THE employees union of the Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday demanded the ouster of Education Secretary Armin Luistro for alleged “gross mismanagement and incompetence” barely two months after he assumed the post.

Lawyer Domingo Alidon, president of the DepEd-National Employees Union (DepEd-NEU) said Luistro has “committed glaring blunders and lapses that betrayed his lack of competence and management skill as well as of transparency”.

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“After barely two months, he has clearly showed that he is incapable of competently managing the department. Because of this, we are asking President Benigno Aquino III to oust and replace him with someone with proven competence,” Alidon said.

Among the alleged blunders committed by Luistro, the employees union cited, were the hiring of 440 “highly-paid” consultants and contractual employees, including former DepEd officials.

Consultants, according to Alidon, were also assigned to handle line functions citing the case of Ruel Bonito, a consultant assigned at the Adopt-A-School-Program.

The union said a consultant should only give advice and guidance but not be a part of operations as only regular employee can carry out line functions.

Manaros Boransing, former Undersecretary and head of the Muslim Affairs Office is now one of the department’s consultants.

Likewise, Alidon said Luistro has designated volunteers to handle positions of authority as in the case of lawyer Tony Umali who was assigned to handle Legislative Liason Affairs.

Another appointment that the union is questioning is that of Tina Ganzon as Director III of the Communication Unit, saying it did not undergo the usual process of hiring by way of screening through the National Screening Committee.

Earlier, Luistro vowed to streamline the bloated bureaucracy at DepEd to effect efficient spending of public funds and maximize the use of the limited budget of the department.

The group said then that co-terminus personnel and consultants nearly outnumbered the regular employees at the DepEd Central Office, 741 to the 900 permanent personnel.

Alidon said Luistro also ignores the law on public sector unionism to include union representatives in all major management committee of the DepEd for transparency.

“There is no transparency, contrary to the pronouncements of President Aquino. Sila-sila lang at ng kanyang mga undersecretaries at consultants ang nakakaalam kung ano ang mga gagawing pagbabago sa DepEd,” Alidon added.

Luistro denies hiring

Meanwhile, Luistro denied that he has hired 440 consultants, citing that the contracts of these employees were renewed during the term of the former administration to facilitate transition and avoid work disruption.

"We allowed the personnel under contract to continue with their services for a limited time only. Whether they may be allowed to continue after the expiration of their current contracts will depend on the outcome of the review,” he said.

Luistro said that since he assumed office, he entered into 30-day contracts with the two Undersecretaries and four Assistant Secretaries because they needed time to turn over their duties and files to their successors.

The DepEd has also re-hired two former Undersecretaries and one Assistant Secretary under three-month contracts, to allow them to conclude specific projects and initiatives which were formerly within their purview.

“Other than those, I think we have only hired two people to perform specific duties for three to four month periods,” he noted.(AH/Sunnex)