Competent professionals get better chance at joining public service
Daud Solaiman, 51, has handled all kinds of public works projects – from roads and bridges to schools and multi-purpose buildings – after working with the government for more than twenty years. As project engineer, he oversees the implementation of infrastructure projects on the ground.
He started out in 1986 as a casual employee in the Department of Public Works and Highways in Lanao del Sur. A year after the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, he was appointed to a permanent position in the department – a capatas (supervisor) with a salary of around seven to eight thousand at today’s rates. And that’s the position he held for 22 years.
A licensed civil engineer, Daud is one of the many qualified professionals in the ARMM who have for years been deprived of either the promotion or appointment they deserve. In February of this year, that changed when Daud was finally promoted to Engineer II.
In the town of Bongao in Tawi-Tawi, Josephine Arola, 42, has to get up at 4:30 a.m. on school days to make the one-and-a-half hour travel from her house to Lapid-Lapid Elementary School where she teaches.
A mother of 3, Joephine has been working as a volunteer teacher at the school since 2005. In 2009, she applied for a regular teaching job at ARMM’s education department after securing a professional teaching license from the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). But she would have to wait until this year to finally get a regular teaching post.
While some of her contemporaries have already gone on to become Teacher III, Josephine endured for years the meager stipend she receives as a volunteer teacher. She said at times she’d hope her last name would ring a bell among ARMM officials who got hold of her application papers, being the niece of the late Jibin Arula, the lone survivor of the infamous Jabidah Massacre.
Josephine took her oath of office together with more than 400 other newly-hired teachers last May 29 in Zamboanga City. The ARMM’s Department of Education has hired over a thousand new teachers this year to help address the lack of mentors in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. The department is now screening applicants for more than 2,000 regular teaching posts.
Overwhelmed with joy, Josephine broke into tears as she shared her story. “It’s a mixed emotion,” she said. “The agony and the many disappointments we felt is finally over.”
Both Daud and Josephine underwent a screening process now being carried out in the hiring and promotion of employees in the regional bureaucracy.
“I am very thankful that there is an honest-to-goodness promotion and selection board now,” said Daud.
In 2011, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman ordered the establishment of a screening committee to professionalize the regional bureaucracy. “We want to remove influence peddling and the padrino system in the hiring and promotion of employees,” he said.
For this year, ARMM’s Personnel Selection and Promotion Board (PSPB) processed close to 5,000 applicants for vacant positions and promotions. ARMM Cabinet Secretary Norkhalila Mambuay-Campong, who chairs the board, said PSPB screens, evaluates, assesses and ranks applicants based on merits and competence.
“Applicants had to go through a stringent process before they got hired,” she said. “We introduced a computerized examination. They cannot cheat on it and they will know their scores right away.”
She emphasized that human error was eliminated because of the computerization and added that the scores will be made available to applicants for the same position to ensure transparency. Applicants who passed the written exam will then have to undergo a panel interview before they will be hired or promoted.
According to Daud, he is “very satisfied and happy with the screening process because it was very fair.”
“The application was open to the public because Gov. Hataman wanted it to be an open competition to everybody,” said Mambuay-Campong. She added that the vacancies were open to insiders and outsiders provided that they are qualified to the position that they are applying for.
On June 21, Daud together with 453 other newly appointed and promoted personnel of ARMM, took their oath of office before Governor Hataman in a mass oath taking ceremony at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex in Cotabato City. According to Mambuay-Campong, seven batches of newly recruited and promoted personnel from 12 line agencies of the region joined the mass oath taking.
“We hope they will perform their functions competently and put the interest of the public above everything else. They will be the ones left behind when we leave ARMM so we like them to be an inspiration and motivation to others,” she said. (Bureau of Public Information)