Civil Service Commission chair up for another term

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A PUBLIC hearing was held on Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations to review the credentials of Civil Service Commission Chairman Raymond Muna who has been reappointed by the governor.

Press Secretary Kevin Bautista introduced the nominee to the committee on behalf of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, and provided a summary of Muna’s qualifications.

Muna is a Boise State University graduate who currently serves in multiple capacities, including as a Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance board member, and as the current chair of the Civil Service Commission.

“Together with [Office of Personnel Management] Director Isidro Seman and his hardworking team, [Muna] has advocated for the interests of government employees here in the Third Senatorial District, as well as for the entire Commonwealth,” Bautista said, adding that Muna’s leadership qualities and experience make him a viable candidate to continue serving on this very important body. 

Civil Service Commission Chairman Raymond Muna is sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

Several public servants and private citizens testified in support of the nominee, including House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao, Rep. Luis John DLG Castro, Rep. Joel C. Camacho, and OPM Chief of Employee Development Staffing Joseph M. Pangelinan.

Chaired by Sen. Francisco Q. Cruz, the committee placed the nominee under oath before beginning a line of questioning on the nominee’s qualifications and experience during his term as CSC chair.

In his opening statement, the nominee paid tribute to his grandfather, the late Vice Speaker Jesus P. Mafnas, after whom the CNMI Legislature building is named.

“It’s really in my blood to serve the people of the CNMI,” he said, adding that he felt as though he was testifying not just before the committee, but before his late grandfather.

Members of the committee asked the nominee several questions mainly pertaining to the mission, vision, and values of the commission.

In light of a testimony provided by concerned private citizen Philip Atalig regarding the lack of an official hearing officer at the commission, the committee pressed the nominee to expound on the matter, and to inform the body on how it can assist to alleviate these concerns.

Muna explained that post-Super Typhoon Yutu, the commission could not afford to retain a hearing officer and has been availing of pro bono services of their unofficial hearing officer, Ray Dela Cruz of the Department of Public Lands.

Another concern brought to the attention of the committee was the lag in frequent discussions between CSC and OPM on the implementation of policies and procedures within departments and agencies, specifically in regards to the retention points of the commission.

The committee advised the nominee to be especially wary of the “last one in, first one out” retention point, especially with the implementation of furloughs, as the length of an employee’s experience does not necessarily speak to the employee’s ethics and professional conduct.

Muna stated that should he be confirmed by the body, he will ensure that changes are made in the commission to ameliorate current and future concerns that may arise as a result of “the new norm” caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Along with the committee chair, members who were present for this public hearing were Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider and Sen. Vinnie Sablan. Senate Floor Leader Justo S. Quitugua, Sen. Francisco M. Borja, and Sen. Teresita A. Santos were excused.

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