, I don’t have any knowledge regarding her trip to the US.”

On the case of Castillo, the complainants accused her of abusing her OIC position in the office which Buencamino allegedly tolerated.

“She is not remiss in her act to mark as absent those who were not able to sign in the logbook even if they are physically present and have rendered service religiously on their assigned tasks,” the complainants alleged. “Valid and legitimate reasoning is not accepted and she implements her own set of rules totally different from the HRep’s policy in carrying out tasks assigned to her.”

Galvez who is also moonlighting as a journalist, for his part, has been accused of harassing his co-employees at the MRS, using his column in a Filipino tabloid to attack the complainants.

Apart from using official government time to write his articles for the daily tabloid, Galvez has been accused of abusing the Authority to Engage in Limited Practice of Profession the House Secretary General had granted him.

In the conditions set forth by Yap in granting the authority for limited practice of profession, it was clear Galvez, who used the pseudonym Jeg Dizon before, was to ensure that his practice will not be in conflict with his official functions at the HOR nor that he shall practice his profession during office hours. Galvez was also made to understand that such practice should be in consonance with the existing CSC rules and regulations.

But clippings of his newspaper columns presented by the complainants reveal an incessant attacks on his co-employees which the complainants said directly or indirectly are affecting the very institution paying him which is tantamount to violation of Rule IX —Conflict of Interest and Divestment, Section 1a of RA 6713, a ground for administrative disciplinary action under Section 1(c), Rule X of RA 6713, and a desecration of the Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics issued by the Philippine Press Institute.


Mark Bantigue said...

Hi. I like the tone of your political blog. It's fresh and light yet packs a message. May I feature it on P3?

P3,, is a crowd-sourced, progressive, online Philippine news magazine that features blogs with perspectives on modern Filipino culture, progress-minded, social responsibility, environmentalism, and tolerance. All articles are submitted by bloggers and freelance writers. The only prerequisite is that the blogger/writer belong to the industry in which she/he writes; e.g. OFW writes on OFW issues, artists write about artist news, etc.

May I feature your blog post? I will provide all the necessary links and description of your blog.


Mark J. Bantigue
220 Tomas Morato Avenue
Quezon City 1103 Philippines
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Fb:    /markbantigue

Paul Farol said...

Of course.

Anonymous said...

Sir I just want to asked about the update regarding the 3 executives of House of Representative MRS-PRIB dept which is one of the article of Mr.Charlie V.Manalo..Haven't heard of it till now..Thanks so much

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