The Civil Service Commission had approved the permanent appointments of the three deputy administrators of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, setting aside the letter issued by its National Capital Region office disapproving the appointments on the ground of failure to comply with the 2017 Omnibus Rules on Appointment and Other Human Resource Action.
In three separate decisions, the Commission approved the permanent appointments, effective April 30, 2020, of lawyers Brando D. Noroña, Ignacio S. Santillana, and Guillermo C. Tejida, III as Deputy Administrator II for Administrative and Finance Department (AFD); Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Department; and Regulation Department, respectively.
Ruling that the disapproval by the CSC NCR of the permanent appointments to be “not in order,” the Commission granted the Petition for Review filed by SRA Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica assailing the disapproval on the grounds of good faith, equitable estoppel, and being detrimental to the interest of SRA in relation to its approved Rationalization Plan.
On September 9, 2020, the CSC NCR disapproved the appointments issued April 30, 2020 stating that it violated Section 88, Rule IX of the 2017 ORAOHRA, as amended, specifically on the composition of the Human Resource Merit Promotion and Selection Board (HRMPSB) for executive/managerial positions.
It further ruled that the HRMPSB for second level executive/managerial positons – with Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar as chairperson, and regular members composed of the SRA Administrator, Board Members representing the millers and planters, and the Deputy Administrator of the organizational unit/department/division/office where the vacancy exists – “is not in consonance with the rule.”
In setting aside the CSC NCR ruling, the Commission stressed that the SRA, being a government owned or controlled corporation (GOCC) applied the composition of its HRMPSB but with some modifications, as indicated in its CSC-approved Merit Selection Plan and Special Order No. 158 dated July 19, 2019.
The SRA modified the composition of its HRMPSB for second level executive managerial positions in consonance with Section 90, Rule IX of the 2017 ORAOHRA, as amended, the Commission further said.
It added that “As stated in the aforequoted provision, the membership of the HRMPSB can be modified, provided it conforms to the prescribed composition, and that, the agencies may add a reasonable number of members, but the prescribed composition may not be reduced. Moreover, the HRMPSB members must be duly designated, and their names posted in the agency bulletin board, and that, any change in the composition of the HRMPSB should be reported to the CSC Regional or Field Office concerned.”
The Commission also clarified that the SRA had complied with the minimum number of the HRMPSB members as prescribed by the rules when it provided for a five-member HRMPSB, from the three-members HRMPSB prescribed by the 2017 ORAOHRA.
Moreover, the Commission further clarified that there is no prohibition in law and in the 2017 ORAOHRA, as amended, that specifically prohibits an appointing authority from being a member of the HRMPSB.
“And that is, the discretionary power of appointment is better exercised when the appointing authority personally takes part in the screening of the applicants as the appointing authority would see firsthand the merit and fitness of each applicant as they went through the process of recruitment and selection.”
The Commission added: “In the case of the SRA, it is a GOCC without an Assistant Secretary position in their plantilla of positions. Aside from the fact that the SRA Administrator was included in the HRMPSB, there were no other violations of the rule that was found and raised.”
According to the Commission, all three deputy administrators appointed had met the education, experience, training and eligibility requirements of the positions.*