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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, March 20, 2017
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DENR personnel reshuffling

It is expected that once a new administration will assume responsibility in the country, reshuffling of incumbent career personnel and appointment of new officers and staff is expected to happen in various government agencies. This is especially true with the appointment of new department secretaries, who understandably would like to work with people whom they are comfortable with and got their trust and confidence. However, political maneuvering is not a remote possibility in the assignment and promotion of government employees and officials.

The controversial Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez recently issued orders for the reshuffling of her personnel nationwide. The order involves DENR regional directors, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources officers to Community Environment and Natural Resources officers, and the Negros Island Region was similarly covered. While Al Orolfo retained his post as the Negros Island regional director, the PENR and all CENR officers of Negros Occidental were reshuffled, as well as the PENRO of Negros Oriental.

DENR Special Order 201705 named Edgardo Rostata, a forester by profession and once assigned as the CENR officer of Cadiz City, as the new PENR officer of Negros Occidental. He replaced Andre Untal, who is now assigned at the Negros Island regional office. I don't know if the designation of Untal as the Protected Area Superintendent of the Northern Negros Natural Park has been affected with his new assignment. Assuming as the new CENR officer of Cadiz City is Renato Sabinian, formerly the Supervising Ecosystems Management specialist of the same unit of the DENR.

In the same order, Lopez assigned Concordio Remoroza, formerly the officer-in-charge of the Conservation and Development Division of the DENR NIR, as the CENR officer of Bago City, replacing Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya, who is now assigned at the PENR office of Negros Occidental. Another personnel from DENR-NIR, who holds the position as Senior Ecosystems Management specialist and designated as the regional coordinator for National Greening Program, Rosievel Dimatulac, was named as the CENRO of Kabankalan City. Viernov Grefalde, also from DENR-NIR as officer-in-charge of the Technical Division, is now the PENR officer of Negros Oriental.

From the recently issued DENR special order, three personnel assigned at the NIR are now at the frontlines of the DENR offices that will not be affected once the Negros Island Region shall be abolished. The existence of the NIR is not certain with the proposal from some Cabinet members to abolish it. Although I am not privy to internal issues of the DENR and I respect the disposition of the DENR Secretary for the reassignment of her personnel, I can't help but to wonder why Untal and Gerangaya were not given specific assignment, as they were only called to report at the DENR NIR and PENRO Negros Occidental, respectively.

I know Rostata well since he was my deputy for several years when I was still the Protected Area Superintendent of the Mount Kanla-on Natural Park, and I could vouch his integrity, and dedication, as well as his competence, because aside from his varied experiences, he holds two master's degrees and he is a Civil Executive Service officer, too. I believe Rostata deserves the elevation of his assignment from CENRO to PENRO.

After Rostata, Untal became my deputy PASu in the MKNP, and from then on, he rose from the ranks to become the PENRO, as he did perform well on his previous tasks. I was actually expecting that Untal would be promoted because, as far as I observed and witnessed, he did a good job as PENRO and at the same time the PASu of the NNNP. Untal enjoys the support of civil society groups especially when he made the unprecedented decision of issuing cease-and-desist orders against illegal structures, particularly vacation houses and resorts of private individuals, in the NNNP.

With the assignment of Gerangaya at PENRO Negros Occidental, I am not aware if he will also be stripped of his designation as the PASu of the MKNP, where he introduced a good number of initiatives. I was hoping that he will be retained as CENR officer of Bago, because he actually balanced his performance as CENRO and PASu at the same time. In fact, he is the only CENR officer known to me who had initiated the mainstreaming of protected area operations into the overall structure of the CENRO.

The recommending DENR officials and the secretary may have various reasons for these reassignments in NIR, and I would like to assume that they were done in proper and honest intention. I find it disincentive though if performing personnel will be dislocated, otherwise, if there are concerns about their performance, they should be properly given due course.*

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