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19 January 2018

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales


OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Ombudsman Building, Agham Road,
North Triangle, Diliman, Quezon City 1101

Dear Ombudsman Carpio-Morales:

I am Vernon R. Totanes, PhD, Director of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Rizal


Library—and a duly licensed and registered librarian, commissioned under Republic
Act No. 9246, otherwise known as “The Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003” (or
the “Librarianship Act”). I am writing to seek your help and assistance, as the
Constitutionally-designated “protectors of the people,”1 and on the basis of your
powers, functions, and duties, under Section 13 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,
to:

(1) Investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or


omission of any public official, employee, office or agency, when such
act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient.

(2) Direct, upon complaint or at its own instance, any public official or
employee of the Government, or any subdivision, agency or
instrumentality thereof, as well as of any government-owned or
controlled corporation with original charter, to perform and expedite any
act or duty required by law, or to stop, prevent, and correct any abuse
or impropriety in the performance of duties.

(3) Direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a


public official or employee at fault, and recommend his removal,
suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution, and ensure
compliance therewith.

(4) Direct the officer concerned, in any appropriate case, and subject to
such limitations as may be provided by law, to furnish it with copies of
documents relating to contracts or transactions entered into by his office
involving the disbursement or use of public funds or properties, and
report any irregularity to the Commission on Audit for appropriate action.

(5) Request any government agency for assistance and information


necessary in the discharge of its responsibilities, and to examine, if
necessary, pertinent records and documents.


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Section 12. The Ombudsman and his Deputies, as protectors of the people, shall act promptly on
complaints filed in any form or manner against public officials or employees of the Government, or any
subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations,
and shall, in appropriate cases, notify the complainants of the action taken and the result thereof. (1987
Philippine Constitution)

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(6) Publicize matters covered by its investigation when circumstances
so warrant and with due prudence.

(7) Determine the causes of inefficiency, red tape, mismanagement,


fraud, and corruption in the Government and make recommendations
for their elimination and the observance of high standards of ethics and
efficiency.

(8) Promulgate its rules of procedure and exercise such other powers or
perform such functions or duties as may be provided by law.

On 17 March 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed Mr. Ceasar Gilbert Q.


Adriano to the post of Director IV of the National Library of the Philippines.2 Soon
thereafter, the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI) issued a “Statement of
Concern” adopted by its National Board of Trustees on 15 May 2017 (the “PLAI
Statement”), raising the following concerns:

1) The [National Library of the Philippines] is considered a hallmark being the


highest government library, acting as the main repository of information on the
country’s culture. Rep. Act No. 9246, Section 31 on Employment of
Librarians states that “Only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed
as librarians in all government libraries. Local government units shall be given
a period of three (3) years from the approval of this Act to comply with this
provision.” When the position of NLP Director was vacated with the early and
unexpected passing away of Atty. Antonio Santos, a lawyer and a licensed
librarian, we anticipated the appointment of another licensed librarian to the
position. While recognizing and respecting the prerogative of the President of
the Philippines to appoint the person of his choice, we are deeply concerned
about the implications of the appointment of a non-librarian as Director of the
NLP, who may be qualified in all other respects except for what we consider
the most basic one: that the appointee be a licensed librarian:

First, the appointment of a non-librarian to the highest post in the highest library
in the country may have an adverse effect in that other government agencies
may take this as precedent to the appointment of non-librarians in their own
institutions; and

Second, since the Local Government unit heads have been accorded with a
wide latitude of discretion, the association is worried that more non-librarians
may be placed in LGU operated libraries, drawing justification from the
appointment of a non-librarian as NLP Director; and


2
Unfortunately, neither the Official Gazette web site (http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph) nor the
“Government Portal” (http://www.gov.ph) contain soft copies of the appointment papers of Mr.
Adriano. That said, there is a Facebook post on the official Facebook Page of the National Commission
for Culture and the Arts, relating to his oath-taking: https://www.facebook.com/media/set
/?set=a.10155121822040283.1073742063.147061115282 &type=1&l=fd04d8409f.

2
Third, if government itself can ignore the provisions of Rep. Act No. 9246, what
would prevent private institutions, such as schools, academic and corporations
from appointing non-librarians as heads of their respective libraries.

2) Rep. Act No. 9246 was enacted by the Legislative Department for a reason
and, we believe that the purpose for which this law was enacted will be
subverted by the appointment of a non-librarian to the position of Director of
the National Library of the Philippines.

3) Further, the association believes that a librarian as the head of the NLP is
essential for the functioning of this institution in accordance with its mandate.

Regrettably, despite the above-quoted serious legal concerns PLAI raised, they ended
the statement by clarifying that they were not “questioning the appointee’s other
qualifications and his capacity to be a good manager. We are not asking for the
revocation of his appointment. We also wish to reiterate that we are not questioning
the President’s power to appoint the NLP Director. However, we are asking that, in
the future, the presidential power to appoint directors of government libraries,
especially the National Library of the Philippines, be exercised with due regard to the
letter and the spirit of Rep. Act No. 9246.”

