Probe ‘national non-librarian,’ Ombudsman urged

Rambo Talabong

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Probe ‘national non-librarian,’ Ombudsman urged
A complaint alleges that National Library head Cesar Gilbert Adriano is not qualified for his post

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman was asked to look into the appointment of Cesar Gilbert Adriano as the head of the National Library of the Philippines, despite not being a licensed librarian.

Vernon Totanes, the director of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Rizal Library, filed the complaint on January 19, asking for a probe into the appointment of Adriano as national librarian. 

Adriano was appointed Director IV of the National Library by President Rodrigo Duterte in March 2017.

Totanes cited Republic Act (RA) No. 9246, or the Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003, which states that “only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries.”

A “non-librarian” heading the National Library, Totanes said in his complaint, sets a dangerous precedent for all government offices and private institutions. (Read the requirements for the position here.)

“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,” Totanes said in his closing statements.

With the position being a high-level national post, it can only be filled by a person appointed by the President himself.

The Philippine Librarians Association, Incorporated (PLAI), initially reluctant to flag the appointment, called for adherence to the law after Totanes filed his complaint.

“We firmly believe that adherence to the law should take precedence and should be exercised consistently at all times,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday, January 24.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said they will conduct a probe into the matter, the Philippine Star reported.

Other appointees too

Totanes also wants the Ombudsman to ask the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to probe other Duterte appointees.

Totanes, in his complaint, said it would be “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.'”

He requested that the Ombudsman ask the CSC “to carefully scrutinize all appointees of President Duterte vis-à-vis the relevant/related qualifications required by law.”

He said these pieces of information need to be made available to the public, true to the promise of the President that he would uphold transparency in the government.

Totanes also asked the Ombudsman to call on the Commission on Audit “to undertake a special audit to determine the effectiveness of the appointees (and their value added) in the discharge of their functions.” –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.