MANILA, Philippines — Acting like a human resource manager, President Aquino on Friday vowed to fill some 4,300 vacant positions in government before the election ban on appointments starts later this month.
The President, less than three months in office, acknowledged there is an “urgency” to complete the “Plum Book” or the list of vacant government positions but said that finding the right people is difficult.
“There is really an urgency to fill up all of the positions. There’s actually a ban starting September 25, if I’m not mistaken, due to the barangay elections. So there is an urgency to meet and fill out something in the neighborhood of 4,300 positions,” he said during a dialogue with local and foreign business organizations in Malacañang.
“We are trying our best. We are having a lot of successes but getting the right people to all of these jobs is obviously not that easy given that there are very, very few perks and benefits that we can give to them,” he added.
Representatives of business groups have pressed the President to fill many key government posts in some government-owned and -controlled corporations, government financial institutions as well as embassies abroad. They claimed that leaving the positions unfilled over a long period may indicate a lack of sense of urgency.
The President assured that he is trying to find competent and talented people to fill the vacant government posts. He said people who want to join government must be ready to leave their comfort lives for six years and bear with criticisms before and after their appointments have been made.
“If you are an HR Manager and you are tasked to look for all of these talents, you’ll ask them: are you ready to come and help serve the people? You will be given admittance of what the salary is. You will be criticized before you accept the position, you will be criticized once in position and after giving that particular position,” he added.
He claimed there has been a “lot of success” in appointments but he is also wary of “people who self-promote.” He disclosed that he almost made a mistake of appointment an unqualified person to a key law enforcement position.
He said that when he started in office he was informed about the need to fill up only 1,000 positions. He later found out there are 4,300 vacant government positions, some of which have fixed terms.
Prior to the President’s speech, Ramon Del Rosario, chairman of the Makati Business Club (MBC), praised Aquino for his Cabinet appointments but reminded him about other vacant government positions.
Del Rosario suggested to the President to delegate to the heads of the major departments the task of appointing subordinate officials.
“Ideally, all hands should be on deck as early as possible, as all available resources should be harnessed and mobilized in pursuit of the administration’s goals. Leaving these key posts unfilled over a long period may also convey the impression of a lack of sense of urgency, when in fact so many issues and problems are crying for immediate attention,” he said.
Genalyn Kabiling, Manila Bulletin