The PLAI Statement, sadly, is wanting—not only because words without action are
meaningless, but it seems to turn a blind eye to the legal repercussions (and
transgressions) arising as a consequence of appointing a non-librarian to the post of
Director IV of the National Library of the Philippines, that is, as the National Librarian
of the Philippines. In fact, when the vacancy for the post of “Director IV” was published
on the Civil Service Commission web site,3 among the “Qualification Requirements”
stated for the said vacancy was that the person “must be a licensed librarian.”

As previously quoted in the PLAI Statement, the Librarianship Act provides, on the
matter of “Employment of Librarians” (Section 31) that only qualified and licensed
librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries. Relevantly,
Section 26 prohibits the “Illegal Practice of Librarianship” when it states that “a person
who does not have a valid Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification
Card or a temporary/special permit from the Commission shall not practice or offer to
practice librarianship in the Philippines or assume any position, which involve


3
The vacancy was posted under “3L Publication Code 325-20160219-17 (Posted on 19 February
2016).
Director IV (1 vacancy)
Annual Salary: 812,208.00 Salary Grade: (SG 28)
Item# NL-NCCAC-DIR4-1-1998; Posting ID:6120
Place of Assignment: Director’s Office
Qualification Requirements
• Education: Master’s Degree
• Training: 120 hours of managerial training for the last 5 years
• Experience: 5 years of supervisory experience
• Eligibility: Career Service Executive (CSE)/Career Executive Service (CES)
• Others: must be a licensed librarian

http://www.csc.gov.ph/phocadownload/userupload/mlm/NLP_new_02192016.pdf

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performing the functions of a librarian as provided under Section 54 of this Act,” and
punishes such person, under Section 32:

Penal Provisions. – Any person who practices or offers to practice any function
of a librarian as provided for under SEC 5 of this Act who is not registered and
has not been issued by the Commission a Certificate of Registration and
Professional Identification Card, or a temporary license/permit or who violates
any of the provisions of this Act, its Implementing Rules and Regulations, shall,
upon conviction, be penalized by a fine of not less than Thirty thousand pesos
(P30,000.00) nor more than One hundred-thousand pesos (P100,000.00), or
imprisonment of not less than one (1) month nor more than three (3) years at
the discretion of the court.

These repercussions and transgressions are especially significant given the Office of
the President’s recent pronouncements on the Administration’s intensified campaign
against corruption, as evidenced by the spate of dismissals and termination of erring
public officials.


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Section 5. Scope of the Practice of Librarianship. – Librarianship shall deal with the performance of
the librarian’s functions, which shall include, but not be limited to the following:

(1) Selection and acquisition of multi-media sources of information which would best respond
to clientele’s need for adequate, relevant and timely information;

(2) Cataloguing and classification of knowledge or sources of information into relevant


organized collections and creation of local databases for speedy access, retrieval or delivery
of information;

(3) Development of computer-assisted/computer-backed information systems which would


permit online and network services;

(4) Establishment of library systems and procedures; dissemination of information; rendering


of information, reference and research assistance; archiving; and education of users;

(5) Teaching, lecturing and reviewing of library, archives and information science subjects,
including subjects given in the licensure examination;

(6) Rendering of services involving technical knowledge/expertise in abstracting, indexing,


cataloguing and classifying; or the preparation of bibliographies, subject authority lists, thesauri
and union catalogues/lists;

(7) Preparation, evaluation or appraisal of plans, programs and/or projects for the
establishment, organization, development and growth of libraries or information centers, and
the determination of library requirements for space, buildings, structures or facilities;

(8) Provision of professional and consultancy services or advice on any aspect of librarianship;
and

(9) Organization, conservation, preservation and restoration of historical and cultural


documents and other intellectual properties.

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The appointment of a person who does not possess the legal qualifications is not only
criminal,5 but it is also a corrupt act, as defined in Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions


of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute
corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform


an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated
by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties
of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced
to commit such violation or offense.

(b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share,


percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with
any contract or transaction between the Government and any other part,
wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under
the law.

xxx

(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or
giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or
preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial
functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees
of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or
permits or other concessions.

xxx

(j) Knowingly approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit


in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such
license, permit, privilege or advantage, or of a mere representative or dummy
of one who is not so qualified or entitled.

xxx

Section 4. Prohibition on private individuals. (a) It shall be unlawful for any


person having family or close personal relation with any public official to
capitalize or exploit or take advantage of such family or close personal
relation by directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any present, gift or
material or pecuniary advantage from any other person having some
business, transaction, application, request or contract with the government, in
which such public official has to intervene. Family relation shall include the
spouse or relatives by consanguinity or affinity in the third civil degree. The

5
Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code defines the crime of “Unlawful Appointments,” as follows: “Any
public officer who shall knowingly nominate or appoint to any public office any person lacking the legal
qualifications therefor, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos.”

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word "close personal relation" shall include close personal friendship, social
and fraternal connections, and professional employment all giving rise to
intimacy which assures free access to such public officer.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any
public official to commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3 hereof.

