"Are items (teaching positions) in DepEd Bukidnon for sale? We want to know," board member Oliver Owen Garcia asked Ricardo Gilot, DepEd Bukidnon's human resource management officer (HRMO).
Gilot, carrying folders of ranking papers and other documents, faced the board denying the claim and explained DepEd's side.
But alone in the podium for DepEd, Gilot faced an unconvinced provincial board with Garcia describing the query as a "fruitless exercise" and Gilot as "either deliberately withholding information or just confused.”
Garcia moved to cut the inquiry citing their questions could only be answered by DepEd Bukidnon chief Gloria Benigno, whom board member Roland Deticio accused of evading the SP.
Deticio said Benigno, an award-winning career executive, has ignored the board and instead sent emissaries only in each of the four times she was called to the session.
Benigno is in Canada and is unavailable for comment as of press time.
In a message to this reporter prior to the session, she said she visited her family and is a visiting researcher at the University of New Brunswick until March.
Garcia read a memo pad scribbling from the DepEd officer in charge instructing Gilot to attend the session with a warning to "be careful in explaining our policy re deployment/assignment of teachers."
Board members bombarded Gilot with questions on the integrity of the ranking and deployment system in the late morning 38-minute inquiry.
Garcia asked Gilot to enlighten the board if it is true that positions are, indeed, sold.
"Are stories we often heard real? Are the items in the DepEd Bukidnon really for sale?" he asked.
Garcia cited allegations that some of DepEd's supervisors, who administer the ranking and decide whom to hire, ask money and even livestock from applicants.
Deticio asked Gilot to elaborate on the ranking to avoid eroding the integrity of the education department.
Board member Rogelio Lago, who was the temporary presiding officer, noted that during his time as mayor of Baungon town, a DepEd supervisor allegedly bypassed the hiring of three priority ranked applicants in favor of her two children.
In his explanation, Gilot said they follow the localization policy where they prioritize the hiring of applicants who are residents of the place where the school of the vacant position is located. He clarified he isn't a member of the committee screening applicants, which is done in the district office.
But Gilot clarified that in the localization policy, regular teachers aspiring to be transferred to a nearer school are given priority over new applicants.
As example, he said applicants from Malaybalay City would be prioritized in the ranking for a vacant position in the Malaybalay City Central School (MCCS).
When a regular teacher who is a resident of Malaybalay assigned in Hagpa Elementary School in Impasug-ong town would request to be transferred to MCCS then that teacher would be prioritized over the applicant who ranked first for MCCS.
"In that case, the vacancy would be in Hagpa Elementary School (so the localization rule applies for the ranking there)," he said.
But in that case, Garcia asked, if you really followed localization, then how come a resident of Malaybalay was assigned to Hagpa (Impasug-ong)?
Hilot's explanation drew flak from Deticio who cited a complaint from a teacher applying for a post in MCCS reportedly bypassed by an applicant coming from Kisolon, Sumilao.
"Where is the principle of localization there?” he asked.
He also cited as example an applicant who was ranked third but was hired instead of the one who ranked first.
"Nag sige nalang og sno-pake lugar diha? (So they always alter the list with a correction fluid?)" he asked.
Gilot denied irregularities and said the policy on priority for hiring has been changing as per order from DepEd central office.
"I couldn't believe there are appointments changed with sno-pake your honor ….," he said.
Garcia noted that inconsistent policies have become confusing.
Garcia later asked if Gilot as HRMO was knowledgeable about allegations that some supervisors ask for money, livestock such as goats, and others in exchange for teaching positions.
"Is this happening? Does he have knowledge that these things are happening? Yes or no?" Garcia asked, addressing Lago.
"I have no knowledge about that," he said. But two inaudible lines after, he said "Yes I have heard of that" drawing the laughter both on the floor and in the gallery.
He clarified that he had heard the stories but was not aware if it was happening.
"If, indeed, you have heard about these, then why did you not investigate?" a board member asked from his seat.
Garcia, a lawyer and a Valencia City councilor representing the coun
cilors' league in the board, explained the inquiry to Gilot as he suggested cutting the query and waiting for Benigno to explain instead.
"We are doing this because we don't want the alleged irregularity to continue. It is a recurring problem. It has to stop," he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)