Search committee found manicurist, gardener qualified for gov’t jobs

Search committee found manicurist, gardener qualified for gov’t jobs
By Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—It was neither favoritism nor whim. Believe it or not, a search committee did it.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s manicurist and gardener were scrutinized by a Palace search committee and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) prior to their appointment.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza made the disclosure on Friday when asked who looked into the bio data and background of the President’s manicurist Anita Carpon, who was appointed to the board of the Pag-Ibig Fund, and Palace gardener Armando Macapagal, who was named deputy of the Luneta Park administration.

Look at qualifications

“There was a search committee and the PMS [also looked into their qualifications],” Mendoza told reporters.

But the executive secretary said he did not know and he would not know who recommended the pair. The appointments had raised eyebrows and continued to draw much criticism.

No info yet

Pressed by reporters to release details on Carpon and Macapagal, Mendoza said there was no information pending the taking of their oath of office before the President.

He said the President’s appointments of Carpon and Macapagal were “based on their qualifications and probably, need and trust as well.”

He stressed that the appointment was discretionary on the part of Ms Arroyo.

‘President knows best’

Likewise, he shrugged off questions about their qualifications, and refused to comment on criticisms that the President made the appointment as a special favor to them.

“There are many appointments said to have been made as special favors to former politicians. But the President knows best,” Mendoza said.

He also brushed aside reports of Carpon’s hefty compensation—rumored to be P130,000 monthly—saying the amount was an exaggeration.

The executive secretary said board members did not have salaries; they only get allowances. They included a P1,000 fee for attending a board meeting and another P5,000 for being a board member, he said.

Too harsh, too crude

“No one earns P130,000 in government,” Mendoza said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Charito Planas decried as “too harsh and rude,” the criticisms heaped on the President for appointing her “longtime and trusted manicurist” to the Pag-Ibig Fund board.

“Despite earlier statements made to explain the appointment of Ms Carpon, people seemed to ignore that simple trust and the lowliness of a person’s state in life can be the bases for one’s appointment to a senior position in the government,” Planas said in a statement.

Represents the lowly

She assailed Ms Arroyo’s critics for questioning Carpon’s appointment and “ignoring the fact that who else could rightfully and honestly represent the lowly government employees if not the person who belongs to that bracket, and who shares the same sentiment, plight and problems.”

“Appointing a manicurist to a senior post in the government is neither debasing the country’s career system nor insulting the intelligentsia. We all know what the President has done to professionalize and upgrade the bureaucracy,” Planas said.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.