Thoughts on the "National Non-Librarian" issue

Cesar Gilbert Q. Adriano, the new Director IV of the National Library of the Philippines, was sworn into office last April 6, 2017 (Photo credit: National Library of the Philippines website)
Last January 24, my Facebook feed was full of news about Ateneo de Manila Rizal Library Director Dr. Von Totanes (of the Filipino Librarian blog) filing a complaint with the Ombudsman about the Director of the National Library of the Philippines. The issue about the new Director of the NLP, Cesar Adriano, is a controversial one - he isn't a licensed librarian. He isn't even a librarian, he previously worked for Pres. Duterte in Davao. He doesn't have any experience working in libraries before his current position.

This is a big issue since the law, RA 9246 or The Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003, states that only licensed librarians can work as heads of government libraries. Section 31: Employment of Librarians states that "Only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries." The job posting for Director IV of NLP in the CSC website clearly stated that the Director should be a licensed librarian. Here's a link to the actual posting of the job vacancy.

It raises many questions: is it illegal practice of librarianship? Is this excusable because the President appointed it? This has been widely debated in librarians' circles and was also discussed during the PLAI National Congress last November 2017, but Dr. Von's complaint made it to the headlines of major news agencies and the national news. I think this is the first time that an issue in librarianship in the Philippines has hit national news, and even Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque responded that they will look into the matter.

For the entire submitted complaint of Dr. Von Totanes, you can read his blog entry with the 9-page statement. Philippine Librarians' Association, Inc., has also released a Statement of Concern given to the PRC and Civil Service Commission, which was done before Dr. Von's complaint. As for my opinion, I definitely agree with the PLAI Statement: "Adherence to the Law should take precedence and should be exercised consistently at all times in order to avoid setting a precedent that would have unlicensed professionals appointed to librarian positions."

What's interesting to me is that no one in the media really noticed this appointment if not for this complaint. It's good in a way that people are more aware that there is a law regarding librarianship and it's a profession that requires a license.

What annoys me most is the ignorant people who just comment without really caring or knowing about the real issue. There were some personal attacks against the complainant. The rabid Presidential supporters just defend the appointment while disregarding the real issue for professional librarians. I just don't read the comments on the news websites because they're filled with know-it-alls who presume knowledge about librarianship or the NLP. I read one comment about Adriano modernizing the NLP, assuming that the previous administration of the NLP didn't do that and that "librarians are slowly being phased out anyway." That's when I stopped reading all the comments. Trying to defend the profession will just be a tiring affair because we all know how these people hold on to their opinions even when they are ignorant or plainly insulting.

I like what Randy David said on this matter in his opinion column for Philippine Daily Inquirer last January 28,  "Protecting the Civil Service from Politics":
Brave soul! I hope his letter is not dismissed as sour grapes offered by an envious peer or the partisan rant of a “yellow” cadre. Totanes’ is a rare voice in a country that, judging from recent surveys, appears to have given its President blanket trust and power to do anything he wishes, and to hire or fire anyone in government as he finds necessary. I don’t think this is the first appointment of its kind, and, surely, it won’t be the last.
I've realized that this isn't just about us librarians - it is concerned with the entire political system of the country, and it also affects all Filipino citizens. Let's all wait and see how this will play out, and I hope whatever decision the authorities will make, it will be fair for us all.

Relevant Links:
These are the links to the news articles compiled by Dr. Von Totanes in his blog entry. I will add other links as the news develops. I recommend watching the 2 interviews in Bandila, Randy David's opinion article, and the Esquire Philippines article.

Philippine Star
Check out appointment of 'National Non-Librarian,' Ombudsman asked by Rosette Adel
Palace to 'look into' National Library's non-librarian director by Rosette Adel

GMA News Online
Ateneo chief librarian wants Ombudsman to probe appointment of NLP head by Joseph Tristan Roxas

National Library chief not a librarian, complaint alleges by Adrian Ayalin
1st Bandila story on Jan 25 by Mike Navallo
2nd Bandila story on Jan 26 by Mike Navallo

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ateneo exec seeks probe on Duterte’s appointment of ‘non-librarian’ to Nat’l Library by Vince F. Nonato
Protecting the civil service from politics by Randy David

Esquire Philippines
Librarians are the keepers of information, and that's why the gov't needs to look into this complaint by Angelica Gutierrez

Probe 'national non-librarian,' Ombudsman urged by Rambo Talabong

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