Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

P15M check for Zambales rep Antonio Diaz caused Luz' relief

Postdated checks caused my relief—Luz

By JONATHAN M. HICAP, The Manila Times Reporter

Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz suspects that his relief was caused by his refusal to receive three of four checks amounting to P15 million issued from the President’s social fund for the scholarship program of Rep. Antonio Diaz of Zambales.

Luz said he did not receive the postdated checks because it was not in accordance with government accounting and auditing rules.

He said that under the scheme, the Department of Education would receive the money from the fund for distribution to public high-school students in Zambales as scholarship stipend.

Luz objected to it since his department would be accountable for the P15-million fund. Instead, he recommended the PSF to transfer the fund directly to Diaz.

Four days later, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita wrote him and informed him of his relief, Luz said.

He wrote Civil Service Commission chairwoman Karina David and the Career Executive Service Board for clarification, since he is a career executive service officer.

In a letter dated September 21, David told Luz he cannot be removed from his post without cause, since he is a permanent employee.

"The Office of the President was working under the mistaken assumption that your appointment was not permanent and thus, you may be separated from the service anytime, or at a moment’s notice," David said in her letter.

Luz said Mary Ann Mendoza, the board executive director, also told him that since he did not resign from his position, he could not be terminated.

With the two legal opinions, Luz defied Malacañan's order. In his letter on September 21, Luz told Ermita that he intended to continue with his duties despite the order.

Despite the advice of the commission and the board, Luz said Malacañan announced on September 23 his termination as undersecretary.

On Monday Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye announced that Malacañan had allowed Luz to stay on in his post.

Luz belied rumors that his being the brother of Guillermo Luz of the Makati Business Club, a known critic of President Arroyo, had anything to do with his relief.

He also denied he had supported the impeachment of the President

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