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Thursday, April 17, 2014

CSC: Political coercion will not be tolerated

The Civil Service Commission say the agency will not tolerate the use of official authority or influence to coerce government employees for political purposes. Both Commonwealth laws and the Civil Service regulations protect government employees from being intimidated or harassed by threats to their employment security through political pressure relative to public elections.

Herman Deleon Guerrero, chairman of the CNMI Civil Service Commission, said that he has been advised that, despite these protections, employees are being coerced into attending or not attending and supporting or not supporting political events as the election season progresses.

“Employees are being threatened that they will lose their jobs if they either don’t support or do support certain candidates. Often these actions also involve contributions or the purchase of event tickets. The Civil Service Commission cannot and will not allow this to happen to government employees. One of the major responsibilities of the commission is to provide guidance and protection to civil service employees through the development of regulations. The Civil Service regulations prohibit such abuses of authority. The commission will enforce its regulation and will take action to protect its employees. The statutes, on which this regulation is based, also protect employees outside the Civil Service.”

“Employees must be able to exercise their right to participate in political activities of their choosing without being pressured or threatened. Section 8152 of the Commonwealth Code provides criminal penalties, up to six months imprisonment, a fine up to $1,000, or both imprisonment and fine, to any government official who uses his or her position, authority or influence to threaten an employee’s employment, pay, benefits, tenure, or other aspects of government employment. The Civil Service Commission will act with the authority provided to it by law to protect employees from such abuse and fully expects all departments and activities to also protect their employees. All enforcement agencies are likewise expected to take appropriate investigative action when political coercion is reported or referred to them,” he added.

According to Deleon Guerrero, “The commission is fully prepared to protect government employees and take the appropriate administrative and legal action. I encourage employees to report violations to the commission. Due to the limited time the commission is convened as a body, please address a written statement to the commission and deliver it to the director of the Office of Personnel Management.”

“There is no place for political coercion in today’s Commonwealth. All government officials should join with the commission to stop it,” he concluded. (CSC)

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