To the knowledge of PLAI, our peers, and upon verification with the Professional
Regulation Commission’s online facility,6 the person appointed to and presently
occupying the post of “Director IV” of the NLP is not a Librarian authorized to
practice librarianship, and much less to serve as such in a government library.7

It is in this context and these factual and legal circumstances that I am requesting an
investigation into any and all liabilities—criminal, administrative, or otherwise—
relating to the acts and/or omissions of any and all persons that attended to,
participated in, or facilitated the nomination, selection, and appointment of a patently
unqualified person to the post of Director IV (including the latter’s possible liabilities),
specifically, I am respectfully requesting and humbly submitting the following issues
for determination, investigation, and resolution:
1) The propriety and legality of the nomination, selection, and appointment of the
incumbent Director IV of the NLP vis-à-vis the qualifications set forth by law
(relevantly, Section 31 of the Librarianship Act) and the requirements published
by the Civil Service Commission;
2) The process and circumstances that led to the nomination, selection, and
appointment of the incumbent Director IV of the NLP, including the persons and
public officers and officials who were involved in the said process (and/or
otherwise relevant to the circumstances);
3) For the purpose of “[determining] the causes of inefficiency, red tape,
mismanagement, fraud, and corruption in the Government and make
recommendations for their elimination and the observance of high standards of
ethics and efficiency,”
a. Request the Civil Service Commission, to carefully scrutinize all
appointees of President Duterte vis-à-vis the relevant/related
qualifications required by law, and to publish these appointments;
b. Request the Commission on Audit, to undertake a special audit (such as
a “Value-For-Money” Audit) to determine the effectiveness of the
appointees (and their value added) in the discharge of their functions


6
The Professional Regulation Commission provides an electronic facility for the verification of
professional licenses: http://www.prc.gov.ph/services/?id=16
7
The web site of the NLP provides for the tasks and functions of the Office of the Director, which
includes:
1) [Formulation and exercise of] the executive functions of planning, administration and
enforcement of NLP policies and regulations.
2) [Managing, organizing, directing and supervising] the overall operations of the NLP.
3) [Implementing] orders from the Office of the President (OP) and directives from the National
Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
4) [Performing] the functions of the NLP as a national library and central node for public libraries
in the country.
5) [Representing] the NLP in local and international meetings and conferences.
These functions, arguably, fall within the coverage, scope, and definition of “librarianship.”
see http://web.nlp.gov.ph/nlp/?q=node/2205

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and performance of their duties vis-à-vis the overall effectiveness of their
respective offices/agencies;
c. Direct the Office of the President to divulge and publish its rules,
processes, procedures in nominating, selecting, and appointing public
officials and employees; and
d. Study and, possibly, recommend the inclusion of professional
qualifications, competencies, and/or other relevant standards (for
determining merit and fitness) for government positions and as basis for
the President’s exercise of his power and prerogative to appoint.
4) Institute or direct the institution of any relevant action, suit, or matter against
any and all persons and public officials and employees who may be found
liable, given the factual and legal circumstances.

To be clear, I am not interested in the post; my interest lies in safeguarding and


defending our noble profession, with the same zeal and in the same spirit that the
Philippines recognized it (and presumably continues to value it), when it declared
that—
The State recognizes the essential role of librarianship as a profession in
developing the intellectual capacity of the citizenry thus making library service
a regular component for national development. It shall, through honest,
effective and credible licensure examination and regulatory measures,
undertake programs and activities that would promote and nurture the
professional growth and well-being of competent, virtuous, productive and well-
rounded librarians whose standards of practice and service shall be
characterized by excellence, quality, and geared towards world-class global
competitiveness. (Section 2)

Allow me to close on a personal note, several years ago, I publicly answered the
question “Why I became a librarian”; this letter-complaint is my way of holding
steadfast to my answer.

Thank you very much.

Very truly yours,

Vernon R. Totanes, PhD


Director, Rizal Library
ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY
Loyola Heights, Quezon City

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Copy furnished:

Civil Service Commission


Office of the Chairperson
Civil Service Commission
Constitution Hills,
Batasang Pambansa Complex
Diliman 1126 Quezon City

Commission on Audit
Office of the Chairperson
Commission on Audit
Commonwealth Avenue 0880 Quezon City

Career Executive Service Board


Office of the Executive Director
No. 3 Marcelino Street corner Holy Spirit Drive,
Isidora Hills, Diliman 1127 Quezon City

Senate
Senator Richard J. Gordon
Chairperson
Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations

Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV


Chairperson
Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization
and Professional Regulation

Senator Francis Pangilinan


Chairperson
Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes

Senator Francis G. Escudero


Chairperson
Committee on Education, Arts and Culture

House of Representatives
Representative Mario Vittorio A. Mariño
Chairperson
Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation

Representative Reynaldo V. Umali


Chairperson
Committee on Justice

Professional Regulatory Board for Librarians


Professional Regulation Commission
1008 P. Paredes St, Sampaloc, Manila, 1008 Metro Manila

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National Library of the Philippines
Office of the Director
1000 Kalaw Ave, Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila

National Commission for Culture and the Arts


Office of the Chairperson
633 General Luna St, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila

National Historical Commission of the Philippines


Office of the Chairperson
NHCP Building
TM Kalaw Street, Manila 1000

Presidential Complaint Center


Office of the President
Malacañan Palace