Staying within the law PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 14:11

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

 

The status right now of  Mr. Antonio Orendain,  Administrator of Zamboanga City , is a good case in point of how casually laws are complied within the Philippines. Let us recall the details of this case.

Mr. Orendain was appointed to his position by Mrs. Ma. Clara Lobregat when she became Mayor of Zamboanga City.  We can only assume that she was satisfied with his performance because Mr. Orendain stayed in his position until her death. A new mayor took over but Mr. Orendain stayed. Again, an indication that he performed well in his position. When Celso Lobregat became the newly elected mayor of ZC  he kept Mr. Orendain in his position. So did Mayor Beng Climaco when she took the helm of the city in 2013. It comes out then that Mr. Orendain has been kept as City Administrator by 4 different administrations of the city.

What seems to be the problem now?  The Civil Service Commission is questioning the eligibility of Mr. Orendain for this  position since he does not have the required civil service status that the position requires.

The Civil Service Commission is a body tasked with ensuring that persons appointed to certain government positions are eligible for the position. The original intent of this is to ensure that the merit system is applied, and that government positions do not become the dumping ground for  people who have the support of the powers –that- be in politics. We understand the good in this.

But Mr. Orendain has sat in the position for more than a decade and from all accounts has turned in performance satisfactory to the 4 city mayors he has served under. Here is the crux though of the issue :  The law on eligibility was already in force prior to Mr. Orendain’s appointment; therefore his appointment was invalid from the beginning unless he acquired that eligibility while already holding that appointment. It seems now that he did not and thus the current issue.

Some questions need to be asked. Was Mr. Orendain aware that he did not have the required eligibility and might therefore be made to relinquish his position at one time in the future?  Was the city’s legal counsel aware of the same thing?  And why were not certain actions undertaken to avoid the issue – like Mr. Orendain sitting for the required Civil Service Exams which I think he would have passed?

The preceding questions come up because  we tend to take legal requirements for granted. It is like saying, “If no one questions it then it is okay.” My own position is that  it is better to ensure, before we take  an action,  that the action is within the law rather than worry about it afterwards.

An excellent example of taking things for granted is what Pres Aquino did with Gen Purisima in the Mamasapano incident. Now Pres Aquino is in very hot water because of it.